A management system is a description of how an organization is governed and operates. It is a tool for senior management to ensure that the business is conducted according to established processes as well as a support for employees in their daily work.
Common to all organizations is that they consist of a set of processes that work together to ensure that the company achieves it's set goals and is successful.
Management systems cover everything from project management to employee management, customer relationships and more.
How standardized these processes are differs from company to company – but processes are always there. It also includes an organization's policy, goals and measurement criteria.
What is an (ISO) certified management system?
To answer the question, we first need to know what a standard is.
A standard is a collection of knowledge that is locally or internationally recognized as best practice.
Often we think directly of ISO when we hear the word standard.
ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization that brings together experts to develop global standards.
But ISO isn't the only one giving out standards, there are many more - and choosing the right standard from the right body can be tricky.
For example, ISO 9001 is a standard for quality management that emphasizes customer focus and provides a common language for working together as a team, while 14001 is a standard for environmental management through which it works to minimize the organization's environmental and climate impact.
In addition to quality and environmental management systems we also have for instance management systems that cover work environment and information safety.
The list of standards you can certify a management system within can be made long. Depending on the purpose, a management system handles one or more different topics.
With that out of the way –
To certify yourself against a standard is to prove to an external auditor that you are actually using the knowledge and working methods of the standard in your company. To enable an auditor to assess different companies in different industries, the knowledge in a standard has been converted into a number of requirements that the external auditor can see if you meet or not. No matter what kind of organization you are.
A certified management system has undergone an external certification audit proving that the management system meets the requirements of a specific standard.
Once the management system is created and you carry out the actual certification, you prove to an external auditor, in a certification audit, that your management system meets the requirements of the standard under audit.
If all goes well, you will then receive your certificate.