Management System Success is Management Success


 Looking for SUCCESS? In safety, or in any other area?

To find out more, go to the Succes in Safety page to find out more.

[1] Risk Management, Safety and Control of Loss - Protecting Your Organization

[2] Making Your Future - In Business and in Other Parts of Life 



My books Success in Safety Improvement Model Management System Success Improvement Process 17-Step Process Improvement Process Rating Management System Structure Management System Content Improving the Management System The Audit Management System Rating International Safety Rating System Accidents and Incidents Accident Investigation Protocol Safety Opinion Survey

CONTENT - giving DIRECTION to the management system

The content of a management system consists of management activity areas or "elements" that are considered vital to obtaining the objective(s) of the management system. The content determines the direction of the system. The content boils down to doing "the right things" so the objective(s) of the management system can be obtained.  



The elements - Content of a Management System


The management activity areas then include specific management activities and a further description of what should be done - steps 3.1. and 3.2. of structure.


The management system contains a number of elements and their specific activities described in a detail to be meaningful (to those who need to implement the system) and contained in a structure to assist that the activities are implemented and improved. Purpose of the management system is to reach identified objectives (on an ongoing basis) such as to arrive at and maintain a specified level of performance to control unwanted events or reach a minimum level of quality performance.


Management Activity Areas or "elements"


Sources of Management Activity areas include:

  • Legislation - national, international 
  • Industry standards 
  • Industry best practice 
  • Certification norms or references 
  • Head Office requirements 

A management system needs to have certain content – a number of relevant elements to reach the objectives. To define the content, following steps need to take place:

  1. Define the objective(s) of the management system  
  2. Determine what management activity areas or elements need to be in place to allow reaching those system objective(s) 
  3. Define the objective(s) of each of the elements 
  4. Determine the specific management activities to be carried out to reach the objective(s) of the individual elements

Now, we don't have to re-invent many wheels here, we can just look around to see what others think about what should be in a management system. Whether that suits your organization is something that you need to decide together with your colleagues. The only advice I can give here is that you should be looking for management activity areas that:

  • are required (by law or otherwise) 
  • will be most effective to reach the objective of the management system 

Some advice:


(1) When starting with your first action plan - the beginning of which your management system - it is important that you will be able to get results on a period no longer than 18 months. If it will be much longer it may not motivate people. Shorter is better.



The principle of economic priorities

A manager will usually give priority response to items possessing the potential for the greatest proportion of results from the least investment of available resources


(2) If you can afford it - depending on your specific situation, your type of industry or activity - then don’t start too big. Start with a lean system and a limited number of elements and build it up based on experience and results. That way you end up with a system that addresses the needs and specific situation of your organization while reaching the objectives that you are looking for. The "trick" is to reach objectives with the least effort. But, at the same time, do not do too little or your operating margins will be very small and you may be caught by surprise.


Some Sources to add Content to your System


As my background is in safety, I mention a number of safety related sources. When considering those, please keep in mind that I am using the broad scope of safety and loss control which covers injuries, property damage (any type), environmental damage, product losses, related liability situations, etc.


No doubt there are many more sources available that you may be able to use to build your management system and addressing the subjects other than safety. But by looking at the sources below, you may at least get an idea what to look for before you start inventing your wheels.



  • OSHA 29 CFR 1910.119 - US legislation for the control of major hazards in the process industry
  • Seveso II– The European legislation with the same objectives 
  • OSHA VPP – US legislation covering safety and health in the workplace 
  • EPA 40 CFR 68 - US environmental legislation 
  • MES - Belgian interpretation of Seveso II  


  • ISO 14001 – the ISO standard concerning the control of environmental incidents

  • ILO-OSH 2001 - International Labour Office Guidelines on OSH Management Systems

  • OHSAS 18001 – a similar standard (but not ISO) concerning the occupational health and safety risk

  • API 750 – an American Petroleum Institute recommended practice to manage process hazards

  • API 581 - an American Petroleum Institute recommended practice for Risk Based Inspection

  • Responsible Care Codes – guidelines for conduct for the chemical industry

  • CCPS - Center for Chemical Process Safety

  • SCC - Safety Certification of Contractors


industry examples, examples of management activity areas or elements of either management or audit systems:

  • Company 1 - Oil and chemical company

  • Company 2 - Oil and chemical company

  • Company 3 - Chemical company

  • Company 4 - Electronic company

  • Company 5 - Oil and chemical company

  • Company 6 - Chemical company

  • Company 7 - Oil company

  • Company 8 - Food company

  • Company 9 - University

  • Company 10 - Contractor company 

COMMERCIAL AUDIT SYSTEMS, examples of management activity areas of commercially available audit systems:

Although the examples provided come from the safety field, they will often also serve other areas of business such as quality, cost control and productivity. In principle, there are no major difference from a business point of view between those seemingly different areas. They all are striving to reach objectives. They also all include control of unwanted events that are in the way of obtaining those objectves and that often reduce business process efficieny and results.


Besides the content of the management system, the structure of the elements is also very important as well as the process to make the system. Both process and structure help to develop, implement, obtain results and improve.


17 steps to build a management system that works


Content and structure are very important but are not enough to make the management system into a success. As a management system often involves work that needs to be done by several people in the organization, those people shall de allowed to participate in the process of developing the management system. Their participation not only assures that their expertise will be used but also provides "emotional ownership". That way the management system also becomes their management system and not just a set of rules or regulations that is made by management or staff.


The 17-step process includes 17 steps as a guide to follow making sure that adequate attention is given to all aspects to make the management system into a success and include content, structure as well as application of top-down and bottom-up principles.



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