I was working with a company today that are moving towards ISO 45001 (Occupational Health and Safety) certification.

A few months ago we couldn’t have even considered this, their systems weren’t established as they are now… but there was a real issue that underpinned their problem.

There was no routine.

There was no drumbeat to keep all of their business operations and safety management activities on track. It was hit and miss.

Later on today I had a Teams call to join, about another business’ ISO 9001 (Quality Management) and EN 1090 (Structural Components) certificates. The client that I am involved with had acquired another business and in a very short period of time (three months) we had to try and turn around several years of ISO mis-management. It was hard work and we didn’t come out of the external audit unscathed.

This business was also lacking a routine. By the end of next week, they will certainly have a routine (now that I / we understand where they are with their systems!).

So, how do you get a routine and what should you include in it?

Each part of an ISO system should certainly feature in there. If you run these kinds of systems you will probably have an internal audit schedule, you will probably also have a schedule for your management reviews. From here I would consider a monthly checklist of the key activities you need to undertake. This might include:

  • Review the management actions.
  • Working on objectives / updating the objectives log.
  • Reviewing KPIs and other ‘monitoring and measurement’ activities.
  • Review trends and evaluating processes.

You get the idea…

From here you might want to consider standard management tasks:

  • Appraisals.
  • Supplier evaluations
  • Strategic planning reviews (see The Strategic Improvement Loop)
  • IT systems housekeeping
  • Continuous improvement discussion

And it goes on…

business routine

Management and systems are one thing!

The two lists aren’t exclusive to each other. ISO and general management do, and should, intertwine. There shouldn’t really be any difference between the two, but a routine will help you to keep focus and deliver on your obligations to both the systems and the business. Working on the right tasks at the right time should also help you avoid crises, so this shouldn’t really be seen as ‘extra’ work.

There’s lots more that I could discuss when it comes to routines. I think every business should think through and formalise their routines. I think that every employee should take a look at their job description and make sure that they have a routine to satisfy the requirements of their job (especially if they are staff roles and upwards).

The team going for the ISO 45001 standard acknowledged that there is too much to remember if it isn’t written down. A routine is a perfect way to capture this.

If you don’t have a routine for yourself, your team or your business then I urge you to have a look and see how you can create one quickly. Don’t aim for perfection, just something that is better than what you have now. From there you can refine it and make it better.

Right, I’m going to turn over my Kamishibai routine card for writing a blog post!


Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their productivity and on time delivery performance. Giles is also the author of What Does Good Look Like? and the co-creator of the StreamLiner business improvement software program.