Fit for Purpose – Making safety management systems even more effective

Quality assurance systems are known to be effective for ensuring compliance, meeting expectations, reaching goals and handling risks. From the infancy of the ISM Code there have been challenges, and many are questioning the effectiveness of an SMS audit. Now, after almost two years of development, DNV GL introduces a new approach: Fit for Purpose.

Fit for purpose

Why the status quo isn’t good enough

It is universally agreed that the Safety Management System (SMS) is a key tool for achieving safety goals, managing risks and opportunities, and meeting requirements and expectations.

Common feedback, however, indicates that the SMS is not effectively utilized: too many checklists, non-tailored solutions, weak root cause analysis, focus on details and repair, and similar. Ineffective utilization of audit results is contributing to ineffective systems.

The solution

Fit for Purpose (FfP) SMS audits from DNV GL. They meet your needs and greatly improve the effectiveness of your SMS. Instead of a one-size-fits-all solution, Fit for Purpose audits deliver what their name promises:

Audits focused on your needs 

FfP audits are more focused, and more time is spent on topics most important for you. The focus areas are agreed to through a pre-audit dialogue, and they are the key to effective, relevant and valuable audits. We also encourage you to include these focus areas into the shipboard audit. This is in line with the ownership philosophy of the ISM Code where the SMS is owned by, and shall be implemented by, the top management to ensure safe and effective operations of the vessels. Based on that, the FfP approach strengthens and utilizes information gathering as well as establishes a level for setting KPIs, making decisions, performing internal audits and ensuring that the SMS and audits are effective.

Not only a checklist to tick off, but an assessment of your SMS effectiveness

In line with IMO Resolution A 1071(28), we assess the effectiveness of your SMS in meeting objectives, rather than seeking evidence of conformity with detailed requirements. If a defic-iency is identified during an audit, it will be used to assess if the SMS is effectively dealing with the issue. During FfP audits, you will also receive broad feedback on your SMS’s effectiveness, including room for improvement and positive feedback.

Efficient and data smart audits – where are you compared to your peers?

With FfP, both company and shipboard audits are also more effective through the utilization of synergies and performance analysis. These do not take longer than today’s audits. We utilize synergies and performance analysis to make audits more effective. With the new FfP approach, you will also gain access to unmatched competence and information on industry trends and benchmarks, which will support you in improving operations and reaching KPIs.

Partnership approach on the FfP “journey”

The FfP concept is built up around a partnership approach, meaning that we will work together to utilize the potential of the SMS and the audits. Company ownership of the process is crucial, as you are best placed to identify effective measures and handle the SMS, including identifying and managing deficiencies and risk. Sharing information, and discussing needs and performance are pre-requisites for the success of the FfP approach.

The FfP is implemented as a “journey”, which starts gradually with companies who are ready and interested. FfP is not an additional service at an extra fee, as it is embedded in our audit approach.

DNV GL is fully convinced that FfP is a great step forward to creating more value from audits. And more value means, at the end of the day, more value for money.


The FfP solution is dependent on a partnership approach where information is shared, and needs and performance are discussed. Based on this, we will agree on a set of focus areas which will make your management system even more effective.

Please contact us to
  • discuss the Fit for Purpose concept,
  • agree on focus areas for upcoming company audits,
  • discuss data that may be shared to facilitate the audit process.


IMO Resolution A.1071(28)

Stay updated on Fit for Purpose at


For customers:
For more details, please contact your Key Account Manager (KAM)

Use our office locator to find the nearest DNV GL maritime office or email us to

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