This informal CPD article, ‘Creating & controlling ISO 44001 management system documents’, was provided by Punyam Academy, an industry leader in training of international compliance standards.
In today’s fast-changing business world, an organization can achieve better results by collaborating with others. Collaboration can complement their capabilities to ensure that they meet the expectations of their stakeholders and, at the same time, gain access to new markets. Collaboration can help companies achieve success in a number of ways, but what exactly does it take for organizations to collaborate?
The specifications for collaborative business were first published as PAS 11000 Collaborative business relationships in November 2006, which later became a British Standard, BS 11000, in 2010. Understanding the need for a global standard for collaborative business relationships, ISO 44001 was published in 2017, which is now considered the gold standard for collaborative business relationships. The standard was last revised and confirmed in 2022.
Organizations which are planning to establish and implement ISO 44001:2017 for collaborative business relationship management system or those who wish to get ISO 44001 certification will need to create accurate documents and records for the collaborative business relationship management system, as well as control them in accordance with ISO 44001:2017 requirements.
ISO 44001:2017 Documentation Structure
ISO 44001:2017 standard specifically says that the collaborative business relationship management system must include documented information required by this standard and those determined by the organization as being necessary for the effectiveness of its collaborative business relationship management system. The documents and records of ISO 44001 management system are collectively referred to as documented information. The complete documentation for ISO 44001 collaborative business relationship management system will consist of a number of documented information.
Since ISO 44001 is applicable to private and public organizations of all sizes, from large multinational corporations and government organizations, to nonprofit organizations and micro/small businesses, there is a flexibility to the organization in developing collaborative business relationship management system documentation, which may differ from organization to organization depending on their size and type of activities, processes, products and services, complexity of processes and their interactions, and training and competence of personnel. ISO 44001:2017 documented information can be prepared in any language, software version, etc., and they could be in paper or digital form.
Based on our rich experience of various ISO management system implementation and certification process, we recommend organizations to create a 4-tier documentation structure, as below:
1. ISO 44001 System Manual: Although it is not a requirement of the standard, organizations should prepare it, because it gives macro-level details of how the collaborative business relationship management system is implemented and how the requirements of ISO 44001:2017 are fulfilled by the organization.
2. Collaborative business relationship management system procedures or Procedures’ manual, Process approach, etc.: Procedures are core of documentation system. They describe the methods of meeting requirements of relevant clauses of ISO 44001. They support the operation of collaborative business relationship management system processes to establish confidence in the system.
3. SOPs, Work Instructions, Policies, Plans, Exhibits, etc.: These are practical documents for any organization, and therefore, should be prepared in simple language, so that users can understand well.
4. Forms, Registers and other Records: These are also called ‘Retain documented information’, which means records that must be kept and be available for a defined retention period. Record is evidence that the management system and its processes are followed. These are supporting documents to record and distribute information and to prove that the collaborative business relationship management system is operating effectively.
This documentation structure should cover all departments, functions, as well as relationships of the organization within the scope of ISO 44001 collaborative business relationship management system.