Advantages and disadvantages of an AS9100 Integrated Management System

When you are implementing an aerospace Quality Management System (QMS) using the requirements of AS9100 Rev D, you may find that you are integrating a lot of support processes for your QMS that work alongside the main processes to provide products and services. This may lead you to look at these support processes and realize that they are similar to those used in other management systems, such as an Environmental Management System (EMS) using ISO 14001:2015 or an Occupational Health & Safety Management System (OH&SMS) using OHSAS 18001. Because these support processes are common to many ISO standards, you may consider integrating more than one management system for your company, but that can leave you unsure of the benefits and limitations that may result.

So, is it a good idea to implement an Integrated Management System (IMS), with one master set of policies and procedures to address several aspects of your company at the same time, such as quality and environmental protection? Will you gain benefits from more than one management system working together, or would an IMS cause more harm than good? Below are some advantages and disadvantages of an IMS that you should consider before proceeding.

Advantages of an IMS

As has already been mentioned, there are many common processes that exist in all management systems. In fact, these processes contain the same requirements in all ISO management system standards. This will include determining the context of the organization, identifying interested parties, management of documented information, handling competence requirements, performing internal audits and management review, and many others. With this long list, it is easy to see that if the process is the same, you do not need extra resources to maintain more than one management system for these common processes.

Additionally, many of the benefits of all management systems are the same. Just as with a QMS or EMS, you can use the IMS to make better decisions based on facts, increase process efficiency, improve your company image, and make improving the processes a habit among your employees. These benefits can be gained by focusing on one management system, or by looking further to several management systems integrated together. If you are going to improve your customer satisfaction, why not also improve your environmental performance as well?

To find out more about the common processes of internal audits, documented information, and corrective actions, see these articles: 6 main steps in the internal audit according to AS9100 Rev D, A new approach to document and record control in AS9100, and Corrective actions vs. continual improvement in AS9100.

Disadvantages of an IMS

So, there are many good things that can come from integrating more than one management system, but are there any drawbacks? The answer is – there may be.

Probably one of the biggest problems that can come with an Integrated Management System can be a lack of focus. This can be especially problematic if you are trying to implement the requirements of more than one management system at the same time. If you are trying to juggle the QMS requirements that focus on improving customer satisfaction with the EMS requirements for enhancing environmental performance, you can quickly confuse people as they try to understand all of the various changes you are putting into place.

Another problem can be lack of resources when you have more than one management system in place. While the process for continual improvement may be the same for all management systems, you will still need to have objectives for improvement in place for each management system you implement. This means that you will need resources to plan and achieve quality objectives, environmental objectives, IT security objectives, etc. While you may choose to have three quality objectives for a QMS, this may become impossible if you add further objectives that need to be met for each additional set of management system requirements. For instance, if your QMS goals are to improve on-time delivery, contract review time, and mistakes in production, you may have enough resources. However, you may not have enough resources available to also address additional improvements in your environmental performance. Especially if setting and achieving objectives is new to your organization, this vast number of objectives may become overwhelming for your employees.

In short, sometimes it can be beneficial to have one management system to focus on and get right, before you complicate things for your employees.

Is an IMS right for your business?

This is a question only you can answer, and it may even be the wrong question to ask. It might be better to consider if now is the right time to integrate more than one management system in your business. This question is relevant because many of the disadvantages of implementing an IMS can be overcome more easily if you are simply adding a second management system once you already have one in place that is functioning well.

Rather than rushing ahead, it may be beneficial to put your efforts into implementing one management system first. Then, when you have this in place, you can easily add the additional requirements later. By taking your time, you may provide better improvements to your company than if you rushed ahead with a more complex system, so think through your implementation before moving forward.

Remember that any management system is there to provide benefits for your company, so implement at a pace that works best for you.

Need help planning your implementation of AS9100 Rev D? See this free downloadable Project Plan for AS9100 Rev D Implementation.

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.