ISO 9001 and OHSAS 18001 Template Management System Realizations

In the beginning one of our first purchases was an ISO 9001 and an OHSAS 18001 template management system from one of the many suppliers available (along with the consultant’s contract). It was our vision to pump out procedure manuals at $1,000 per manual using these tools. Our intent was to simply change a few words here and there, use find and replace to make the manual suit the needs of our client. It seemed to make sense for one, and certainly the providers of the template manuals helped us to think that was the way to do it. This is such a great business plan?

Think about this true story. A man took his car in to be serviced. He left his car at the mechanic, came back at the end of the day, paid the service bill, and then left assuming that his car had been serviced. What he found out was that his car had not been serviced and so he had missed out on using his car for the day and paid for something that he didn’t receive.

How would you feel if you asked an expert to write out your quality, safety, or environmental management system, but all he had done was change a few words here and there using a template procedure manual? Not only that, how would you feel if by so doing he had caused you more grief and work than if you’d gotten the job done properly.

It took only my first job to realize that making a business fit into the template I purchased was wrong. My initial thought was that the template was the problem, so I purchased another template with another consultant contract. Actually this one was an improvement so all template management systems are not the same, but still it had the same old feeling of having to try and fit a business into a template.

From that time on I was convinced that templates were evil, and can be the most expensive and ineffective way of implementing ISO management system standards [closely followed by using a consultant that cares little for his client].

Is it possible to get certified using the template management system? Of course it’s possible. Just two things to think about though:

  • Does certification mean you have implemented good management practice? For the most part, the auditor simply checks your management system addresses the relevant requirements of the chosen standard and then determines whether you are following your management system. Auditors do not tend to insist on good management practice, that is not their job. Good management practice is up to you as the author of the management system
  • Many people that start with a template (not all people of course) end up being over worked and give up. It is these people that pay quite a price for choosing the template option.

We have toyed with the idea of making extra money by selling the template in the past. But our knowledge of what it can do to a business has deterred us even though we could easily make up the template manual just to make money.

When would a template manual be useful? If you know all about standards compliance and have the time and money set aside to prepare your ISO management system, then that could be a good option for you. In fact, if you are in that position a template manual would only be a hindrance. If you’re not in that position, outsource.

Outsourcing is not new, and is usually preferred in situations like this where expert help is needed to make things simpler and reduce costs. As with any outsourcing, make sure you have chosen the right consultant. But we can leave that for another blog for now.