Management systems for quality and environment are often integrated and there are many examples of synergies but also examples of problems with integration. The expression integrated management systems could be interpreted either as integrating all management standards or as managing all important aspects of an organisation. Elements defining integration could include factors such as level of integration, scope and extent of integration.
The purpose is to study how the expression “integrated management systems” is interpreted in literature, what it means to have an integrated management system (IMS) and what the results of this are.
A literature review was conducted based on Scopus using the search term “Integrated Management Systems”. In the chosen articles, effects of integration, scope, level and extent of integration and if the approach is inside out or outside in, have been analysed.
Most articles on IMS conclude that integration is beneficial regarding cost saving, operational benefits and improved customer satisfaction. The general approach in the articles, describes an inside-out approach with focus on integrating existing management standards. The scope of integration covers typically management systems for quality, environment and occupational health & safety.
An IMS is found to be a system that integrates existing management standards based on an inside-out approach. This indicates possibilities for both practical improvement and research in exploring how integrated stakeholder needs could be managed, possibly as process-based, integrated management systems.
This paper sheds light on the ambiguous interpretation of the IMS concept.
Integrated Management System, process, inside-out, outside-in, process management, stakeholder