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How can your EMS Management Review be more useful?

If you think that a management review for your environmental management system is a waste of time rather than a benefit, you are not alone; many companies think this way. However, if you use your management review properly, you can use the data review to be one of the biggest drivers for improvement in your EMS. Most companies use a scheduled meeting to satisfy the need for management review, but there are other ways that this could be done, such as a more continuous process. Either way, the drive for improvement is the key. (Learn more about the continuous process as it would be used with ISO 9001 in this article: How to Make Management Review More Practical).

What inputs are needed for the Management Review?

Management review is intended to ensure that the environmental management system is healthy, and to look for places that improvement can happen. In order to facilitate this, the ISO 14001 standard has identified eight different inputs that are required for a good management review, but you can also add others if your company desires. Below I have listed the eight inputs, and included some information on what to review and some questions you could ask when reviewing each one.

Results of audits and legal compliance. The reason that a company performs audits is to verify if processes are working according to planned arrangements. If this is not happening, you need to ask if the problems found are addressed quickly enough to meet your needs and are not repeating. Additionally, you need to ask if there have been any issues with the company’s legal compliance.

Communication from external parties.  When looking at communication with external parties, you are trying to determine how satisfied these parties are with you. Determine if complaints are decreasing and positive comments increasing. Can small comments be addressed before they become big complaints (such as a neighbor mentioning a smell from the plant)? Most important are any comments you have received from legal parties such as your local government.

Environmental performance. How are your environmental processes performing? If you have air emissions, are they increasing toward an unacceptable limit, or decreasing? If you need to improve something, are more resources needed?

Status of objective and targets. How well are your plans to meet your environmental objective and targets progressing? Are you on track to meet the target you have set, or is the date closing in with insufficient progress to ensure you will meet the expectations you set? If you are coming up short, what do you need to do – increase the resources in the program, adjust the target, or adjust the end date? Inversely, if you are ahead of where you expected to be, do you want to change the target to make it more aggressive?

Status of preventive & corrective actions. Money is put into the process for preventive and corrective actions to fix the root causes of problems so that they can no longer happen, so reviewing the status of these is crucial. If an action is taking too long, or has excessive costs, then addressing this early could mean the difference between a successful solution and wasted resources.

For more on this process, take a look at Corrective and Preventive Actions to Support Environmental Management.

Follow-up actions from previous Management Reviews. Why bother to take actions if you don’t want to make sure that they are done successfully? By doing a follow up, you can make sure that the necessary actions were addressed in a timely fashion, so as to avoid potential problems. Isn’t this why you wanted to track these actions in the first place?

Changing circumstances. If you are tracking external changes, and know of an upcoming legal change or requirements change in your process, it is often easier and less expensive to implement a change on your own timeline rather than in a rush to meet an imposed deadline. By reviewing any known upcoming changes at the management level, you can make the necessary decisions as to which resources will be assigned and when, potentially saving you time and money in the process.

Recommendations for improvement. Do you have any recommendations from external parties or employees? If so, they should be reviewed to see if they can be implemented to make the processes function better, and possibly save money. If the decision is to not go ahead with a suggestion, feedback should be given to the person who recommended it.

What are the required Management Review outputs?

The statement in the standard on the outputs of Management Review is simply: “The outputs shall include any decision and actions related to possible changes to environmental policy, objectives, targets and other elements of the EMS consistent with the commitment to continual improvement.” So, in short, if you make any decisions on your EMS in order to try to improve it, these are Management Review outputs.

Management Review can be a key driver of improvement

Remember, you are trying to ensure that your environmental management system is not only adequately implemented to promote good environmental stewardship, but also maintained. This is why you are performing the management review of the system. But part of the maintenance is to improve the processes within the management review by applying adequate resources to improvement programs. If you control the resources well you can drive the improvement of your system in order to gain maximum benefit from your investment through better control of your environmental management system.

You can download a free preview of a Management Review Minutes template.

Advisera Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.