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Annex SL and Enterprise Engagement: Why the C-Suite Needs to Know About ISO Annex SL

In 2011, ISO came up with a new standard for management systems to make it much easier for all ISO management standards, including ISO 9001 quality management, ISO 45001 occupational health and safety (OH&S), and all 60 management standards, to apply the same strategic focus on a systems approach to management. Annex SL addresses the needs of all stakeholders and a focused approach to fostering awareness, capability, buy-in, and inspiration across the organization in a manner consistent with the field of Enterprise Engagement.

As recently reported in ESM, the latest ISO 9001 quality management standards and the new ISO 45001 occupational safety and health standards and 58 others now include clauses specifically related to organizational engagement and a systematic approach to connecting and addressing the needs of all stakeholders to achieve organizational success. The genesis of these new provisions is Annex SL, an ISO management system developed in 2012 so that organizations following any ISO standard could apply the same general approach for the purposes of compliance and/or certification. 
According to ISO, “A management system is the way in which an organization manages the inter-related parts of its business in order to achieve its objectives. These objectives can relate to a number of different topics, including product or service quality, operational efficiency, environmental performance, health and safety in the workplace and many more. The level of complexity of the system will depend on each organization’s specific context. For some organizations, especially smaller ones, it may simply mean having strong leadership from the business owner, providing a clear definition of what is expected from each individual employee and how they contribute to the organization’s overall objectives, without the need for extensive documentation. More complex businesses operating, for example, in highly regulated sectors, may need extensive documentation and controls in order to fulfil their legal obligations and meet their organizational objectives.”

Explains Deann Desai, convener of the ISO technical committee that oversees ISO Annex SL, "management systems are really designed so that senior management, middle management, and operations, are all on the same page with the same outcomes in mind, and that they are all headed in that direction. The primary management value is to align strategic with tactical goals. The framework helps to provide a funnel for decision-making based on identifying the biggest risks and ensuring that the organization is properly addressing those risk. You need to determine both your strategic and tactical goals to determine your goals."

Desai says one of the key new elements of Annex SL is the strategic focus on leadership and the elimination in old standards to any reference to a management representative. "One of the biggest changes in Annex SL is this new focus on leadership and the role of people, and we know this will take time as it challenges the way many companies are organized. Senior management is now directly accountable under Annex SL What we looked at with Annex SL are the roles of the various people an organization needs to succeed, because if you are not responding to all interested parties, that becomes a critically important strategic and tactical risk. There are a lot of different people and organizations that have an interest in what you do as a business. Understanding which ones you need to address is an important priority for top management. For instance, at an airline, you have of course passengers and employees, but you also have investors, vendors, airports, regulators, and residential communities surrounding the airports. An organization needs to take into consideration the needs of all these people, but you can't please everyone all the time. An organizataion has to be able to take all those stakeholders into consideration to determine where do their needs match with where the organization needs to go. An organization cannot be all things to all people. It has to set priorities, and it will get better results if it balances the need for all of these parties."

A Systematic Approach to Management and Engagement 

ISO management system standards (MSS) are designed “to help organizations improve their performance by specifying repeatable steps that organizations consciously implement to achieve their goals and objectives, and to create an organizational culture that reflexively engages in a continuous cycle of self-evaluation, correction and improvement of operations and processes through heightened employee awareness and management leadership and commitment. The benefits of an effective management system to an organization include:
More efficient use of resources and improved financial performance
Improved risk management and protection of people and the environment
Increased capability to deliver consistent and improved services and products, thereby increasing value to customers and all other stakeholders.
These standards are designed for organizations large and small. 
According to ISO Annex SL and an article in, which are based on guidelines created in 2011, all management systems standards should include the following elements, several of which specifically address people issues:
Scope—the goals and objectives of the management system. 
Normative references—i.e., the specific standards, such as ISO 9001 or ISO 45001, to which the scope applies.
Terms and definitions used in the management system.
Content of the organization—understanding to needs and expectations of interested parties or stakeholders and determining the scope and details of the system.
Planning—management plans to achieve goals and address risks.
Support—resources deployed to make sure people have the abilities, awareness, and communication and that such efforts are documented.
Operations—operational planning and controls. 
Performance evaluation—monitoring and measurement.
Improvement—continuous improvement and corrective actions. 

Other Standards Requiring the Annex SL Framework

According to Wikipedia, here is a partial list of ISO standards currently incorporating the Annex SL framework, and whether or not they are required to be in compliance with the standard. Practitioners who master Annex SL can apply these principles in all of these standards. Here is a complete list of all.
  • ISO 9001:2015, Quality management systems - Requirements

  • ISO 15378:2017, Primary packaging materials for medicinal products — Particular requirements for the application of ISO 9001:2015, with reference to good manufacturing practice (GMP)

  • ISO 14001:2015, Environmental management systems - Requirements with guidance for use

  • ISO 14298:2013, Graphic technology - Management of security printing processes

  • ISO 18788:2015, Management system for private security operations - Requirements with guidance for use

  • ISO/IEC 19770-1:2017, Information technology - IT asset management - Part 1: IT asset management systems - Requirements

  • ISO 20121:2012, Event sustainability management systems - Requirements with guidance for use

  • ISO 21101:2014, Adventure tourism - Safety management systems - Requirements

  • ISO 22301:2012, Societal security - Business continuity management systems - Requirements

  • ISO/IEC 27001:2013, Information technology - Security techniques - Information security management systems - Requirements

  • ISO 30301:2011, Information and documentation - Management systems for records - Requirements

  • ISO 37001:2016, Anti-bribery management systems - Requirements with guidance for use

  • ISO 37101:2016, Sustainable development in communities - Management system for sustainable development - Requirements with guidance for use

  • ISO 39001:2012, Road traffic safety (RTS) management systems - Requirements with guidance for use

  • ISO 44001:2017, Collaborative business relationship management systems - Requirements and framework

  • ISO 45001:2018, Occupational health and safety management systems - Requirements with guidance for use

  • ISO 55001:2014, Asset management - Management systems - Requirements

Article sponsor:
EGR International, Inc
A full-service Engagement Agency focused on brand management, marketing, internal motivation and performance improvement campaigns, channel and customer engagement strategies.
Robert Legge

Article sponsor: The Enterprise Engagement Alliance 
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