“Managing” the COVID-19 Crisis with Integrated Management Systems Using International Standards
The international Standards Organization (ISO) develops voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant standards for industry to support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges. Perhaps few predicted the global challenges that were to beset industry in early 2020 when as country by country, the world economy shut down under the threat of a deadly coronavirus.
An ISO Management Standard is a set of internationally recognized guidelines, covering key areas of running and managing a business such as: Leadership and commitment, Managing Business Risks and Opportunities, Defining resources such as, People and Infrastructure, ensuring competence and communication, Defining Operational Planning and Control, Performance Evaluation and improvement.
Written by multi -national teams of experts, the management systems provide industry best practice and all current revisions of the standards are written to the same structure (HLS) so that all are organized to define the same management approach. Familiar examples of ISO management systems include ISO 9001, ISO 45001, and ISO 22000 on which the GFSI benchmarked standard FSSC 22000 is based on.
Food companies operating a defined FSMS have relied on these HLS elements to achieve resilience to the initial challenge of the pandemic. Many had the ability to adapt to changes in suppliers or react to dramatic adjustments in customer demands, while others demonstrated an agility or originality in the capacity to switch operations or services. Moving forward other management systems will offer a life-line to a pandemic stricken industry such as ISO 22313 which was published in February 2020 to provide guidance on business resilience and continuity, ISO 28001 which offers guidelines on cyber security for companies relying on virtual networks and telecommuting or technology for audits and communications and ISO 45001 which provides essential guidance help protect a workforce returning to work.
Management systems provide a supporting matrix that has helped the food industry to assure a continued safe food supply, maintain customer and worker confidence- and will continue to do so in navigating safety forward after the pandemic.