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How to get management buy in for an ISO 14001 project

Most project or department managers will be familiar with the process of having to “sell” a project to a top management team who may think that it is not a priority, or that the company’s funds could be better spent elsewhere. Therefore, it is good to have possession of all relevant facts and details before you have to convince your top team that a project such as ISO 14001 is not only desirable for a modern-day organization, but also affordable and highly beneficial. So, how beneficial can attaining the ISO 14001 accreditation be for your organization?

Why do we want it?

ISO 14001 brings many benefits, some of them obvious and some not so much. You can find a previous article on Six key benefits of ISO 14001 here, but let’s look specifically at what key benefits we can highlight to drive home the advantages of ISO 14001 to your management team.

  • Cost benefits. All management teams love any project that involves saving money. Reduced wastage, increased efficiency, and a process approach within your Environmental Management System (EMS) will ensure that cost benefits are measurable and tangible.
  • Reduced environmental impact. We all have a responsibility to the environment and future generations. There are no exceptions here, and your management team should understand that as well as you do.
  • Ensure you comply with legislation. Ignorance is not an excuse, and nobody wants to be fined for failing to comply with legislation, do they?
  • Credibility with customers and your market. Environmental compliance is seen as a vital part of an organization’s image and credibility these days, and many larger businesses may insist on a 14001 accreditation before establishing a business relationship with you. If you have to present to a potential client or use a defined bidding channel, then having ISO 14001 will strengthen your credentials enormously.

So, now we have established several excellent reasons for aspiring toward receiving the ISO 14001 accreditation, but is there anything else we can use to convince the top management team to pursue this?

Need more convincing?

Finance and cash flow have always been important to most businesses, and always will be. Therefore, justifying the cost of a project like ISO 14001 may come under the most scrutiny from your management team. The good news is that you may have most of the skills that you need already within your organization now, whether you realize it or not. If you have a Quality department, why not investigate how much knowledge they have? If you count in customer services, sales, and production, and you can harness the knowledge together, then you will be part of the way there.

Secondly, there are many potential related benefits. Managing your supply chain in an environmentally efficient manner, which can be seen in this previous blog Driving Your Supply Chain to ISO 14001 Compliance, can also have huge benefits. Your protection of the environment is multiplied, and sometimes a supplier who enjoys reduced wastage and costs will pass the benefits back to the customer in an attempt to remain as competitive as possible. Therefore, in summary, your organization may be able to reduce costs and increase margins at both ends of its supply chain.

Sealing the deal with your management team

We have looked at the financial, compliance, and reputational benefits from undertaking an ISO 14001 project, and suggested how you might gather the information to go about it; now it is up to you to sell it to your top management team. All around the world there are thousands of organizations now building an internal EMS and preparing for audit and potential accreditation during 2015. An old proverb says that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, and the second best time is now. If you can convince your management team to undertake an ISO 14001 project, you will be planting a tree now and saving many more trees in the future. Now, wouldn’t that be something for both you and your management team to be proud of?

Why not use our free  Project Proposal for ISO 14001 implementation to help you convince your top management team of the benefits? This could be the document you need to show your management team that you have considered all aspects and that the benefits of ISO 14001 implementation can be just around the corner for your organization.

Advisera John Nolan
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.