HSE Articles

Management systems: Achieving efficiency with flow charts


A significant aspect of our consulting service at Environment Essentials is assisting clients in improving the efficiency of their environmental, safety or quality management systems.


An efficient management system is key to the successful adoption and implementation of an organisation’s practices, policies and procedures. One approach we use to achieve efficiency is interactive flow charts – a simple yet effective way to bring visibility, engagement and ease-of-use to any management system.



The purpose of management systems


Management systems vary in scope, complexity and necessity from company to company. At one end of the scale there is the legal requirement to have an operational health and safety management system, and at the other end you have integrated quality, safety and environment management systems certified to international standards – ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001.


The drivers for organisations implementing management systems varies too – it can be for legal compliance, competitive advantage or client requirements. No matter what the motivation or system implemented, a management system’s purpose is to provide a clear, consistent approach to the production of the desired outcomes – your records and compliance evidence.





Too many words: a management system challenge


Having a management system is only part of the story – ongoing use by employees is just as important. Without that legal and certification compliance cannot be demonstrated. It is here where the challenge exists.


Most systems are based on written document-style procedures, even though these days the procedures are electronic. This inevitably leads to a lot of words that employees need to read and understand. In fact, we are aware of one system that if you printed it out in its entirety, it would create a stack of paper that stretched floor to ceiling in the average office!


Often these lengthy procedures merely provide the background information behind the completion of a record document, typically a template or form, also making them of little to no value.





Interactive flow charts: a better way


The ‘volume’ of a system can mean that staff are overwhelmed and disengaged which leads to reduced compliance. Fortunately, there is a way to reduce the system word count and make management systems more efficient and effective – the use of interactive flow charts.


A streamlined methodology, interactive flow charts can be used for any type of system whether it is a health safety legal compliance system or a full-blown certified integrated management system. The flow charts can effectively replace your written procedures whilst still linking to your existing templates, forms, registers etc. Cutting down the volume without losing the value.



How flow charts can aid your management systems


  • Greater accessibility and ease-of-use: Access multiple system documents from one single-page flow chart.
  • Clear logic of connections: Offer a distinct and easy-to-navigate pathway from action to compliance.
  • Greater engagement through transparency: Help employees see their role and accountability in your organisation’s compliance.
  • Easy identification of compliance gaps: Effective analysis of compliance gaps and corrective actions.



Watch this short video to see an interactive flow chart in action





If you want to know more about updating your systems for improved efficiency and compliance, then get in touch with your Account Manager or call (03) 9095 6533.


Ian Palfrey has been an auditor and consultant with Environment Essentials since 2014. He specialises in HSEQ management systems.