ISO 14001:2015 and the Process Approach
ISO 14001:2015, Clause 4.4: Environmental Management System, requires that an organisation establishes implements, maintains and continually improve its environmental management system, including the processes needed and their interactions.
The concept of a process approach may be one that is new to you. A process can be thought of as an activity that receives inputs and converts them into outputs. It can be applied to any organisation or management system. Inputs and outputs can be tangible, such as materials, components or equipment, or intangible, such as data, information or knowledge. Often, the output from one process will directly form the input into the next process. For an organisation to function effectively it must identify and manage interlinked processes. This systematic identification and management of the processes used within the organisation is a ‘process approach’.
ISO 14001:2015 and the Process Approach: Is a procedure the same as a process?
A procedure and a process is not the same, neither is a procedure just a documented process, since a procedure generally only documents the activities to be carried out, not the resources and behaviours required and the methods of managing the process – this is the role of the process description.
A procedure is a particular way of achieving something. It is a series of steps in a regular definite order, and is an established way of doing something.
Processes are cross-functional and define what is done and by whom. Processes are often depicted as a diagram e.g. as a decision tree or flowchart, where the work performed is split into logical interrelated steps or “activities”.
The inputs for an ISO 14001:2015 management system include internal and external issues identified under clause 4.1 and the needs expectations of interested parties under clause 4.2.
The overall aim of the environmental management system is to protection of the environment. The “intended outcomes” of the environmental management system can be considered to be the outputs. Outputs include, but are not limited to: meeting compliance obligations; continual improvement of the environmental management system; advancing integration of the environmental management system with other business processes; satisfying interested parties and meeting environmental objectives.