CONTENT - giving DIRECTION to the management system
content of a management system consists of management activity areas or "elements" that are considered vital
to obtaining the objective(s) of the management system. The content determines the direction of the system. The
content boils down to doing "the right things" so the objective(s) of the management system can be
management activity areas then include specific management activities and a further description of what should be
done - steps 3.1. and 3.2. of structure.
The management system contains a number of
elements and their specific activities described in a detail to be meaningful (to those who need to implement the
system) and contained in a structure to assist that the activities are implemented and improved. Purpose of the
management system is to reach identified objectives (on an ongoing basis) such as to arrive at and maintain a
specified level of performance to control unwanted events or reach a minimum level of quality
Management Activity Areas or "elements"
Sources of Management Activity areas include:
management system needs to have certain content – a number of relevant elements to reach the objectives. To define
the content, following steps need to take place:
objective(s) of the management system
management activity areas or elements need to be in place to allow reaching those system
objective(s) of each of the elements
Determine the specific management activities to be carried out to reach the objective(s) of the
Now, we don't have to re-invent many wheels
here, we can just look around to see what others think about what should be in a management system. Whether that
suits your organization is something that you need to decide together with your colleagues. The only advice I can
give here is that you should be looking for management activity areas that:
(1) When starting with your first action plan
- the beginning of which your management system - it is important that you will be able to get results on a period
no longer than 18 months. If it will be much longer it may not motivate people. Shorter is
principle of economic priorities
A manager will usually give priority response to items possessing the potential for
the greatest proportion of results from the least investment of available
If you can afford it - depending on your specific situation, your type of industry or activity - then don’t start
too big. Start with a lean system and a limited number of elements and build it up based on experience and results.
That way you end up with a system that addresses the needs and specific situation of your organization while
reaching the objectives that you are looking for. The "trick" is to reach objectives with the least effort. But, at
the same time, do not do too little or your operating margins will be very small and you may be caught by
Some Sources to add Content to your System
As my background is in safety, I mention a number of safety related sources. When
considering those, please keep in mind that I am using the broad scope of safety and loss control which covers
injuries, property damage (any type), environmental damage, product losses, related liability situations, etc.
No doubt there are many more sources available that you may be able to use to build
your management system and addressing the subjects other than safety. But by looking at the sources below, you may
at least get an idea what to look for before you start inventing your wheels.
MAJOR LEGISLATION, such
OSHA 29 CFR
1910.119 - US legislation for the control of major hazards in the process industry
Seveso II– The
European legislation with the same objectives
OSHA VPP – US
legislation covering safety and health in the workplace
EPA 40 CFR 68 -
US environmental legislation
MES - Belgian
interpretation of Seveso II
STANDARDS, such as:
– the ISO standard concerning the control of environmental incidents
- International Labour Office Guidelines on OSH Management Systems
– a similar standard (but not ISO) concerning the occupational health and safety risk
– an American Petroleum Institute recommended practice to manage process hazards
- an American Petroleum Institute recommended practice for Risk Based Inspection
Codes – guidelines for conduct for the chemical industry
- Center for Chemical Process Safety
- Safety Certification of Contractors
industry examples, examples of
management activity areas or elements of either management or audit systems:
COMMERCIAL AUDIT SYSTEMS, examples of management activity
areas of commercially available audit systems:
Although the examples provided come from the safety field, they will often also
serve other areas of business such as quality, cost control and productivity. In principle, there are no major
difference from a business point of view between those seemingly different areas. They all are striving to reach
objectives. They also all include control of unwanted events that are in the way of obtaining those objectves and
that often reduce business process efficieny and results.
Besides the content of the management system,
the structure of
the elements is also very important as well as the process to make the system. Both process and
structure help to develop, implement, obtain results and improve.
17 steps to build a management system that works
Content and structure are very important but are not enough to make the management
system into a success. As a management system often involves work that needs to be done by several people in the
organization, those people shall de allowed to participate in the process of developing the management system.
Their participation not only assures that their expertise will be used but also provides "emotional ownership".
That way the management system also becomes their management system and not just a set of rules or
regulations that is made by management or staff.
process includes 17 steps as a guide to follow making sure that adequate attention is given to all aspects
to make the management system into a success and include content, structure as well as application of top-down and