Integrated Management Systems And Using Flowcharts To Identify Improvement Areas

Flowcharts And Integrated Management Systems

What Is An Integrated Management System (IMS)?

An Integrated Management System (‘IMS’) integrates all of an organization’s management systems into one single system. This streamlined approach to integrated management can be leaner, more effective and efficient and easier to follow. Additionally, an integrated management system can reduce duplication of work and enable a business to optimise use of their time and resources.

To learn more about IMS and the associated benefits, check out our article ‘What Is An Integrated Management System (IMS)?’

Compliance Software and Integrated Management Systems

Mango Live is an all in one management solution designed by industry compliance experts, specifically with QHSE management in mind. Above all, it automates many of the tools and inefficient processes normally associated with quality, health and safety and environmental management systems.

You can use Mango to combine your organisation’s management systems into one integrated management system. Click here to learn more about Mango Compliance Software.

ISO Insights Report 2019

The ISO Insights Report 2019 is a report released by Mango. It contains the results of surveying 242 organisations worldwide on the value that they have gotten from having ISO certification within their business.

Two of the key insights that were provided in the 2019 report are:

  1. Stop focusing on compliance and instead focus on improvements; and,
  2. Spending time on making improvements magically reduces the time required for compliance activities.

So, how do you identify and make improvements to your management processes and systems?

Integrated Management Systems: Identifying And Addressing Problems

Flowcharts are an extremely useful tool which can be used to assist you in identifying and addressing any problems in your management system.

A flowchart is a diagram that visually represents a workflow or process, outlining the key steps that any product or service follows.

Using flowcharts to assess your management systems has several benefits such as:

1. Providing A Visual Overview

A flowchart will provide you with a visual representation of your management systems, highlighting things such as:

  • Unexpected complexity;
  • Problem areas;
  • Redundancy;
  • Unnecessary loops; and,
  • Where simplification and standardisation may be possible.

2. Comparing Actual Vs. Ideal Workflows

Comparing flowcharts for the actual versus the ideal flow of a process can allow you to identify opportunities for improvement.

3. Enabling Teams To Agree On Processes

Reviewing your management processes visually using flowcharts can allow your team to come to agreement on the steps of the process, as well as examine which activities may impact the process performance.

4. Identifying Opportunities For Data Collection

A visual representation of your management processes can assist you in identifying locations where additional data can be collected and investigated.

5. Serving As A Training Resource

A flowchart can be used as an effective tool to assist in training your team and ensuring that they understand the complete process.

Using Flowcharts To Assess Your Management Systems

Creating flowcharts for your management processes is simple and extremely valuable.

Follow the steps outlined below to assist you in creating flowcharts for the management processes within your organisation.

STEP 1: Determine the boundaries of the process; that is, determine where the process starts/end and agree on the level of detail that is required to identify any problem areas. It is best to start simple and build complexity as you develop your flowchart.

STEP 2: Determine the steps in the process. Brainstorm a list of major activities, inputs, outputs and decisions.

STEP 3: Sequence the steps in the process; that is, arrange the steps in order and sequence the actual process.

STEP 4: Draw your flowchart using the appropriate symbols. The below image shows the symbols that can be used in a flowchart, as well as their associated meaning.

STEP 5: Test the flowchart. Check the following:

  • Are the symbols used correctly?
  • Are the process steps identified clearly?
  • Is every feedback loop closed?
  • Are there any activity boxes within the flowchart with more than one output arrow? If so, you need a decision diamond.
  • Validate the flowchart with people who carry out the process actions.

STEP 6: Finalise the flowchart. Ask yourself:

  • Is this process being run the way that it should be?
  • Are people following the process as documented?
  • Are there any obvious complexities or redundancies that can be reduced or eliminated?
  • How different is the current process from an ideal one?

Different Types Of Flowcharts

There are four main types of flowcharts that are extremely versatile and useful for outlining business processes, manufacturing processes, administrative processes, seeing how a business functions and seeing how different departments relate to and work with each other.

The Process Flowchart

  • Used to illustrate how a process works or to plan a project.
  • Map out roles and responsibilities within an organization to gain clarity.
  • Draw up proposals for new processes or projects.

The Workflow Flowchart

  • Used to understand how data and documents flow within your organization.
  • Used to train new staff members.
  • Can help identify potential problem areas within the organization.
  • Used to clarify business operations by outlining a high-level overview.

The Swimlane Flowchart

  • Used to describe how different departments, processes or employees interact with each other.
  • Used to visualise activity workflows within different categories to see how they operate together and interact with each other.

The Data Flowchart

  • Used to see where data flows in and out of an information system, shows the way in which data is processed.

How To Use Flowcharts To Address Problems In Your Management Systems (Webinar Recording)

Our partner, Mango Live, has created the below webinar to help you better understand using flowcharts to identify and assess any problems in your management systems and processes. QSM group are experts at helping businesses improve and optimise their management systems, get in touch today to see how we can help.

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