With the introduction of the latest ISO standards, the need for procedures has become redundant from a compliance perspective. Regardless, most companies still have their procedures and processes because they hold a significant amount of knowledge about how the company operates. However, in order to have a management system that is actually used, it is important to make sure it is relevant for the role somebody has in the organization. Obviously, besides being relevant, it should be up-to-date as well.
A great way to have a management system that employees actually use is to make sure it is relevant for them. The easiest way to accomplish this is to make sure that people only have access to the appropriate processes and procedures. This can be done to manage the access rights of the different employees. By ensuring that the procedures are relevant for the employee, it is much easier and quicker to find the right information for the job at hand. This way, people don’t have to waste time going through lots of information they cannot do anything with. When people are confronted with irrelevant information, they tend to stop using that source of information.
The QHSE department isn’t responsible for the management system. The management is owned by the organization, and therefore, responsibility should be laid there where it is required. The role of the QHSE manager is more like a consultant within the organization to guide people. Therefore, (s)he can never be the owner and creator of all the processes and procedures within the organization. The manager and directors are the owners of the procedures that are within their role and responsibility. The QHSE manager can help and advise but should never be the owner. Obviously, (s)he is the owner of the QHSE-related processes and procedures. Also, the QHSE manager should be in the loop of these new procedures to see if they are compliant with laws and regulations and different standards.
Next to relevance, which we touched upon above, having up-to-date procedures and processes is just as important. When employees need to look up something and find very old and outdated information, they will lose faith in their source of information and stop using it. In the end, the processes and procedures are just a source of information for employees on where to find how the organization operates. When they cannot trust the information they find there, they will find other sources of information such as talking to colleagues. This is when some kind of implicit procedures start to occur that are based on worth-of-mouth within the organization. The problem with this is that when you don’t talk to the “right” person, you get the wrong information. That is why having the procedures documented is essential. However, in order to make sure people use that source of information, it needs to be up-to-date.