No matter their specific needs, organizations have goals above and beyond daily business tasks. For example, some have sustainability initiatives to work towards, while others want to increase internal and external engagement.

However, certain challenges are preventing organizations from achieving these goals—such as injuries, illnesses and environmental releases. These events happen when people operate in silos, with disparate, decentralized systems and data.

Integration: Bringing Together People, Processes and Technology

To combat decentralization, you can create a system where people function in their own department but have a means for organization-wide collaboration. Accomplish this by setting an entire set of systemic processes, practices and standards for managing internal and external operations.

Operating under standards like ISO harmonizes management structure, providing a common framework for an integrated Health, Safety, Environment and Quality (HSEQ) management system. It demonstrates credentials and commitment to compliance and sustainability.

Integrating a system based on ISO standards is successful because many aspects of ISO—as well as operational functions—rely on the same set of tools. Document control, employee training, risk management, audits, corrective action and more are all necessary functions. Automating these functions fosters collaboration, interconnectedness and integration, no matter where your team is working.

Integration and Harmonization in Major Business Processes

Let’s take a closer look at how automation integrates major business processes, harmonizing them with overarching goals like ISO standards.

1.Compliance Obligations

In highly-regulated industries, compliance is a top priority. Automating the steps makes achieving and maintaining compliance a much smoother process. An automated system defines your obligations, requirements and tasks on an organization-wide scale.

Specific citations and documents can shape procedures throughout all departments, so everyone is working from the same standards. Assigning related responsibilities can be done through an automatic workflow with notifications and reminders for efficiency. Automation lets you develop an electronic compliance plan that’s central and easily shared throughout all departments.

2.Risk Management

Risk-based thinking is at the forefront of many ISO standards and procedural regulations. Implementing automated risk processes lets you integrate the information with the rest of your systems. Automated tools let you:

  • Identify the potential impacts of various risks.
  • Analyze and evaluate risks using tools like a risk matrix or bowtie matrix.
  • Monitor and review the impact of controls on risk.

Having this system automated and integrated means risk can be an underlying driver behind all processes.

3.Document Control

Having an automated and integrated document control system is essential for having a set procedure that all departments can follow when handling documents.

With an automated system, you can import electronic documents like OSHA forms or audit templates. Then you can route, review and approve those documents so they are accurate and sent to the correct recipients. The workflow continues through to employees that need to be trained on the documents, with features that let you know they have seen the latest version. When changes are made, you can schedule reviews and updates so the document is up to date.

A proper workflow ensures that people across all departments are acting under the same standard of documents, most driven by ISO standards.

4.Employee Training

Employee training involves many individual pieces that form a larger process:

  • Person profiles: Accurate records of employee and contractor information keeps training accurate and consistent.
  • Requirements: Standard job descriptions and assignments harmonizes compliance with departmental roles.
  • Course profiles: Consistent course information, course content, test templates, schedules and attendees ensures the same training for all employees.
  • Courses: Accessible training content provides an integrated solution.
  • Training: Documented records of completed tests or courses holds everyone accountable to standards.

Linking these features with risk management, document control and other organization-wide processes creates pathways for collaboration.

5.Audit Management

Audits are critical to compliance and operational excellence. Automating audits lets you import checklists and templates, schedule audits, document audit findings, assess the results for risk, issue corrective actions and finalize reports.

Automated audits are effective because they’re tied to the compliance plan, risk management strategy and other underlying criteria that you are auditing for. You see best results when you integrate ISO standards and internal processes with your audits.

6.Incident Management and Corrective Action

Managing and correcting or preventing incidents is critical to your organization’s health. Automation plays an important role in key incident management and corrective action steps like assignment, investigation, corrective action plan and reporting.

Integration fosters the use of regulatory report templates, risk management tools and other ISO-driven processes. Additionally, training maybe necessary after an incident to close any process gaps. The result is a completely integrated system that brings together several factors for total incident reduction.

7.Management of Change

Managing change well can set your organization apart in an ever-changing business landscape. Automated change management systems centralize the many steps: initiating change, determining stakeholder impact, implementing plans and actions, verifying the effectiveness of actions and reporting the changes.

Integration allows for smooth transitions and updates to requirements. It’s a way to check that your changes will conform to risk rules, policies and compliance regulations. You can manage change more transparently across all departments for a more efficient system.

8.Centralized Reporting and Recordkeeping

Centralizing your data is essential to a successful integration strategy. Analytics let you drill down on individual data points and general trends. You will have the business intelligence to make effective decisions, as well as fuel for collaboration. Applying that principle to all departments and systems improves business processes and allows for continuous improvement.

The Value of Performance Improvement

Automating drives performance and adds value to your organization, helping you move past others who are just focusing on meeting compliance regulations. You’ll see:

  • A safe, healthy workplace that attracts and retains talent
  • Optimized use of assets
  • Smaller environmental footprints
  • Lower costs with higher profit margins
  • Enhanced reputation and stakeholder confidence

Alexa Sussman is responsible for writing content for EtQ, a leading enterprise quality, safety and compliance management software provider.