There is no golden rule to how to implement the system and every organisation’s requirements and circumstances will vary. But we have some key principles that may help.
(a) Engage people
The system can’t be implemented effectively in isolation from key people that will be need to be involved in the system. Help people understand what will be required of them and what impacts the system will have on the way they do things moving forward. Take their feedback on board and incorporate it into the system. This is a change management project and bringing people along with you is a key to success.
Utilise top management to help influence outcomes and set objectives. They have committed to the process so get them actively involved. You will also need a Project Manager / Consultant / Management Representative a single person responsible for seeing the project through to completion – it’s not to say they may not have other duties as well and if you are reading this it’s likely the person may be you!
(c) Fit for purpose
the system needs to be fit for purpose for your organisation. Even if you start with a readymade template or a software application, you need to adapt this so that it is specific to your business. You will not be able to achieve excellence with a generic system.
Check your progress along the way, set milestones and monitor completion of them. Don’t wait until you think your system is bullet proof and gold plated before you have it assessed. You will need to conduct internal audits so think about when these should be done and what aspects of the system are audited. Bring in your external auditors when you think you are 50-70% there and have them provide input as to where your system has gaps or non-conformances with the standard or other requirements.