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Standards and management systems

Standards are a tool or method for stating or determining a standard, rule or unit of measurement in a specific context, similar to ISO 31 on quantities and units. Management systems, on the other hand, are based on so-called management system standards, but they are tools that organizations can use to achieve their goals related to certain areas of their operations. The goals can be related, for example, to quality, products, services or environmental impact in accordance with the relevant management standard. Here we will discuss the concept and development of international standards and management systems and how they are applied to implement laws and regulations in the work environment.


The first management systems can be traced back to the military environment, where quality management or quality assurance is often required. In the 1960s, the US Department of Defense realized that it needed to find a way to better ensure the reliability of the supplies purchased or contracted from suppliers, in order to have a chance of reducing costly quality assurance inspections. The first management systems therefore consisted of contractual requirements for such suppliers, on the basis of which it was possible to entrust an independent party to take care of auditing and certifying the system. On the same grounds, the US military standard, MIL-9858, and the NATO standard, Allied Quality Assurance Publications, were created in the 1970s.


The first international management standard, ISO 9001, was published in 1987, but it was based on the British quality standard BS 5750 from 1979. Initially, the goal was to help organizations set up management systems to increase quality in factory production. Today, the International Standardization Organization (ISO) has published over 80 management system standards, but the best known in Iceland are the quality standard ISO 9001, the environmental management standard ISO 14001 and the information security standard ISO 27001. When creating standards, a committee of relevant stakeholders who know the subject matte is called together. Such committee includes the main experts in the technical field of the relevant standard. Membership in such work can be requested at the ISO national office in each country.


In accordance with one of the key focuses of all management standards, the ISO management system standards are in a constant process of improvement and have added, among other things, focuses on quality control, management and process approach. Since 2012, the internal organization of ISO management standards has been harmonized and under the so-called High level Structure, but this change creates a framework for combining management systems, based on two or more standards, into one integrated management system. Management system standards are intended as a tool for all organizations, large and small, in any business sector to create a management system that is suitable for the organization to achieve its goals in a specific area. This is reflected in the criteria set out for certification bodies to assess audit time, aiming at the smallest possible number of days to audit a management system, based on ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001, with 1-5 employees.


As mentioned, it is often requested that an impartial party certifies the management system to ensure that the implementation and operation is in accordance with the relevant management system standard. Certification Bodies are Accredited to perform such certification on the basis of ÍST ISO 17021-1:2015, which is a confirmation standard intended to ensure consistency in terms of the arrangement and quality of certification services provided by certification bodies. in requirement, which deals with possible participants/observers (e. Observers) in certification audits, parties who can be in that role are listed and there are mentioned, among others, representatives of the accreditation body, consultants or auditors in training. Regulators are also mentions but they are called legal claimants and this applies to persons from ministries or institutions in the technical field of the relevant management system standard who may have an interest. These parties can therefore request that the certification body audits will be monitored. The claimant of the ÍST 85 standard is today the Prime Minister, and an equality institution operates on behalf of the minister with regard to monitoring the implementation of the standard by the organizations covered by the law.


The impetus for the implementation of standards and management systems

The benefits that an effective management system can bring to organizations include better risk management, increased environmental and labor protection, greater efficiency in the use of resources, increased financial benefits and improved customer service (ISO, etc.). Although management standards are generally optional, there are different motivations behind their implementation. Organizations often seek approval or legitimacy in their sector by implementing management systems, but experience has shown that management systems are also implemented on the bases of external pressure.


The chapter is taken from a final project that can be found on Skemmunwith author's permission: 

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