Integrated Management Systems and Information Management Systems: Common Threads

Integrated Management Systems and Information Management Systems: Common Threads

Maria Gianni (University of Macedonia, Greece) and Katerina Gotzamani (University of Macedonia, Greece)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8841-4.ch011
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Information systems collect and disseminate information within organizations based on information technology, while management systems formalize business processes following the standards requirements. Since management standards proliferate, their integrated adoption into a holistic overarching system has emerged as an effective and efficient approach. In this context, this chapter aims to explore the potential synergies among information management and integration. Firstly, a focused literature review is conducted and survey data on the relevant standards evolution are processed in order to provide the information and management practitioners with a clear and oriented depiction of the available norms and their adoption possibilities. Furthermore, a framework is proposed consolidating management sub-systems into an integrated structure including information management and supported by information systems. Finally, the concept of internalization of management systems standards is understood in association with information and knowledge diffusion within an integrated management system.
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Management systems are artifacts that aim to identify and support operations, such as the allocation of resources, the goals and objectives setting and monitoring, and the policy and decision-making processes. Within this context, several standards have been composed to provide management systems a platform for the effective and efficient communication between different stakeholders. More specifically, the standardization of processes and procedures allows third-party impartial auditing, facilitates transactions, provides the means to a deeper understanding of operations and raises management to a more sophisticated level when addressing challenges.

Bearing the aforementioned reasoning in mind, in the last two decades several management system standards and specifications have been released in terms of different disciplines and sectors, such as quality (ISO 9001), environment (ISO 14001), health and safety (OHSAS 18001), information security (ISO 27001), food safety (ISO 22000), information services (ISO 20000), supply chain security (ISO 28001), energy (ISO 50001), social accountability (SA 8000 and AA1000), and social responsibility (ISO 26000). These standards are not legislative documents and, hence, they are voluntarily adopted (Heras-Saizarbitoria & Boiral, 2013). Each one of the released standards addresses specific areas of business operations and offers a set of best practices and guidelines.

However, certain complexity barriers are raised for organizations when trying to meet concurrently the requirements of more than one standard, as regards the handling of resources, processes, and results. To this end, the concept of integration was born. According to Griffith and Bhutto (2009) an integrated management system (IMS) is “the single management system that delivers the processes of the business through modular and mutually supporting structured management functions configured around the wider needs of the organisation”.

Empirical research on the integration of management systems classifies firms according to the main attributes of integrated management systems, i.e. the scope and the sequence of management systems implementation, the level, the methodology, and the audits (see, e.g., Bernardo, Casadesús, Karapetrovic & Heras, 2009; Santos, Mendes & Barbosa, 2011). Basic cornerstones for the establishment of a management system are the model, the methodology and the tools. The lack of a worldwide accepted management standard to guide the development of an auditable integrated management system increases the variability and the flexibility in the forms of the applied integrated management systems. However, there is an ongoing debate on whether an integration standard can facilitate rather than complicate the process of embedding additional management sub-systems (Rocha, Searcy & Karapetrovic, 2007). Therefore, to date integrated management systems are implemented, acknowledged and researched despite the lack of a standard, which would enable their formal auditing and certification.

Viewed from the perspective of information-specific operations the integration, as a notion, is quite familiar to information experts. However, in this research context, a clear distinction has to be made between integrated information systems and integrated management systems. On the one hand, the information systems are consolidated on a technological basis whilst, on the other hand, management systems are amalgamated following certain management principles. Furthermore, information flows along the entire firm and is integrated within the operational structure of an organization using programming language, software and hardware. Conversely, the integration of management systems needs to be primarily approached in an abstract yet well-founded manner at the strategic, tactical and operational levels of the management fabric.

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