Providing assurance to both external regulatory or best- practice standards, and to internal company standards presents a special set of challenges when an organization operates across a wide range of countries, business environments, and regulatory regimes. This paper describes a management system that has been developed, and implemented at five hundred sites in one hundred countries, over a one-year period to address this diverse set of assurance challenges.
A review in 2003 of the existing globally implemented environmental management system identified a number of requirements for improvement. These included a more robust system of assessment and assurance of external legal compliance; an improved internal audit and self-assessment process, and a clearer demonstration of alignment of the management system with established external best-practice standards.
Implementation of the new management system, together with a self-assessment and audit toolkit began in early 2004. The system was supported by a set of guideline and template documents that gave field users practical support for local implementation of the system. One of the Guidelines provided detailed instructions for the process of assessment of local regulatory requirements, and for the development of compliance procedures, at a site- or country-specific level in the organization.
An aggressive set of implementation objectives were set for the twelve-month period in which the system was globally implemented. Of the approximately five hundred sites that were required to use the system, 95% were required to conduct a self-assessment, and 60% were required to conduct an independent internal (company) audit by the end of 2004. Progress towards these objectives was measured via the established on-line QHSE database system. With a year's experience of system implementation, a review was conducted at the end of 2004 and was used to develop new objectives, and to identify requirements for further system improvements in 2005.