Moe Moreau from Glencore Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations shared some lessons learned from merging two environmental management systems together.
Management systems are complex. They can quickly become burdensome and are all too often discarded to the dusty bookshelves of a back-office. Management systems work in a hierarchical structure of policies, processes, standard operating procedures and other documents. One of the main benefits of this hierarchical approach is that it helps you and your organization work through the logic of the system and prioritize your work.
But to get the full value of a management system, you need to keep it alive and up-to-date. Moe inherited two management systems that were quite different. In 2015, Glencore merged the operations in Sudbury, Ontario with the port operations in Quebec. This opened an opportunity to update and streamline their management systems. The project spanned 18 months and involved numerous people. Here are some lessons learned shared by Moe during the Nimonik webinar in April 2021.
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Top 7 Lessons Learned
1 – Obtain management support and the necessary budget
It is critical that corporate management understands that a management system is an investment in operations. A good, well run management system will help you avoid problems, and thus save resources. If your management team starts a project with just cost savings in mind, you will likely get nickel and dimed on necessary expenses along the way (consultants, services, software), which will undermine the success of the project. Before embarking on such an initiative, ensure that your management team sees the potential ROI on the project and is willing to commit the required resources.
2 – Bring in external help
Moe hired a veteran consultant to help Glencore along this journey. The consultant was a critical sounding board who could provide guidance, help update documents, and conduct required research. Getting an outside perspective on your operations can be a big value-add for your team.
3 – Get all the relevant people involved
A management system is a team effort; you need to get your team onboard with the project early on. Each person should be given the time and resources to contribute to the project. Do not hesitate to delegate tasks to your team members who are willing to help. More participation early on will allow you to get buy in for the actual operation of the management system after the project is complete.
4 – Centralize your information
A classic problem of management systems is that the documentation is spread out over multiple systems. Bring all of your existing documentation together in an organized manner. Then conduct a gap analysis between what you have and what you need. This will give you a clear path forward for missing documents and documents that require an update.
5 – Ensure you have a strong document management system and person to keep everything organized
Bringing documents together is not enough, you need a strong change management process. This means implementing a document management system and ideally, a piece of software (Sharepoint etc.), as well as a person, who is responsible for keeping the documents organized. The ability to rely on a person to keep documents under control will be a huge time saver in the future.
6 – Get your Compliance Obligations in a standardized format and in a software that helps you keep them up-to-date
A significant part of ISO 14001:2015 is the effective management of your compliance obligations. As part of this merging of the two systems, Moe wanted to put all of their obligations from regulations, codes, standards and other documents in a single system. Glencore already had a subscription to Nimonik, so they were able to quickly move all of their compliance obligations into Nimonik and standardize their management. This helped take a burden off the Quebec port operations team, who were still using Excel for part of their obligations management.
7 – Demonstrate the achieved value to your management team and continue to invest in the system
Moe shared that some of the big benefits of having merged the two systems were reduced audit days and less maintenance of the system. The reduced audit days is a massive help as it means staff are less tied up and distracted with repeated audits. In consolidating the two systems he was also able to consolidate the lessons and best practices from each, and thus end up with a system stronger than its two distinct predecessors. Glencore is now managing a single, consistent EMS across all of its operations in Sudbury and at their port location in Quebec. The benefits are numerous, but chief among them is the fact that Moe now has a better way to track and prioritize environmental actions.
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