Most management systems, like ISO, follow a similar path to success. Plan-Do-Check-Act. For environmental management systems, ISO 14001 is a perfect example of this philosophy in action, and it’s worth taking a look at how it manages to bring about superior performance in almost all cases.
Plan. This is the thinking part – figuring out what needs to be done. It usually starts by auditing existing processes and results, and using them as a starting point. From there, you determine how to make some incremental gains, and add those into the plan. What this means is you start with a reality check, and simply try to make things better – not overhaul the entire process.
Do. The implementation stage is usually straight-forward, but when you have new processes in place, it’s important to train your people appropriately on what the new processes are, why they are needed, and how to implement.
Check. This is as simple as it sounds. Make certain you are doing what you set out to do. Measure, record, and check against documented processes and goals.
Act. There is usually some analysis required here, to determine if the results match the planned goals, or if assumptions or processes need to be adjusted. If people are not adhering to new processes, then enforcement may be required. If the processes don’t produce required results, then adjustments may need to be made – or goals modified. Either way, action needs to be taken to change results.
It sounds simple, and it can be – will a thoughtful environmental plan, and proper use of your EMS system to ensure that you Plan-Do-Check-Act with accuracy.