Are you currently using paper to manage your EHS processes, namely managing contractors who come to work at your site?
If the answer is “yes”, and if you have ever considered making the switch to electronic systems, but maybe you were unsure of where to start, then this blog will hopefully provide you with some small insights into making the move. We have prepared five key considerations to take into account.
- Ask the tough questions
- Storing of records
- Identify where compliance is falling down
- Plan ahead and involve all stakeholders / key people from all departments
- Set a time frame for the switch
ASK THE TOUGH QUESTIONS
What are the tough questions? Here we have listed some of the key questions which need to be asked in order to identify the need for switching but also to identify what features are needed from an electronic contractor management system. Be completely frank and honest when answering these questions.
- Are you currently managing all EHS administration?
- Is your administration time near to zero?
- Are your workers 100% compliant and are you certain of this?
- Are you very efficient or inefficient?
- Do you know what is out there in the industry to help you improve processes?
- What are your pains when it comes to managing contractors?
- Do you know how to address your problems or issues, and do you know where to begin?
These questions should help you to paint a picture of the kind of system that would be most beneficial to you, the functionality it should possess, the flexibility it needs.
STORING OF RECORDS
How do you currently store records?
If you are not using an electronic system, then most likely you have to file all your paper permits somewhere. Most companies keep all records for a set time frame (7 years in a lot of cases), but there is a cost to storage and it also adds to inefficiencies when it comes to audits, trying to find information that is locked away in a filing cabinet, and the time it takes to do so. A unique feature of a top-level contractor management system is the ability for contractors to manage their own administration by uploading their qualifications, insurance and certificates which are stored in the cloud for quick and easy retrieval. This is especially useful when it comes to auditing time, as all the necessary information and documentation can be accessed with a click of a button rather than time spent trawling through files.
IDENTIFY WHERE COMPLIANCE IS FALLING DOWN
A critical element of switching to electronic systems is to understand the need for making the switch. Is it as a result of failing an audit? Can you say with 100% certainty that every contractor who comes to work on your site is safe and compliant, has all the necessary qualifications (and has them up to date), is fully insured, has completed site induction?
Some of these questions can be answered in the initial stage of “asking the tough questions”, but here we need to really dig into the areas where compliance is a major issue. Administration time being spent managing contractors might be a big issue for you, but it is something that is still manageable, whereas if you are constantly being let down on compliance levels, this should be a major cause for concern and a serious red flag to highlight that improvements are required.
Electronic contractor management systems combat the issue of non-compliance by running checks to ensure that the contractor’s qualifications, insurance and inductions are fully up to date, as well as managing induction qualification and expiration.
PLAN AHEAD AND INVOLVE ALL STAKEHOLDERS / KEY PEOPLE FROM ALL DEPARTMENTS
Involving all stakeholders from the beginning of the project is key to a smooth and timely roll-out. If you are planning to move from paper to electronic, then by getting everyone involved in the project from the beginning will mean less push back later on down the line, as people wont feel like change is being forced on them. Its also an excellent idea to get their feedback early on, to see what functionality each department really needs if they will be users of the system. This stage is all about education and organisation – educating other stakeholders as to the need for change and the benefits of change, and organisation to ensure the project moves at the right pace and is rolled out by an agreed deadline. This also allows people to begin the practice of phasing out current paper processes and not to be making big changes overnight.
If implementing an electronic contractor management system, it is common to have input from Health and Safety, IT, Finance, Engineering, Facilities and Maintenance, Production and more departments.
SET A TIME FRAME FOR THE SWITCH
As with any project, there needs to be a deadline or a time frame attached. Make it realistic and manageable. A change in a process can often take time to phase out one and bring in another. Understand that it will take time to do some research on what you need, find vendors who can meet your requirements, engage with the necessary people in your company, and then to roll out the new system. Additional elements also take time including being trained in how to use the new system, or if the project is being rolled out on multiple sites or even on a global scale, then the timeframes involved will increase.