What is an Integrated Management System (IMS)?
An IMS is essentially a framework of processes and associated documented information (e.g. work instructions, records, templates etc) that enable the organisation to maintain standards and a level of consistency to the service delivery and compliance management. This is all captured within a repository (generally electronic) where the data can be adequately controlled and effectively managed and developed. It is referred to as an integrated system as it incorporates processes aligned to customer service delivery, business management, health and safety and environmental management. All are part of one system which places continuous improvement at the heart of its key aims and objectives.
What’s new about the QLM IMS approach?
We have developed a ‘process’ approach to documenting a company IMS framework, which captures the entire business processes and is not solely focussed on what happens at the leisure facility.
Why is this important?
Quite often we find that procedures documented at centre level will duplicate or contradict company policies and procedures, which creates poor practice and waste. We believe that by considering all of the business functions we can show the sequence and interaction of the processes and how they inter-relate to each other. It also means that by doing this there is a much better chance of company policies being reflected in operational practices at the centres, as it is difficult to divorce the elements. As an example, HR policies should be properly reflected in the procedures and practices deployed at the centres, so by capturing the company HR procedures within the IMS we can ensure there is no attempted duplication of the procedures at centre level.
How do we document the processes?
Most of the processes and procedures are documented using modern process mapping techniques although where applicable we retain some traditional format procedures e.g. swimming pool NOP.
How is the process framework structured?
The IMS framework is structured using the established process ‘levels’ structure as often seen across various industry sectors.
Level one – succinctly describes the core business processes within the organisation in a Plan, Do, Check, Act format.
Level Two – details the process ownership and the full list of procedures and associated forms, policies and related documents that sit within each process.
Level Three – is the documented procedure level. Procedures are documented as cross functional flowcharts in most instances, although as mentioned, where applicable they retain the traditional format.
Level Four – This is a very detailed (key stroke) description of the task, mainly documented as a user guide e.g. for carrying out tasks using computer software systems or for manual tasks such as backwashing.
Does this meet the requirement of recognised standards?
Yes, the approach used meets the requirements of the ISO9001:2015, 14001:2015, 45001:2018 international standards as well as the Quest criteria. Many of the documents observed by Quest Assessors have been met with very positive feedback.
How long does it take to develop the IMS?
This very much depends on the level of commitment on the part of the operator. The approach is to fully engage the operator in the development of the procedures and rather to try to re-invent the wheel or issue a set of ‘template’ procedures we prefer to assess what is currently in place and find improvement opportunities. We believe operators are more like to embrace incremental improvements than accept something new and different. We establish a project team, generally made up of senior managers in the business who are often the nominated process owners. They oversee and steer the project and we agree a series of project meetings to analyse progress and focus areas. Typically the development phase is between 10-15 days of work and takes anything from 6-9 months but could be longer depending on the clients other business priorities. A project plan is put together and key milestones set.
What follow up work is required?
After all documentation is completed and approved by the respective process owners, the next phase is the communication and training, which should be led by the process owners. Once this has been achieved, the system will need to be rigorously audited. We can assist with the auditor training and the development of the audit programme.
Have we developed an IMS for other operators?
Over the past five years we have developed a comprehensive IMS and using the said approach and provided management support for the following leisure operators and local authorities:
- Sport Aberdeen
- Brio Leisure
- Blackburn and Darwen Boroough Council Leisure Services
- Worcester City Council
- Newry, Mourne & Down District Council Leisure Services