A management system is a set of coherent agreements (which may or may not be laid down in methods, procedures, operating instructions, formats etc.) for drawing up a policy and objectives, and then to achieve them. The elementary principles are compliance with legislation and regulations, and achieving continual improvement. The basis of the management system is a good idea of the risks and the opportunities for improvement in operations, products, or services. The choices made are partly based on the ideas of any other interested parties.
All management systems are constructed along the well-known 'plan-do-check-act' cycle (PDCA):
Plan: Set policy on the basis of identified opportunities and risks, lay down objectives and draw up an implementation programme.
Do: Take organizational and technical action to achieve the objectives.
Check: Monitor whether the objectives are being met and risks are being mitigated, and take corrective action where necessary.
Act: Modify policy towards further improvement of performance – the start of a new cycle.