The importance of Integrated Management Systems (IMS) is increasing by the day. Indeed, it is becoming seen as the “management system of the future.” An Integrated Management System (IMS) includes all aspects of an organization’s systems, processes and standards in one smart system, which allows a business to have effective management tools, save time, and increase efficiency.
In education, an Integrated Management System combines the integration of an effective Quality Management System (QMS), Occupational Health and Safety System (OHSAS), and Information Technologies Systems (ITS). During the pandemic, when the global educational system had to move online, we saw the importance of using technologies not only in teaching but also in leading and management.
For Quality Management Systems, ISO 9001 is the most common and effective way to establish an appropriate management system in an organization. ISO 9001 is defined as the international standard that specifies requirements for quality management systems (QMS). Organizations use the standard to demonstrate the ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements. ISO 9001 is based on the PDCA cycle, and provides the organization with all the aspects it needs for effective quality management.
In Occupational Health and Safety, ISO 45001 is a way to establish the standard and manage health and safety system procedures and processes effectively in an organization. Unfortunately, not all leaders understand the importance of this standard in education, and often it is considered merely a standard for construction or oil producing companies.
Information Technology Management has become vitally important, especially while teaching and working online. Information Technology standards need to be combined into the IMS so as to achieve effective human resources management. The most common and widespread standard for implementation is ISO/IEC 20000-1(2018).
PDCA Cycle in Integrated Management
Harrington and McNellis (n.d.) said: “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you cannot measure something, you cannot understand it. If you cannot understand it, you cannot control it. If you cannot control it, you cannot improve it.” William Edward Deming, a prominent American researcher, believed that management staff and employees should be involved in the process of continuous improvement. He created 14 principles that later became the basis of the philosophy of quality in an organization, and the continuous improvement cycle PDCA (Plan – Do – Check – Act), called the Deming Cycle. The Deming Cycle is a sequence of actions that aim for improvement. The cycle is also designed to solve quality problems and implement new solutions. The PDCA model is extremely versatile and can be successfully used in any type of business (Deming, n.d.). The first “Plan” cycle in integrated management is one of the most important and, as such, it takes longer than the other cycles and requires more work. “A man who does not think and plan long ahead will find trouble right at his door” – Confucius. In PDCA, the Cycle Plan includes such critical business components as analyzing the strengths and weaknesses in previous work; setting effective preventive actions; risk assessment; and design and revision of business process components to improve results. Planning in IMS for both Quality Management and Occupational Health and Safety directions should include all the components for effective planning. Planning in the IMS of an educational organization includes:
• Analyzing the previous year’s academic achievements
• Employee evaluation results
• Customer satisfaction
• KPI achievement
• Incidents and their root causes
• Non-conformances and their root causes
• Risk assessment
• Customers and other interested parties’ expectations
Following the above mentioned, the next step is to make an effective plan, in which all the employees will be involved and feel like part of the team. However, just because we made a good plan does not mean that it will happen.
The next step of the Deming Cycle is “Do”. Here, the top management of the education organization needs to implement all the planned processes. Teamwork is very important here, with all teachers, lecturers, technical personnel and other employees involved in the process. If they are not involved, the aim of the organization will not be achieved as effectively.
Information Technology Management has become vitally important, especially while teaching and working online
Every process in the business should be studied or checked. Within the PDCA (Plan – Do-Check-Act) Deming Cycle is also the PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act) cycle. To study or check, we should first have effective measurement tools. By this, I mean objective and reflective employee observation forms and appropriate customer satisfaction questionnaires, where both quality and occupational health and safety standards requirements are included. At the stage of Check/Study, we should aim to get clear feedback, as this stage is tightly connected with continuous improvement. Our academic personnel’s professional development is based on an effective evaluation system. At the same time, incidents, non-conformances, risks, and near misses should be studied and investigated deeply to set effective preventive actions to avoid them in the future (Weinstein & Vasovski 2004).
The final stage of the Cycle is “Act”, which includes taking actions based on the results of measurement. Setting effective actions to reduce the risks and avoid incidents and/or non-conformance is a path to continuous improvement. Acting is the part of the cycle which analyses all the other stages and leads to improvement. The PDCA cycle and its implementation in an integrated management system are given in Figure 1.
In November 2021, a small study was done in private and public schools and universities of Tbilisi, Georgia. Participants of the survey were teachers/lecturers, top managers, and customers (parents and students). According to the research, 100% of interviewed educational organizations have an action plan and are aware of it. However, 75% of the public sector and 40% of the private sector mentions that the plan is not based on analyses of the previous academic year and/or employees do not have any information about the last academic year’s achievements, strengths and weaknesses. As such, we can wonder how effective the plan can be and how oriented toward continuous improvement it is. There is also the question of consideration of the interested parties’ expectations. Most of the interviewed customers said they had access to the calendar of the educational organization, but no information about the achievements, strengths and weaknesses of the institution.
94.4% of interviewed employees noted that they made systematic observations and received observation feedback timely, yet, the result of Teachers’ Subject Area Examinations, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, does not even exceed 25% (Edu Aris 2017).
In Occupational Health and Safety, unfortunately, there are no schools or universities in the South Caucasus with this standard, while top universities in the United Kingdom, the US and Western European countries are proud to have the standard and effective integrated management system of ISO 9001 and ISO 45001. In the list of those educational organizations are such top institutions as Boston College in the UK, the University of South Carolina, Imperial College of London, University of Warwick, and others.
To sum up, the PDCA or Deming Cycle is a method of leading an educational organization effectively; however, implementation of PDCA in an integrated management system (IMS) is much more beneficial for business operation and managing an educational organization, and will lead to a good educational system in the country.
Quality Management in the Integrated Management System of Education
Quality Management means that the organization is focused on customer satisfaction through an integrated system of tools, techniques, training, and other methods. This involves the continuous improvement of organizational processes, resulting in high- quality products and services. According to Deming, a system of quality improvement is suitable for any organization which aims to launch a product or is involved in any type of service. The industrial analogy that compares workers and managers to students and teachers/lecturers is accurate and appropriate. In schools, students are the workers and products. Teachers and administrators are the managers. The difference between the success and failure of an educational organization depends on the quality of their work. Teachers are the first-level managers.
The teacher is the class leader, emphasizing giving students the correct direction and teaching them how to learn and thus teach themselves. In modern teaching, teachers are managers who show students the correct directions to move in. Heads of Departments/Deans are the middle and upper-level management.
The productivity of any educational institution depends mostly on the skills of those who directly manage the workers, i.e. the teachers/lecturers. According to Deming (n.d), their success in turn depends on how well they are managed by the administration above them. Therefore, any attempt at educational quality is best centered around organizational improvement efforts. The Board of Education is the board of directors, and is thus responsible directly to the clients, with board members the overseers of the administration.
Implementation of an integrated management system in educational institutions provides an active, safe and healthy environment for sustainable development
To promote quality management in educational organizations, there is a need to change the management philosophy. The new management philosophy focuses on achieving quality, which is defined as meeting and exceeding the needs and expectations of clients. According to the PDC(S)A cycle, customers’ and other interested parties’ expectations must be considered at the planning stage, when the organization is focused on creating a strategic plan. The goal and aim of the organization should consider customers’ and interested parties’ expectations and interests. A second focus is on the acceptance of continuous improvement. The philosophy of continuous improvement is based on the readiness of the top management and the whole staff to be involved in analyzing work and setting effective corrective action plans.
To provide leadership for quality management and mostly for integrated management, people in leadership must be able to understand and apply these concepts:
– Systematic Thinking – this is the interdependence of functions with their sub- processes and the organization with its people.
– Theory of Variation – this is the understanding of the difference between common and special causes. An understanding of variation will enable educational leaders to work toward quality within the framework of individual differences. The existence of variation is why a state of zero defects does not occur and why numerical goals are not feasible (Darling-Hammond et al. 2020).
– Theory of Knowledge – only through a theory of knowledge can one understand the past and predict the future. A major component of total quality management is prediction. Only through prediction and long-term perspective can educational organizations expect to succeed over a long period.
– Knowledge of Psychology – the new philosophy is based on the understanding of people and their differences, and a commitment to applying “systems thinking” to the “people system”. School leadership aims to free up the potential of the different attributes of the people within the organization (Darling-Hammond et al. 2020).
Quality comes not from inspection but from improvements in the process. In education, teachers/lecturers need to involve the student as a worker to evaluate the quality of his/her work, product, or outcome. When students buy into the self-evaluation process the quality of their work is greatly enhanced. Using reality therapy techniques to find out what students want and what they are doing to get what they want sets the stage for this process of self-evaluation.
An Occupational Health and Safety System in Education
The integration of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) into the educational system is an essential aspect of the development of a risk prevention culture. This allows everybody- teachers/lecturers, students, and parents alike to learn how to live and work safely and in a healthy environment. The educational staff must be aware of the risk factors in their working environment and must realize the importance of accurate investigation of any incidents and near misses. They must also become acquainted with the legal regulations on safety and health at work to prevent accidents in the workplace.
An educational institution must be a safe and healthy working environment for all the staff, students, and other persons involved with it to make it suitable for the teaching and learning process.
Yet, implementation of Occupational Health and Safety in the integrated management system of education is not as simple as it may first seem. This is connected with the educational organization staff’s philosophy and mentality. Employees and top managers should feel and understand the importance of an integrated management system within OHS as a path to an effective management system. A very good and effective way to implement OHS Standard is ISO 45001.
To ensure occupational health and safety in educational institutions, managers must implement an occupational health and safety system. This should be part of the overall management system and include the following elements:
• development of an occupational health and safety policy;
• a management system that allocates responsibilities in the field of occupational health and safety;
• a risk assessment of health and safety at the workplace to be reviewed whenever conditions change;
• occupational health and safety auditing;
• training, information, and instruction on health and safety at work;
• emergency procedures -periodical analysis of the system to ensure that it is efficient;
• storage of documentation and records to ensure continuity.
The OHS system in educational organizations should include the following directions:
The medical service – one of the most important parts of the system, consisting of a doctor and a psychologist. When we talk about educational institutions, the medical service is vitally important, as the school age is regarded as the most important phase of childhood, during which the child enters a society training system and emerges as a contributing member of the community. If the child does not maintain adequate health, the benefits of education will be lost due to absenteeism or lack of attention due to ill health, consequently resulting in poor academic performance.
School health services – dealing with health appraisals, control of communicable diseases, record keeping, and supervision of the health of school children and personnel. This aspect concerns itself with evaluating the health of an individual objectively. Healthcare services allow the school authorities to detect signs and symptoms of common diseases, as well as signs of emotional disturbances that could impede the learning of a child. Psychologists should have a big role in the process of observing employees’ psych-climate, evaluating students’ and employees’ mental health, and giving effective consultations to both students and employees. There are a lot of fields which must be studied by the educational organization’s psychologist, from students’ and teachers/lecturers’ relationships to the psych-climate between the employees inside the institution. Another very important object for the psychological service is the parents of students in schools. Unfortunately, a lot of parents have the wrong attitude towards the methods of raising children, and psychologists should be an intermediary link to build the correct relationship between parents and children.
Health services – being both preventive and curative, help to provide information to parents and school personnel on the health status of their school children. They also provide advisory and counseling services for the school community and parents. This includes pre-entry medical screening, routine health screening/examination, school health records, a sickbay, first aid, and referral services. Other services rendered include health observation (which involves the physical inspection of the physiology and behaviors of students/children), health examinations (screening tests and medical diagnosis), and health records (keeping of records of the health histories of students/children) (Olympia 2005).
Security Service – the second biggest department in OHS for educational institutions. This service should work due to regulations for maintaining safety in educational institutions. This service aims to strengthen security and emergency preparedness best practices, reduce safety risks and liabilities, and improve students’ and employees’ perception of safety. The security service should not only guarantee security in all aspects of the educational organization, but also lead the process of incidents and near miss investigation, set, together with other responsible employees, effective preventive and corrective actions, and conduct training for the employees and students to keep them safe and help them understand the importance of safety.
Logistics Service – responsible for infrastructure, purchasing, transportation, and other services.
Sanitary – Hygiene Service – responsible for keeping the whole infrastructure clean following the regulations and standards, and being involved in teaching students (in schools) how to maintain cleanliness in their own space.
Food Service – is responsible for providing employees and students with healthy food. Usually, the menu must be confirmed by the doctor and food manager.
These are the services which make the occupational health and safety system work in the educational organization. However, it is important to remember how these services work: the organization should decide and plan appropriately, make a clear policy, strategy and aim, and follow the local regulations and Occupational Health and Safety Standards. Figure 2 shows a clear connection between these services in the Occupational Health and Safety system of educational organizations.
Role of Technologies in an Integrated Management System
Technology has revolutionized the field of education. The Covid-19 pandemic quickly demonstrated why online education should be a vital part of teaching and learning. By integrating technology into existing curricula, as opposed to using it solely as a crisis- management tool, teachers can harness online learning as a powerful educational tool.
Technologies have been used to a major extent in the governance and administration of educational institutions. The role of ICT has become one of the biggest in the effective management of educational institutions.
Educational governance today increasingly needs to be understood as digital educational governance. The monitoring and management of educational systems, institutions, and individuals are taking place through digital systems that are normally considered part of the backdrop to conventional policy instruments and techniques of government; technical systems that are brought into being and made operational by certain kinds of actors and organizations, and that are imbued with aims to shape the actions of human actors distributed across education systems and institutions.
In internal administration, the use of technologies has been recognized on a comprehensive scale. Educational administration is the process by which methods, principles, and procedures are put into practice within the educational institutions. The individuals need to carry out these functions on the path to the goals and objectives. When the individuals are carrying out governance and administrative functions, they need to ensure that they can achieve the academic goals effectively (Oyedemi 2015).
Today, technologies in managing educational institutions can be used not only as a way of effective communication, but also for correct time management, effective planning and decision making, and as an objective measurement and monitoring tool.
Nowadays, effective and fast communication is one of the most important features of good management. People should have free and fast access to the necessary information. The communication process between individuals within the working environment is an easy and less time-consuming process.
Individuals can access various forms of technology. In other words, connectivity is promoted among departments through technology, and they are required to work in greater collaboration and integration.
Through the use of technology and the internet, individuals can acquire information and augment their understanding of concepts and fields. This facilitates organizational learning and adaptation to the changing global environment by way of partnership, participation, information sharing, and delegation.
To sum up, there is a need for new approaches to enhancing education for sustainable development in universities and schools. Implementation of an integrated management system in educational institutions provides an active, safe, and healthy environment for sustainable development and also results in an increase in their quality levels. Implementation of IMS not only leads to continual improvement but also familiarizes the public with new management systems, which is a good pattern for encouraging the use of efficient management and policies.
By Salome Chkheidze
Salome Chkheidze is the Manager, Independent Auditor of Management Systems and Occupational Health and Safety, and a Business Administration PhD Student at the Georgian American University, Georgia