One of the most difficult tasks that a person may need to undertake before approaching the ISO topic is to win the buy-in from top management. QHSE is considered a cost center where resources are spent to implement and manage the system, but the benefits may not be immediately apparent.
Of course, a key concern for top management is a healthy bottom-line. This is communicated to all department heads in the form of KPI’s with accountability. This means that everyone knows what is important for top management and what is expected of them. But this rarely happens when it comes to ISO.
Sending the right message to your people about the importance of cooperation with the implementation project means a smoother transition. Things get done in a more timely manner. With the right level of support, within six months you must be able to build a completely integrated management system across multiple locations and different business units.
Depending on the size and complexity of an organization, an ISO system contains multiple components. How quickly these are prepared and ready for use depends on the involvement of top management.
So what happens if the management doesn’t send the right message?
Not much attention is paid to ISO and the initial never gets off the ground, usually because the QA Manager leaves it to the departments. In this case, departments are so busy that they never manage to do their part. As a result, the term of 2 weeks changes in 1 month, then 2 months, etc.
Internal auditors are trained for a period of 2 days, but when audits are required, most trainees are not available. And if they are, they rush through the audits, missing crucial non-compliances.
There are challenges for your authority as an auditor. Non-conformities do not get addressed in a timely manner. Corrective and Preventive Actions don’t get adequately implemented or they are addressed in a rush to get you out of the way.
Requested data such as those for KPIs, HSE and customer feedback are never sent or you have to ask for it again and again.
There is a poor turnout at management assessments or safety committees.
These are the worst case scenarios, but not uncommon.
So how do you bring management on board?
- Work out the Cost of Quality and that is not the cost involved in implementing and managing it.
- Calculate the direct costs of not implementing health and safety, but also highlights the indirect costs of the more difficult to quantify, but are costs nonetheless.
- Explain what QHSE would mean for their customers and future customers.
- Explain how a QHSE system would improve their supplier relationships and business results
Because money is an important subject, it is important to emphasize that QHSE is not only a cost center, but also a profit center, provided that they become involved.
This article has been written by Birjees Hussain