Business planning on a whiteboard

The main ISO Management System Standards (e.g.: ISO 9001 for Quality Management, ISO 45001 for Safety Management, ISO 14001 for Environmental Management and ISO 27001 for Information Security Management) have many overlapping requirements and follow some common structures. Clauses 4, 5, and 6 are examples of this – they contain common requirements across these ISO Management Standards and focus on Business Planning (with reference to each Standard’s topic).

The Business Planning activities required by these ISO Management Standards provide considerable detail about your organisation’s context. Taking a risk-based approach, these activities determine the situation in which an organisation functions, as well as anything that affects its operations. It requires consideration of factors such as internal and external issues, positive and negative conditions, interested parties, and focuses on top management’s accountability for management system performance with emphasis on top-level company objectives being integrated into the business processes.

However, these ISO Standards do not provide a list of the specific documents, tools, or frameworks to address these ISO requirements, making it flexible but also tricky to cover them comprehensively and effectively. We’ve found that some existing frameworks are spot on in addressing these ISO requirements, and also benefit your business in many different ways – the combination of these frameworks is the core part of what the Management System Standards refer to as:

  • Context of the Organisation (Clause 4);

  • Leadership (Clause 5); and

  • Planning (Clause 6).

Tools and Frameworks for Effective Business Planning

Effective business planning can be achieved by using tools and frameworks that will not only help you address the requirements of the ISO Standards, but also help your organisation in many different ways, as we will explore in detail in this article.

Listed below are some of the tools we’ve been using effectively when developing Management Systems for our clients. They are well known business frameworks to help you map key factors of your organisation internally and externally, including:

  • Stakeholders or Interested Parties Analysis;

  • PESTEL Analysis;

  • SWOT Analysis;

  • Risk Assessment;

  • Opportunities Assessment;

  • Development of Objectives, Targets and Management Plans; and

  • Defining the core business processes, their sequence and interactions.

We will explain these briefly below, but to learn more about each of these frameworks, check out Chapter 2 of our E-book “How to achieve Certification in 12 weeks… Guaranteed!”

business planning equipment

The Business’ Stakeholders or Interested Parties Analysis needs to be conducted. As part of this process, Stakeholders (or Interested Parties) of a business must be identified and analysed. Analysing stakeholders involves identifying their interests or needs from the business perspective, their relationship with the business and how, as a business, you will meet their requirements or satisfy their needs.

The PESTEL Analysis is a framework to analyse and monitor the macro and external market environment and factors that can impact your business. The PESTEL acronym stands for:

PESTEL Analysis

The SWOT Analysis is a tool that helps you develop a strong business strategy by considering four relevant aspects that affect your business, such as your business’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats it faces in the marketplace.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths and weaknesses are internal to the business, while opportunities and threats are external. For a more comprehensive SWOT Analysis, you can use the outcomes of the PESTEL Analysis. It’s also recommended to be conducted by a group of people with different perspectives and stakes in your business.

The Risk Assessment is used to identify potential hazards and their associated harm, relevant to the business. It’s good practice to consider the outcomes of the previous two analyses (PESTEL and SWOT) as inputs for this assessment.

A Risk Matrix is then used to rank and rate the potential impacts of each identified risk, via assessing their likelihood and consequence. Control measures then need to be assigned to manage or eliminate risks to prevent them from becoming issues.

The Risk Assessment methodology recommended by ISO Certification Experts follows the DMAIC Improvement Cycle which is a data-driven quality strategy for improving processes.

DMAIC Improvement Cycle

The Objectives, Targets and Management Plans are developed to ensure that all opportunities for the business are explored across multiple areas of the business, to achieve growth and maximise rewards. For this activity, you can use the strengths and opportunities identified during the SWOT Analysis as inspiration.

Each identified Objective and Target should define the measurement tools, required actions, responsible person, target dates, and required resources.

Defining the core business processes, their sequence and interactions is the next and last step of the Business Planning. This needs to involve all departments in the organisation, to map the core processes your business undertakes to deliver your products and/or services (usually in flow charts).

An example of core processes could be the customer order, purchasing, design, and production processes in an organisation.

Once the individual core processes have been identified, the sequence and interaction between them can be defined. Below is a flowchart exemplifying the interaction of the core processes of a business:

Business Management System Process Map

And the benefits?

Like we said before, these frameworks will help you not only to address the requirements of the ISO Management Standards for ISO Certification readiness, but also bring a number of benefits to your business. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Clarity on your business position in the marketplace
    Identifying all factors potentially affecting the organisation, internally and externally, provides clarity and a better understanding of what the business is, and its relation with the market and the environment.

  • Understanding of your business weaknesses and strengths
    “Knowledge is power” – a cliche that is very true. The knowledge obtained from these analyses, especially about your own business strengths and weaknesses, is powerful and will help you make more informed decisions.

  • Improved Business Strategy
    The information gathered and documented will give you the tools to make decisions based on facts, when it comes to business strategy.

  • Processes streamlined
    By mapping processes, you’ll be sharing knowledge and experience across the business, which will result in improved processes, products and services. Putting all pieces together, making sense of lots of information, and having your operations and processes documented, will also help you find gaps and opportunities to improve your services and day-to-day activities.

  • Improved Communication
    Most of these pieces of information are probably already in your head, or the department leaders’ heads, but documenting and drawing a plan of action improves communication among the team, gives a path for the business moving forward, putting everyone on the same page when it comes to your business.

Business planning meeting

Using these frameworks

Although most of these frameworks are quite common in the business world, it’s known that rarely organisations actually use and implement them. All these tools require time, attention and engagement of various people in the business, requiring especially the support of the top management team for it to really work and reflect the organisation’s goals and vision.

The good news is that we’re here to help. By engaging ISO Certification Experts, we can facilitate planning sessions with your team to work on these frameworks together, bringing the right tools and techniques to tackle them effectively and make the most out of them – and of course, conforming with the requirements of the ISO Management Standards for ISO Certification Readiness!

If you need assistance with interpreting any of the ISO Management Standard requirements in relation to your business activities, call us now on 1300 614 007, email us, or book your FREE strategy session.

About the author

Consultant at ISO Certification Experts

Aqueline is a Consultant with a background in process engineering and food safety management. She is currently developing her career path in Business Management Systems Implementation and Auditing.