What You Need to Know About ISO 41001 Certification and Compliance

Answered September 22 2020

facility management

ISO 41001:2018 covers facility management (FM) standards, and compliance with it can help your organization become more efficient and reliable. In addition, ISO 41001 certification improves your business’ image. While the process of becoming fully compliant and certified can take time, the benefits are often worthwhile.

Why Compliance Matters in Facility Management

With the rising value of outsourced facility management (projected to reach $1 trillion by 2025), it’s more important than ever to have a reliable FM system. The objective of ISO 41001 is to help organizations striving for exactly that.

While ISO 41001:2018 isn’t a law—and thus won’t incur penalties if you don’t fully comply with it—it’s still an important component of facility management. Businesses that strive to be ISO certified are better equipped to face the numerous challenges that arise in FM, including the following.

Regulatory Compliance

Again, ISO 41001 is a standard, not a law. However, its design does help facility managers ensure compliance with all applicable regulations, such as those governing safety, environmental responsibility, record keeping, and so forth.

Workplace Safety

Another major concern is workplace safety. While other standards—namely ISO 45001—deal more explicitly with occupational health and safety, ISO 41001 still helps promote a safe environment by averting facility failure. As such, compliance with international standards often plays a key role in minimizing hazards in work environments.

Environmental Issues

Hand in hand with occupational health is environmental safety. Compliance with FM standards helps businesses maintain facilities that keep waste to a minimum while safely handling toxic or otherwise dangerous materials. Many chemicals have to be handled carefully from initial purchase to disposal, so having a set of standards in place to guide the management of these materials is crucial.

Employee Experience

Occupational health and safety factors into a positive working environment for employees. In addition, when systems such as HVAC or production equipment work correctly, it creates a better employee experience. Given that the majority of HR directors say that employee experience is an important part of organizational success, effective FM is even more important than ever before.

Standardization

One major advantage of adhering to standards is the fact that they’re (naturally) standardized. Standardization helps improve facility reliability and streamlines processes, all while supporting thorough documentation.

Reliability

Companies striving for reliability are well served by adhering to ISO 41001 standards. These standards are specifically designed to help facilities keep systems ranging from HVAC to production equipment in reliable working order, making them an important part of FM.

Becoming ISO 41001 Certified

The process of becoming ISO 41001 certified involves understanding the standard, implementing it into your facility management processes, and having an audit from a certification body.

What Is ISO 41001?

ISO 41001:2018 is a standard published by the International Organization for Standardization that sets forth guidelines for facility management. It follows the same structure as other ISO standards, such as ISO 45001 (Occupational Health and Safety) and ISO 50001 (Energy Management), with the same core text, definitions, and terms.

Before ISO 41001 was released in April 2018, supporting documents were also published, including standards outlining FM vocabulary, key concepts, benefits, and agreement development.

The standard’s purpose is to help organizations demonstrate efficient and effective FM, pursue consistency when defining FM requirements, and achieve sustainability. It standardizes FM concepts and requirements in such a way that organizations of all kinds can benefit from it.

Benefits of Becoming ISO 41001 Certified

The core objectives of ISO 41001 help organizations gain the following benefits:

  • Improved safety, health, and well-being for workers
  • Improved productivity
  • Increased efficiency and effectiveness
  • Improved communication, particularly when it comes to FM requirements and methodologies
  • Greater consistency of services
  • FM standardization across all types of organizations
  • Nationally / internationally recognized credibility

The end result of these benefits is to help organizations become more cost-effective and improve their reputation among consumers and business partners. By becoming 41001 certified, organizations prove that they have an effective facility management system in place.

Becoming ISO 41001 Certified

To begin the process of becoming ISO 41001 certified, there are a number of items to be aware of. The following list is from the sections of the standard itself, and it should give you an overview of what certification will mean for your organization.

1. Understand the scope of the standard

First, it helps to be familiar with the scope of ISO 41001. It’s intended to guide organizations through implementing an effective FM system that meets the needs of all those affected by it. The standard is not specific to any region or sector, and as such, aims to be applicable to organizations worldwide, regardless of its size, type, or jurisdiction. While it may provide guidance that can help with regulatory compliance, it doesn’t provide specific information on local, state, or national laws.

2. Use reference documents

A number of documents were published prior to the release of ISO 41001, including ISO 41011, which sets forth vocabulary used in facility management. The text in the standard sometimes refers to ISO 41011, which makes it worthwhile to have that document available when going through it.

3. Understand terminology

The definitions given in ISO 41011 apply when interpreting this standard, and ISO 41001 also sets forth a list of terms that can be useful when figuring out exactly how the standard should be implemented. Some examples of the kinds of terms defined in the standard include management system, interested party stakeholder, top management, and continual improvement, to name a few.

Tip: Making sure terms are defined clearly across your organization is key to standardizing your processes, including FM.

4. Know the context of your organization

The first actual stage of ISO 41001 implementation is planning, and the first part of planning is understanding the overall needs and context of your organization. One major aspect of your organization’s context is the needs of those who may be impacted by your FM system, such as customers, partners, employees, and other stakeholders.

Another large component is the scope of your FM system and how it will impact your organization and anyone connected to it.

5. Involve leadership

No FM plan gets off the ground without some kind of support from leadership. Identifying the roles that leaders play in your facility management, designing policies, and determining organizational roles and responsibilities are all key steps when making a plan that works effectively.

6. Plan

Planning should be based on the objectives you have for your facility, including those that stem from overall business goals. With proper objectives in mind, plan the actions that will need to be taken to reach those goals.

In addition, you should outline potential risks and determine what actions are necessary to mitigate them. Along with these actions should be who is responsible for doing what and how they will be kept accountable.

7. Get support

Outside support can be useful—and often necessary—when creating an effective FM management system for your organization. Published materials, documented data, and outside consultancies can provide much needed information, while contractors and internal personnel offer skills and resources that help the whole system function.

Even systems that provide additional awareness of your internal processes and external factors can be invaluable when striving for ISO 41001 certification.

8. Implement your plan into operations

With a thorough plan developed, it’s time to put it into action. Throughout this process, it’s important to coordinate with any parties involved, such as operators, maintenance professionals, contractors, managers, and anyone else who plays a role in your operations. Integrating internal and external services into your operational controls is vital to making sure everyone is on the same page, thereby creating a cohesive system.

9. Measure and evaluate performance

Once you have an FM system in place, it’s time to start evaluating your performance. Measuring key indicators, creating reports, and comparing metrics against industry benchmarks all play a vital role in evaluating your system’s performance. As such, monitoring and analysis should become part of your facility management strategy.

In addition, conducting internal audits and management reviews will also help you “keep your ear to the ground,” so to speak.

10. Find ways to improve

Over time, the data you gather on your FM system’s performance should give you some insight into making needed adjustments to your system. There may be instances where you don’t quite conform to ISO standards, or there may simply be room for further improvement. It’s important to remember that no FM system is perfect, and as such, the best strategies will involve continuous improvement.

Tip: Kaizen is a philosophy of continuous improvement that centers on workplace culture. If your organization develops a culture of continuous improvement, you’ll find it easier to move forward with ISO certification.

Preparing for an ISO 41001 Audit

Part of becoming ISO 41001 certified is an external audit from a certification body auditor. In addition to making sure your FM system is up to standard through your own internal audits, you’ll want to prepare for your certification audit in the following ways.

Prepare well in advance

First, it’s important to make sure your facility management system is established well in advance of your audit. It should be an established system complete with its own schedule for tasks, reviews, and internal audits. As such, you can’t rush it at the last minute and hope to pass the certification audit.

Perform internal audits and management reviews

Part of maintaining an effective FM system are consistent management reviews and internal audits. Set a schedule for both and make sure you take them seriously. Internal audits should be used to find areas where improvement is needed, and your leaders will review those audits during management reviews.

Monitor your system and make improvements

Along with internal audits and reviews, consistent monitoring is also a vital part of continually improving your FM system. Keep a close eye on key metrics and the objectives they support, and make adjustments as you see fit.

Tip: In some cases, it may be necessary to adjust your objectives. That’s fine. Doing so indicates that you have a living FM system in place.

Clean your workspace

Before the audit, make sure your workspace is clean. Incorporating 5S into your system can help keep your work area clean on a routine basis, but having management tour your facilities prior to an audit can also make sure it’s up to standard.

Remember etiquette

At the time of your audit, you’ll want to be professional and courteous, but not overly formal. In addition, it’s important to be honest with the auditor and to recognize that they may not be completely familiar with your specific organization’s processes.

Be ready to make changes

If the auditor finds nonconformities, don’t argue with them. Their role is to determine whether you’re compliant with ISO 41001 standards, so if they determine that changes are needed, it’s typically best to plan to make those changes.

Other ISO Certifications

In addition to ISO 41001, other ISO certifications that can help your organization include:

  • ISO 9000 Quality Management
  • ISO 14000 Environmental Management
  • ISO 31000 Risk Management
  • ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety
  • ISO 50001 Energy Management
  • ISO 55000 Asset Management

Each ISO document has a similar structure, which makes it easier to build a high-level management framework to handle the various requirements set forth in each standard.

Conclusion

With careful planning, consistent monitoring, and a reliable management structure in place, you’ll be able to comply with ISO standards for your facility management and other systems, affording you the benefits of compliance as well as a more reliable facility.

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