Making technology work for you…
This blog follows on our recent post about attitudes towards technology amongst Health & Safety professionals. If you’ve decided to look more closely at how technology could help your organisation, then the five areas below are critical when deciding on the system to implement, and the banana skins to avoid.
We have rolled out Notify to tens of thousands of workers across 37 countries world wide. We work with businesses that have fewer than 50 people, to ones with 30,000 employees. That creates a lot of learning! We can’t say that following our guide in this post will give you a perfect result, but we do think it will put you on the right track. And if you have questions you don’t see answered there, we’re happy to try and help out. Just contact us!
1. Start with the end in mind
- Think about the reporting you have to do, the reporting you already do (number of near misses/incidents, accident frequency rates, completed audits etc.) and what reporting you’d like to do (root cause analyses, trends over time/by location, risk of future accidents)
- Remember that the best way to collect good quality data is to make it easy to quickly select the right input. Remember the maxim ‘Rubbish in = Rubbish Out’
- Human error is one of the top causes of poor EHS data quality. The best EHS software can improve data quality through a user interface that guides people into entering the right type of data, in the right format
- Don’t fall into the trap of quantity v quality. We’ve seen organisations end up with loads of reports and data, and no hope of getting through it all
- Continually ask yourself “so what?” as you develop your solution
- Future proof your system (yes, right at the start!). If your business adds new sites, or acquires another company, or even just changes the names of teams and departments, ensure changes can be made to your platform easily (and ideally by you so you can avoid waiting days to make amendments)
2. Start small, but make sure you get what you expected
- If you want to get engagement, start simple. Don’t think it has to be totally right to start with. Test your ideas on a small number of people, or do internal demos. Choose people who are normally hard to please. Once they get on board you’re well on the way.
- Many technology companies will let you trial their software to make sure it’s right for you. If they don’t, you need to ask yourself how confident they are that you’ll like it. Trials are a brilliant way to play-before-you-pay.
- But do bear in mind that there is still a cost, even with a free trial. There is your time, the time to get set up, training your volunteers and carrying out a proper and complete assessment of the product
- Ensure you are clear on what you are trying to achieve (see the first section), and relentlessly measure against that. For example, if you wanted to increase near miss reporting, make sure you set a base level so you can check if you’ve hit your objective. This is also good when proving the ROI to your finance director.
- Mobile apps linked to central EHS software enable better data capture in the field, and give you better quality data. However, all apps are not born equal. Make sure you invest in “native” apps (written specifically for mobile devices). And make sure the app can work offline, so you can use them in remote areas or where there’s no internet access
3. Love (or at least talk to!) your IT manager/director
- Getting the IT right is critical. Your IT manger should be keen to work with you in evaluating what system to use, checking things like offline capability, security settings, interface with Active Directory, and GDPR
- The IT infrastructure has to work for your software to be usable. I’ve lost count of the number of demos I’ve done where even basic internet connectivity has been ‘iffy’
- Think about the devices the software might work on. Will you only use company devices, or let employees use their own (known as “Bring Your Own Device”)?
- Capture date in real time and directly in the field. Think hard about equipping your business managers or your workforce with mobile devices. Through tablets, smartphones and smartwatches, workers can enter incident information in real-time, report observations on the spot, or conduct audits and inspections in the field. They can also include images, videos and geolocation information, and carry out dymanic risk assessments
4. Share & use!
- Within a few days of starting to collect data, you might spot some obvious areas to address (get some ‘quick wins’)
- Remember to start sharing the data with your workforce. This is a really low cost route to ‘free learning’. Then use your data to help develop continuous improvement
- Make sure you share the feedback and demonstrate that your colleagues have made a difference by reporting things
- Also think more widely. For example, would it be useful to use the data you’re collecting for your next supplier reviews? You can use your data to understand whether any of your subcontractors are putting you at risk (remember if you want to do this you need to get this set up at the start)
- And remember to use the data in tenders and sales cycles. You can use your system to differentiate against your competition
5. Refine and redo
- Now that you’re getting data, you can start to report and identify trends around the organisation
- This is the stage of continuous improvement and once you’ve ‘nailed’ one risk area, you should expect to see others popping up on the dashboard
- Focus on those, and show your colleagues how they are effecting change in processes and behaviour. Share feedback and recognise contributions to this exercise (maybe send a ‘virtual high-five’ using your app)
- Start to use the data to drive real insight, and help your board (after all it’s them that will face fines and prison if things go badly wrong) engage in the real risks in the business so that they can help address them
Now you’re ready to do the things you took the qualifications for: to go and help make your workforce safer, healthier and more productive by meeting and talking with colleagues and leaving the tools to work for you