Purpose – Management systems and standards have become a key part of the organisation's lifeline and a prerequisite for survival in the twenty-first century. Systems for quality environmental and occupational health and safety (OHS) now form the three main pillars of the organisation, the fourth one being financial accounting. In light of the increasing pressure and demands from different stakeholders, it is becoming necessary for organisations to adopt the different systems/standards. However, to achieve the benefits from the implementation and subsequently maintenance of these systems it is only a practical and logical step that the existing management systems/standards be integrated into a single system.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper presents the experiences of three Australian-based organisations that have successfully undertaken the integration of their management systems/standards. Data for this paper were collected through in-depth interviews conducted with the managers responsible for quality, environment and OHS systems.
Findings – The interviews revealed a number of quantifiable and unquantifiable benefits experienced by the companies from operating one integrated system, such as saving of dollars, better utilisation of resources and improved communication across the organisation, to name a few. However, for the benefits to be realized it is essential that organisations are aware of the challenges and obstacles accompanying integration of systems/standards. If these challenges are not addressed early in the process they can delay the completion of the integration process.
Originality/value – Recommendations for other organisations contemplating integrating their management system include: obtaining commitment from the top management; having adequate resources to integrate the systems; having communication and training across the organisation in aspects of integration; and, last but not the least, having integrated audits. Implementation of these recommendations may vary from one organisation to another; however, it would result in lesser resistance for the organisations following them.
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