Companies grasp the importance of using technology to create business efficiencies. Integrating technology into traditional processes allows companies to stretch and empower limited resources. It offers ways to provide more value to company operations and management systems.
When it comes to technology integration, however, companies traditionally look for an isolated solution to a single problem—a find-it, fix-it approach. A simple example of this would be creating an Excel spreadsheet to manage data from multiple sources. While this creates an improvement beyond the traditional hard copy binder, it is a linear, isolated solution to one issue that offers minimal additional business value.
Consider the data on that spreadsheet and consider how business systems work. Does the data stand alone or does it impact other parts of the business? Does the business system operate in a silo or are there common elements with other business systems? In most cases, there is overlap between data, information, systems, platforms, etc. As a result, building a patchwork of technology solutions to address individual problems is only a short-term fix.
Truly valuable technology solutions take a relational approach that considers the immediate issue within the context of the overall business need, and then integrates multiple platforms/systems, as required, into an aligned system.
A forward-thinking, relational technology approach takes a solution perspective that thinks beyond the singular project need to the big picture and then designs backward. It’s a shift in mindset from “How can I use technology to make this efficient?” to one that asks, “Ultimately, what does the big-picture, desired state look like…and how can technology get us there?”
A relational approach such as this follows these steps:
Case Study in Technology Integration
The following case study provides a real-world example of how a global chemical distributor is following these steps to create a relational technology solution that will improve business efficiencies across the company. Initially, this distributor wanted to pull data from facility reports for 150+ locations into one database—that was the “simple” problem. The old system had facilities entering data into Excel forms. That information was then pulled into Access so the data could be manipulated.
Understanding that the facility data is intertwined with many aspects of the business, Kestrel looked beyond this singular issue at the bigger picture. The forward-thinking solution would be to create a technology platform that would solve this facility data problem and could easily be expanded to other business needs, particularly since facility data is tied to most aspects of the business.
To do this, Kestrel built the facility form into SharePoint as the base application for the company’s overall system. SharePoint houses all data previously input into Excel documents for each facility broken up by 11 regional operating companies with multiple locations under each. The form requires that each facility contact fill out quarterly information on the facility (e.g., permits, fleets, transportation, personnel). Beyond the facility form, the SharePoint system currently has the following modules, which all feed into the facility form:
- Facility images
- Storage tanks
- Facility audits
The SharePoint system is continuing to be expanded to integrate other systems into a single source that will create significant business efficiencies. This approach is creating many benefits across the company:
- The company is able to collect multiple levels of data and then associate that data to the individual facility or provide a composite report (i.e., data required for storage tanks, sustainability efforts, audits conducted).
- The look and feel of the forms in SharePoint are very similar to the original Excel documents, so it is an easy transition and very intuitive system to use. Little training has been required.
- The company can easily track information on all facilities. Management can export data to Excel and create reports. The company has complete ownership of data and deliverables.
- The system can create alerts for overdue items and generate real-time metrics and dashboards. Many additional options can be further customized based on ongoing business needs.
- Additional data from other systems being used across the company (e.g., auditing program) can be integrated and aligned into SharePoint as users become more familiar with the platform.
SharePoint is a dynamic solution tool that can be customized and designed to capture data and provide consolidated reporting to all levels of management. Because of SharePoint’s flexibility, the possibilities of what it can do are virtually endless:
- Creates a single, familiar platform that simplifies access
- Provides functionality for continual adaptation to meet future data management and reporting needs
- Adapts to the needs of the business, rather than the business adapting to the capabilities of the program
- Maximizes efficiency and connectivity between many field and corporate groups
- Allows information to be shared and tracked in multiple ways
- Allows users to easily create complex databases that are both manageable and flexible
- Gives the ability to manage sites/facilities/plants/departments for compliance purposes
- Simplifies the data entry process by providing user-friendly functionality
- Consolidates reporting
- Provides a dynamic solution – updates made to the tool are reflected immediately
- Allows local users to control and build sites to their specifications
- Allows all levels of users to work with it easily due to its intuitive nature
By having so many features and applications on a single platform, it is easy to tie them all together into an aligned system and to create multiple functions/uses for the data being collected from so many sources. With an aligned system, then, achieving the big-picture, desired state (rather than the short-term fix) becomes entirely possible.
All types of business and operational processes demand a variety of audits and inspections to evaluate compliance with standards—ranging from government regulations to industry codes, to system standards (i.e., ISO), to internal corporate requirements.
Audits provide an essential tool for improving and verifying compliance performance. Audits may be used to capture regulatory compliance status, management system conformance, adequacy of internal controls, potential risks, and best practices.
By combining effective auditing program design, standardized procedures, trained/knowledgeable auditors, and computerized systems and tools, companies are better able to capture and analyze audit data, and then use that information to improve business performance. Having auditing software of some sort can greatly streamline productivity and enhance quality, especially in industries with many compliance obligations.
The following tips can help ensure that companies are getting the most out of their auditing process:
- Have a computerized system. Any system is better than nothing; functional is more important than perfect. The key is to commit to a choice and move forward with it. Companies are beginning to recognize the pitfalls of “smart people” audits (i.e., an audit conducted by an expert + notebook with no protocols or systems). While expertise is valuable, this approach makes it difficult to compare facilities and results, is not replicable, and provides no assurance that everything has been reviewed. A defined system and protocol helps to avoid these pitfalls.
- Invest time before the audit. The most important time in the audit process is before the audit begins. Do not wait until the day before to prepare. There is value in knowing the scope of the audit, understanding expectations, and developing question sets/protocol. This is also the time to ensure that the system collects the data desired to produce the final report.
- Capture data. Data is tangible. You can count, sort, compare and organize data so it can be used on the back end. Data allows the company to produce reports, analytics, and standard metrics/key performance indicators.
- Don’t forget about information. Information is important, too. The information provides descriptions, directions, photos, etc. to support the data and paint a complete picture.
- Be timely. Reports must be timely to correct findings and demonstrate a sense of urgency. Reports serve as a permanent record and begin the process of remediation. The sooner they are produced, the sooner corrective actions begin.
- Note immediate fixes. During the audit, there may be small things uncovered that can be fixed immediately. These items need to be recorded even if they are fixed during the audit. Unrecorded items “never happened”. Correspondingly, it is important to build a culture where individuals are not punished for findings, as this can result in underreporting.
- Understand the audience. Who will be reading the final report? What do they need to know? What is their level of understanding? Not all data presentation is useful. In fact, poorly presented data can be confusing and cause inaction. It is important to identify key data, reports desired, and the ways in which outputs can be automated to generate meaningful information.
- Compare to previous audits. The only way to get an accurate comparison is if audits have a common scope and a common checklist/protocol. Using a computerized system can ensure that these factors remain consistent. Comparisons reinforce and support a company’s efforts to maintain and improve compliance over time.
- Manage regulatory updates. It is important to maintain a connection to past audits and the associated compliance requirements at the time of the audit. Regulations might change and that needs to be tracked. Checklists, however, may remain the same. Companies should have a process for tracking regulatory updates and making sure that the system is updated appropriately.
- Maintain data frequency. For data, the frequency is key. Consider what smaller scope, higher frequency audits look like. These can allow the company to gather more data, involve more people, and improve the overall quality and reliability of reports.
A well-designed and well-executed auditing program—with analysis of audit data—provides an essential tool for improving and verifying business performance. Audits capture regulatory compliance status, management system conformance, adequacy of internal controls, potential risks, and best practices. And using a technology tool or system to manage the audit makes that information even more useful.
BY: Stacey Pisani
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Kestrel is seeking a tech-savvy individual who can serve as the first point of contact in introducing our technology solutions to prospective customers looking to better manage their business needs and environmental, health, safety, and food safety compliance activities. The Business Development Specialist plays a key role in working directly with prospective clients to define their business needs and requirements, present Kestrel’s SharePoint approach, and develop identified clients into strategic accounts.
BY: Stacey Pisani
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Kestrel has established a permanent presence in Houston, Texas. The Houston office joins Kestrel’s Texas operations, which are managed out of Austin, Texas. The company’s new Houston office is located at 1010 Travis Street, Suite 916, Houston, TX 77002.
In addition, Kestrel is pleased to announce the addition of Ewan Ross to Kestrel’s Texas operations. As a Senior Consultant, Ewan will be managing Kestrel’s Houston office and lead the company’s Management of Process Safety services. Ewan brings over 23 years of experience working with major oil and gas operators, including 12 years with Chevron, to the Kestrel team. His focus is on delivering sustainable results in the process and personal safety, asset integrity, reliability, and risk management.
“Kestrel is committed to serving the petrochemical and energy industries,” said A.W. Armstrong, Kestrel Principal – EHS Services. “Our focus on bringing in new expertise and expanding our geographic reach will enable us to better help our clients manage environmental, process safety, and personal safety risks; improve safety performance; manage quality systems; and achieve regulatory compliance assurance.”
The traditional hard copy binder of documents has long been the solution for managing Responsible Distribution requirements. However, recent technology innovations, such as Kestrel’s Code & Compliance Elite (CCE)™ software, have started to change the way NACD member companies manage their Responsible Distribution and other regulatory compliance obligations.
In Kestrel’s recent webinar, we discussed how technology is changing the face of compliance. Our team provided a demo of CCE™ and attendees were able to hear directly from C.I. Thornburg about their experiences using CCE™ to meet NACD and other regulatory requirements. Watch the online recording now!
To schedule your live demo, contact us today.
BY: Stacey Pisani
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Safety is everyone’s responsibility. June 26-28, the ASSE Safety 2016 Professional Development Conference & Exhibition will bring together some of the most knowledgeable safety experts in the industry to talk about the latest topics and trends in safety.
Kestrel Management will be attending again this year, and we would enjoy the opportunity to connect with you in Atlanta to discuss how you can reduce risk and increase safety in your organization.
ASSE Safety 2016 Expo
June 26-28, 2016
Georgia World Congress Center
Visit Kestrel at booth #2417 and check out the current projects and services we’re providing in the realm of safety—plus the latest advancements in dynaQ, our flexible assessment software, and other technology solutions we are developing.
BY: Stacey Pisani
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Are you attending NACD’s Central Region Meeting June 13-15 in Indianapolis? Kestrel Management is very much looking forward to catching up with you and introducing Code Coordinator Elite, our new tool for managing Responsible Distribution requirements.
Code Coordinator Elite
Kestrel has brought together our experience as a Responsible Distribution Adviser and NACD Preferred Regulatory Service Provider with our expertise developing and managing IT/IS systems to create Code Coordinator Elite. A valuable management tool, Kestrel’s Code Coordinator Elite is designed to ensure that your company has an easy-to-use technology tool to effectively manage verification requirements.
The Responsible Distribution Codes of Management Practice, compliance programs, and related documents are all be housed in Code Coordinator Elite to allow for efficient tracking and documentation. To enable ongoing compliance management, Kestrel also develops and maintains a number of tools tailored to Responsible Distribution in Code Coordinator Elite, including:
- Document management – storage, access, and control
- Mobile device access
- Regulatory compliance management and compliance obligation calendaring
- Internal audit
- Corrective and Preventive Action (CPAR/CAPA)
- Task and action management
For years, Kestrel has partnered with NACD to help chemical distributors manage their difficult operational and EHS issues–by providing services and tools to support your business objectives, developing content for the NACD-U courses, and acting as a Responsible Distribution Adviser and Preferred Regulatory Service Provider. We look forward to catching up with you at the Meeting, discussing your current EHS needs, and introducing you to Code Coordinator Elite.
The need for a systematic program to efficiently assess safety compliance is critical to maintaining regulatory compliance and safety performance.
Join Kestrel at the 74th Annual Wisconsin Safety & Health Conference & Expo. We look forward to catching up with you in the Dells and learning more about how you are working to meet your safety goals.
Wisconsin Safety & Health Conference
May 16-18, 2016
Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells
Flexible Assessment Software: dynaQ™
Businesses often use multiple tools to support a safety management program. Since its creation, Kestrel’s dynaQ™ software has been an integral platform for reducing the effort and cost associated with managing company requirements and obligations across operations.
Stop by Kestrel’s booth (#1315) at the show to learn more about dynaQ™’s functionality, and to discuss how Kestrel can assist you with your ongoing safety efforts.
BY: Stacey Pisani
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Key performance indicator (KPI) is, arguably, one of the biggest buzzwords of the decade. If you want someone’s attention, mention KPIs. According to Investopedia, KPIs are “a set of quantifiable measures that a company or industry uses to gauge or compare performance in terms of meeting their strategic and operational goals.”
For some individual practices—financials, inventory, sales—KPIs are relatively standard. For example, a company may measure revenue growth year after year as a standard KPI. As we bridge into operational practices with varying numbers of employees and levels of risk, however, it can become more difficult to understand not only how to establish KPIs but also where to get the data.
Technology can help to create a pull-to-push methodology that puts site-specific leading KPIs at stakeholders’ fingertips.
Leading vs. Lagging Indicators
In order to understand how to use this pull-to-push methodology to create leading KPIs, it is important to first understand the concept of leading versus lagging indicators.
- Lagging indicators measure and help track how the company is performing in comparison to its goals. Lagging indicators are usually fairly easy to measure—but they can be hard to influence because what they are measuring has already happened or performance data already captured. In this way, lagging indicators are backward-focused. Many standard performance metrics are lagging. In safety, for example, the Recordable Incident Rate is a lagging indicator. Important information to know but hard to change.
- Leading indicators signify the direction performance is going. Because leading indicators come before a trend, they are often seen as business drivers and should be incorporated into the business strategy. The forward-looking nature of leading indicators may make them harder to measure and they may change quickly; however, leading indicators are generally easier to influence. A good example of a leading indicator in determining the most common causes of an incident before it happens to prevent future recurrence, thereby impacting performance.
Pull vs. Push Metrics
That brings us back to the pull-to-push methodology. Or, in essence, digging for metrics versus having KPIs sent directly to the appropriate stakeholders.
With a push approach, metrics are literally “pushed” to end-users, who then extract meaningful insights and take appropriate actions for themselves. Push metrics can have a number of components that trigger when (and who) metrics are sent to, including threshold, capacity, severity, and timing.
Conversely, with a pull approach, data is pulled in order to answer specific business questions. Pull metrics generally require someone with analytical skills to dig deeper into the data to identify the desired metrics.
While pull metrics may be more time consuming to identify and obtain, that doesn’t mean pull metrics aren’t important to have. In fact, organizations often need to pull data in order to create the push metrics that provide for standard KPIs. And push metrics may demand you circle back and pull further information. In reality, the process is cyclical: pull produces what should be pushed; push cycles back to pull in order to dig deeper into the details.
Creating Standard KPIs
How does an organization, then, get to the point of having standard KPIs that can be pushed when needed and that don’t require the time and investment associated with digging for information?
Technology can help to create that pull-to-push methodology for creating standard KPIs. This requires a number of things:
- The program must be well-established and designed with the operational requirements, capacity, tools, and skills to effectively integrate the program itself and associated data with technology.
- Assuming a program such as this is developed, initial reports can be pulled to check the program’s effectiveness based on a number of key attributes/metrics. This yields analyzable data.
- This data should be explored in many different ways. This allows the company to start seeing the interaction between stakeholders and the data and, eventually, creates the “a-ha” moment of understanding as to what metrics are important and meaningful.
- At this point, it becomes possible to begin comparing data and metrics on a periodic basis, while continuing to pull information from technology. Remembering what queries are effective will aid in establishing initial leading KPIs. This process also will yield improved understanding of how the data gathering process (e.g., incident investigation) needs to be improved and standardized for a more reliable pull of information.
- This comparison of data should then be used to discover what data is beneficial and what information needs to be more granular to really hone in on the standard KPI.
Walking through this process and leveraging available technology makes it possible to effectively transition from pull methodology to push reporting—putting leading KPIs in the hands of decision-makers and identified stakeholders.
BY: Stacey Pisani
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Join Kestrel at the AFPM Annual Meeting to hear William Brokaw present his paper, Using a Data-Driven Method of Accident Analysis: A Case Study of the Human Performance Reliability (HPR) Process.
AFPM 2016 Annual Meeting
March 13-15, 2016
Kestrel Presentation: March 14 at 3:30 p.m.
Hilton San Francisco Union Square
San Francisco, CA
The Role of Human Error in Occupational Incidents
The concept of human error and its contribution to occupational accidents and incidents have received considerable research attention in recent years. When an accident/incident occurs, investigation and analysis of the human error that led to the incident often reveals vulnerabilities in an organization’s management system.
This recent emphasis on human error has resulted in an expansion of knowledge related to human error and the most common factors contributing to incidents. Kestrel’s Human Performance Reliability (HPR) process helps to classify human error—with the additional step of associating the control(s) that failed to prevent the incident from occurring. This process allows organizations to identify how and where to focus resources to drive safety performance improvements.
In this presentation, Will describes Kestrel’s method for identifying the most frequent human errors and most problematic controls and presents a case study wherein HPR was applied to a large petroleum refining company.
Catch Up with Kestrel
In addition to the presentation on March 14, Kestrel’s experts will also be on hand throughout the Annual Meeting to talk with you. We welcome the opportunity to learn more about your needs and to discuss how we help our chemical and oil & gas clients manage environmental, safety, and quality risks; improve safety performance, and achieve regulatory compliance assurance