Systematic control in a turbulent world

Systematic control in a turbulent world

  • Date: Thursday 29th October 2020
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2020 – the year when organisations of most sizes are being pushed to their limits, both operationally and financially.  Infrastructure, raw materials, supply chains, productivity, lead times, staff numbers, costs and health and safety are things most organisations rely on and they have all been affected, sometimes dramatically. 

Exactly how can an organisation cope with challenging situations like a global pandemic? 

It can be argued that all organisations have one thing in common – they all need to maintain control over their operations continuously to ensure a compliant outcome. In some cases, this is a small, informal, competence-based culture. In others, this is large, diverse, complex, rigid, and, in the case of the NHS, a genuine ‘matter of life and death’.

The common goal in all cases is to ‘carefully adapt and keep delivering’, but when you throw ‘turbulence’ such as a global pandemic at an organisation this can disable its normal strategies and leave it panicking, stranded and without a viable plan to cope or move forwards.

This is where a decent business management system comes into play. It’s not a new concept and there are models for things like quality management (ISO 9001), health and safety (ISO 45001) and environment (ISO 14001), amongst others.  What exactly is a management system, and how can it help an organisation in times like these?

A management system is basically a structured way of managing the various parts of an organisation to ensure it meets its intended outcomes, built around the concept of “plan – do – check – act”.  It takes the guesswork out and enables work to adapt and be managed reliably, which is especially useful in times of uncertainty. 

It’s probably safe to say that in 2020 organisations need a good management system now, more than ever! Staff may be off sick or self-isolating, suppliers may let people down, premises and facilities may have to change to deliver COVID-secure requirements. This might paralyse some organisations but with a carefully built and maintained management system this is usually just a new series of process inputs that are carefully considered to produce logical, proportionate outputs.

Foreseeable risks are assessed, and measures are taken to mitigate them. Work activities are agreed with workers and turned into controlled procedures, so they happen reliably.  The switch from ‘plan A’ to ‘plan B’ becomes a calm, considered move to alternative but controlled operating arrangements.

Now it’s obvious that most organisations could not have foreseen the nature and scale of the impacts of COVID-19, and that a management system does not prevent all types of disruption and harm.  However, what is becoming clear is that organisations with strong business continuity plans and flexible attitudes to working arrangements are clearly coming out on top and recovering faster.  These elements are common components of a good business management system.

SSG designs and builds business management systems for organisations in a wide range of industries, covering areas such as quality, health & safety, environment, energy and information security.  If you’d like to find out more about how your organisation could benefit from installing a recognised management system to minimise its business risks and control operations, please contact our Customer Service team for more information.

Source: Chris Prior

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