Monday, March 23, 2020

Selecting SMS Software Programs

Selecting SMS Software Programs
By Catalina 9

When selecting an SMS software program, the task becomes to select a program that gives you an SMS workout. It’s not to pick a program where you can sit back and relax that will give you the most benefits. A supporting SMS software is there for you to tell you a story of how your operation is safe. It’s there so you don’t need to second-guess your decision anymore. An effective SMS program there to take the pressure of the Accountable Executive. A trap that’s easy to fall into is that an enterprise ranks instant gratification as a high priority when selecting the SMS software. Instant gratification is a hazard to aviation safety. Human nature is the path of least resistance and these facts are pushed in sales and marketing. Everyone wants something better, cheaper, faster and we want it now.

A cloud based SMS program is a force-multiplier
Understanding sales techniques and behaviors are critical skills and tool for selecting a program. Sales are processes and process control. An excellent salesperson applies in-control processes in their presentations. This is a positive behavior, since that person is then filling the needs of what an enterprise has defined, rather that imposing their opinions of what an enterprise needs are. The first step in selecting an SMS software, or cloud-based program, is to ask: What’s In It For Me? The second question is to ask: How does your SMS program improve over our existing SMS program? The third question is: “Why does the Global Aviation Industry, being Airlines or Airports, need a Safety Management System (SMS) today, when they were safe yesterday without an SMS?”

An Accountable Executive and Senior Management must be able to answer the question whey they need a Safety Management System. If the answer is not known, there is no need to investigate and research an SMS software program. Without knowing the answer their decision to what program to purchase, or if they should purchase at all, becomes a biased decision and not a decision based on facts and data. The salesperson should also be able to give a general answer to this question, but since they are not intimate familiar with your operations it is not reasonable to expect a direct answer applicable to your enterprise.

Making a choice is to pick one element and run with it
When selecting an SMS program service provider, it is vital to the selection to know that selling is not telling. The more a salesperson talks about themselves and their program, the less faith they have in the product or service they are selling. The more questions they ask about your enterprise, the more they know how their program functions. Sales is what makes businesses profitable and when researching SMS programs, the task also becomes to decide to what level a salesperson’s comprehension of their program is.

It is extremely labor intensive to operate a Safety Management System manually by using spreadsheets and relying on memory. When open reports exceed three reports, oversight and monitoring is lost in the masses. Everything becomes a blur, it becomes unclear of how the current safety level was reached and operating with an SMS no longer make sense. When SMS becomes irrelevant, the path of least resistance is to revert to pre-SMS processes. This drift or change is not noticeable to the enterprise and with the next incident or accident they are taken by a surprise why the SMS didn’t fix the problem and prevented the occurrence. The reason for the surprise is not that they did not catch errors, but that they did not analyze processes how operations performed while in compliance. The path of least resistance is to assume that operations, or process inputs, are acceptable when the output is acceptable. It’s crucial to the integrity of SMS to comprehend that input processes could be complete failures, while the outcome still is acceptable.   

The two options when operating an SMS is to increase the labor force for each person to be responsible for maximum three open reports at a time or operate with an online SMS program as a force-multiplier of operational effectiveness. When operating with an online system, it is crucial that Senior Management comprehend their own SMS. Comprehension comes from data, which are turned into information. Information is then transferred into knowledge and knowledge is required for comprehension of one system or multiple interacting systems.

When selecting an SMS program, the most important factor is the simplicity of submitting a report. An initial report should require a maximum of five fields and take less than a minute to process. These fields should include the name of contributor or anonymous reporting, a date, a location, aircraft or vehicle identification and a narrative. SMS is hard work, and the hard work begins after a report is received and is not integrated in the reporting itself.

When selecting an SMS program service provider consider these three elements:
1.    What is the impact, hazard or risk level if we don’t solve the challenges defined in occurrence or hazard reports;
2.    How is the preliminary selected supplier superior to other suppliers; and
3.    Establish a timeline of three months to activate your SMS online program.
a.    Three months are required to:
                                              i.     One month to analyze and research #1;
                                             ii.     One month to analyze and research #2; and
                                           iii.     One month to design, implement and train personnel.

An isotope may have a half-time of billions of years, while the half-time of a process is a split second.


Monday, March 9, 2020

Avoid The SMS Traps

Avoid The SMS Traps

By Catalina9

There are several traps or hazards associated with a Safety Management System (SMS) program. The three major traps both the regulator and operators fall into are expectations, non-punitive reporting and human factors. The first trap is the expectation trap that applying opinion-based activities ensures regulatory compliance. The second trap is the non-punitive reporting policy trap applying an expectation of punitive actions, or an expectation that punishment is acceptable for illegal activity, negligence or wilful misconduct. The third SMS trap is the human factors trap that a root cause is the absence of a behavior within a defined timeline qualifying as either illegal activity, negligence or wilful misconduct.   

Expectations applied correctly is for a desirable outcome.
Job performance compliance with expectations are necessary in our daily interactions, any profession or areas of airline or airport operations. Driving down the highway there is an expectation that an operator of a private vehicle has a system is in place to travel at or below the speed limit, stay on the correct side of the road or comply with the standards of highway travel. In the trucking industry there is an expectation that operators have systems in place to calculate the weight loaded on the truck or the height of the vehicles. There are expectations that commercial long-haul trucks, at any time during their travel on the highways, have operational systems such as brakes, steering, lights or tires that are conforming to the standards. Just as in any other industry, there are expectations established for compliance with the Safety Management System regulations. Anyone could fall into the expectation traps, or hazards. Organizational titles with roles and responsibilities within SMS, or regulatory oversight does not ensure that a person applies expectations equally, without bias or suitability for size and complexity of the operations. SMS expectations may be applied different regionally or may be applied different based on a person’s background and experience. Expectations may be applied different based on what is expected politically, what is expected by supervisors, management or the Accountable Executive or may be applied differently based on comprehension of systems. The expectation trap becomes an extreme hazard to aviation when a finding, by internal or by external audits, is applied to the expectation itself, assuming this expectation to be the only acceptable behavior for regulatory compliance.      

A job performance review is not a review of legal or illegal activities.
Non-Punitive Reporting Policy:
The second SMS trap is the application of a non-punitive reporting policy. A non-punitive policy is to provide immunity from disciplinary action for employees that report hazards, incidents or accidents and ensure that the policy is widely understood within the organization. A non-punitive reporting policy is built on a just-culture, where there is trust, learning, accountability and information sharing. Within a just-culture an enterprise operates with training systems that includes learning areas about trust, learning processes, accountability and information sharing. Just-culture learning is about having documented processes in place to identify training requirements so that personnel are competent to perform their duties. With these simple steps any person may report hazards, incidents or accidents without fear of failures, or punishment. The report is entered into the SMS system as data. Data is fair and unbiased. Data is processed into information to be absorbed by one of the five senses. As information is absorbed by a person, that person gain knowledge. With knowledge a person comprehends one system, and multiple interacting systems. Other expectations of a non-punitive policy are to establish conditions under which punitive disciplinary action would be considered. Some of the most common conditions are illegal activity, negligence or wilful misconduct. There is an expectation that the Accountable Executive of an organization clearly defines when punitive disciplinary actions would be considered. Including the words “illegal activity, negligence or wilful misconduct”, or making these words policies, does not clearly define reasons for punitive actions. When Accountable Executives behave in a manner that implements these options, they are falling into an expectation trap that of an unsafe behavior since illegal activity, negligence or wilful misconduct are not within a job description or job-performance criteria.

An Accountable Executive implementing illegal activity, negligence or wilful misconduct as reasons for punishment contradicts a just-culture, where there is trust, learning, accountability and information sharing. Illegal activity is a behavior violating a regulation which the courts decision to establish guilt of illegal activity and it’s not an Accountable Executive’s role. For negligence to be applicable as a reason for punishment it must be established and defined what it is prior to the behavior takes place. Negligence after the fact is a biased interpretation of the action. An Accountable Executive who applies a negligence policy for a reason of punishment has established a policy accepting that their own enterprise only accept mediocracy. When wilful misconduct is implemented as a policy it must be establish prior to the event and clearly defined. An Accountable Executive who implements this policy, contradicts the non-punitive reporting policy expectation itself.

The intent of including illegal activity, negligence or wilful misconduct as reasons for punishment comes with good intentions. However, intentions are irrelevant in aviation safety. It’s actions that are relevant. With these policies implemented there are no reasons for reporting and only those who do not understand these policies will make reports. The expectation trap becomes an extreme hazard to aviation when illegal activity, negligence or wilful misconduct are applied as a reasoning and leave no room for trust, learning, accountability and information sharing. 

Human Factors is the domino effect of operations.
Human Factors:
The third SMS trap that is easy to fall into is the human factors trap. Aviation before SMS was simple. After an accident the pilot was blamed, and problem solved. …at leased in the eyes of regulatory oversight and the public opinion. SMS was fist implemented in Canada in 2006. Between 1903 and 2006 aviation safety was generally speaking a reactive process with the flying public unaware of the hazards.

After decades of improving airplane design and technology, pilot training and expectations, flying was sold as the safest mode of transportation. In the 70’ human factors research gained interest and the SHELL model was developed. This model is the interaction between Liveware (human interactions) and Liveware, Liveware hand Hardware, Liveware and Software and Liveware and Environment. The environment is the work environment and how user-friendly the workstation is. In addition, the environment is about climate, topography and weather. How a workstation is design is a positive addition in a goal to satisfy an expectation of the job description. However, the climate, topography and the weather all impact processes to satisfy a job performance expectation. Human factors are to analyze how success is reached, or how flight crew, or airport personnel behave to ensure that human factors expectations are met. That several performance parameters are met is not an indication that the crew followed processes or procedures. When a parameter is satisfactory to the management, e.g. on time departures, runway surface condition reporting or maintenance performed, it does not show how the tasks were met. It only shows that it was.

As an Accountable Executive, take a minute, if that is enough time, and write down all the rules a pilot or airport manger needs to be able to recall in their daily job. If an AE is not able to recall all rules, the enterprise has just fallen into the third SMS Human Factors trap. It is important to know what an undesired event in operations is. However, it is not practical within an SMS world to apply what went wrong to improve safety. Operations goes right most of the times. Pilots and airport personnel live by the GSD rule, or Get Stuff Done. Within any job sacrifices must be made and if rules and expectations are prohibiting job performance, the job falls into the GSD category. For an SMS to function the AE must comprehend all systems and become an interactive part of operations. An AE is not there as a rule maker for downstream enforcement, but as an oversight body comprehending why things goes right most of the times. When an enterprise finds out why things go right, that is when they have reached a level where continuous safety improvements are within reach.  The expectation trap becomes an extreme hazard to aviation when Human Factors are analyzed to errors only and not to success. Within any success lays at least one failure.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

21 Goals To Run Your SMS

21 Goals To Run Your SMS
By Catalina9

There are many effective ways to run a Safety Management System (SMS) and selecting the 21 goals that works for your enterprise is in itself a humongous task. When building your SMS, the first task is to decide on your expected outcome of the Safety Management System. A goal achievement task is a prerequisite for developing your SMS policy and is a written plan of action. SMS guidance material is accompanied by 95 expectations. These are expectations for the SMS to conform to both regulatory compliance and for safety in operations. Regulatory requirements are to develop a safety policy, safety management plan, documents and recordkeeping, safety oversight, training, emergency response and quality assurance with a vision of an outcome. In operations the outcome is an action where we don’t manage risks, but lead personnel, manage equipment and validate operational design for improved performance above the safety risk level bar. Operations is leadership motivation. Human factors strongly impact operational expectations with special cause variations. It’s therefore much more difficult for operational expectations to conform to the visions of regulatory compliance expectations.

Pick your goal achievement door and run with it.

If the only purpose of a Safety Management System is to be safe, there is no room for improvement of operational processes. When selecting the 21 ways to run your SMS, the SMS project plan becomes one single plan with 21 goals to achieve.

The first goal achievement plan for a successful SMS is to develop a safety policy where safety paramount. Safety becomes paramount when operational processes are linked to the SMS safety policy. 

The second goal achievement plan for a successful SMS is to develop a just culture within your enterprise. Everyone believe they work within a just culture, but there are four specific tests that must be passed to document a just culture.
1.    Trust – there must be trust within your organization;
2.    Learning – there must be an ongoing learning environment within your organization;
3.    Accountability – there must be forward-looking accountability within your organization; and
4.    Information Sharing – there must be information sharing between all personnel.

SMS is reporting within a confidential environment.

The third goal achievement plan for a successful SMS is to develop a confidential reporting system. This is a reporting system where only one or a few selected management personnel review incoming reports. In addition, none of these reports are shared with any third-party, vendors or customers.
The fourth goal achievement for a successful SMS is to develop a non-punitive reporting policy. This is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, but a policy that is based on organizational behavior and acceptance of how leadership motivation is reflected in personnel behavior. A report received pursuant to the non-punitive reporting policy initiates a review of expectations and training. It’s therefore incumbent on the person involved to submit a report as soon as capable of reporting. The second element of a non-punitive reporting policy is that SMS does not accepts reporting by anyone of errors or omission.  

The fifth goal achievement for a successful SMS is a comprehensive training program for all processes. In the old days of aviation, the pre-SMS days, training was a sign of lack of skills. Incidents were classified as pilot-error, the pilot was fired, and problem solved. However, incidents and accidents kept up, even as new pilots were hired. The purpose of initial training and update training is to learn new skills, learning about just culture environment, introduction to accountability and comprehension of systems. While recurrent and refresher training is reinforcement of current knowledge, just culture, accountability and comprehension of systems. Training is based on data. Data is turned into information, information turned into knowledge and knowledge turned into comprehension of one system, or several interacting systems.  

Roles within the SMS are pre-defined.

The sixth goal achievement for a successful SMS are personnel roles within a Safety Management System. Everyone plays a role, but outside of an SMS environment very few comprehend their roles. Roles are defined and comprehended by senior management, while other personnel are acting on directions and descriptive tasks. The most difficult task within the new SMS world, is for senior management to accept their roles in project solutions leadership motivation personnel as opposed to a hierarchy where their actions are protected by their titles.

The seventh goal achievement for a successful SMS are personnel responsibilities within a Safety Management System. Everyone has responsibilities, but outside of an SMS environment very few comprehend what they are. Most personnel in a the old-fashion hierarchy expects their responsibilities to be whatever they are told t do by a supervisor, or whatever their prescriptive job description states. In an SMS world, everyone has roles within a just culture system.

The eighth goal achievement for a successful SMS is a clear commitment to safety by the enterprise. Items 1-7 is a prerequisite for a clear commitment to safety. Except for items 19-20 & 21, the other goals may be arranged in any random order.

The ninth goal achievement for a successful SMS is that the safety policy is implemented at all levels in the organization. The same SMS safety policy is applicable to the AE/CEO/President as to any other personnel within the organization. A simple quality assurance test of the SMS is the AE’s involvement in hazard reporting. 

The tenth goal achievement for a successful SMS is that the safety policy is communicated to all personnel. During the pre-SMS days, communication was a one-way street, where it was assumed that information communicated was read, accepted and comprehended. Within an SMS world, communication is a two-way street of checks and balances. 

A Safety Management System is supported internally and externally.

The eleventh goal achievement for a successful SMS is to include vendors, suppliers and other third-party contractors. All third-party operations affect the safety of your customer. Safety must always be viewed from the point of view of a customer. In sales, the saying is that the customer is always right. In SMS, the customer is also always right. Customers are right in that they must be ensured, without doubt, a safe travel from the time they board an airplane until the time they deplane at their destination. Customer safety involves both airlines and airports.

The twelfth goal achievement for a successful SMS is to establish conditions under which punitive disciplinary actions would be considered for both organizational personnel and vendors. Avoid the trap to include illegal activity, negligence or wilful misconduct. The answer to conditions under which punitive disciplinary actions is “none”.  Accept with accountability that when there are issues, these issues are due to human factors, organizational, supervision or environmental factors. When there are concerns within an organization, the first task to identify the problem is for the AE/CEO/President to take a look into the mirror. Often, lack of performance is due to lack of leadership motivation.

Comprehension of systems interactions is a successful SMS.

The thirteenth goal achievement for a successful SMS is that the person managing the SMS comprehend the concept of a Safety Management System. The person managing SMS may be a third-party consultant, third-party confidential advisor or any person who fulfils the required job functions and responsibilities. There are no certificate requirements for a person managing the SMS to be SMS qualified and it becomes a judgment call by the AE of who is the best qualified. Item 21, Quality Assurance, is also an audit of the qualifications of the AE and SMS Manager.

The fourteenth goal achievement for a successful SMS is that all personnel comprehend their authorities, responsibilities and accountabilities. This is not confirmed by a quiz or test, but by monitoring the SMS.

The fifteenth goal achievement for a successful SMS are effective communication processes. Communication is clear when there is a voluntary action initiated by the communication process and that operations conform to the SMS safety policy.

The sixteenth goal achievement for a successful SMS is a Management Review of the Safety Management System. In order to conserve the integrity of a Safety Management System a professional Management Review Facilitator is brought in to run the review.  

The seventeenth goal achievement for a successful SMS is an emergency response plan for both airlines and airports. An airline Emergency Response Plan is evacuation of passengers and crews, while an Airport Emergency Response Plan is for the safety of passengers and crews after they have evacuated the aircraft.

The eighteenth goal achievement for a successful SMS is a process for the dissemination of safety information throughout the organization, to vendors, suppliers, other third-party contractors and customers.

The nineteenth goal achievement for a successful SMS is monitoring of the SMS and of operational processes. This is achieved by applying the Daily Rundown system including project solutions leadership motivation.

The twentieth goal achievement for a successful SMS is to operate within a quality control program. Included in any action there is a conclusion with a quality control element.

Monitoring of drift is crucial in a successful SMS
The twenty first goal achievement for a successful SMS is to operate within a quality assurance program.

Your goals are achieved by making a written goal achievement project plan, recording of processes, analysis of the outcome and applying processes that conform to the expectation of outcome.


Selecting SMS Software Programs

Selecting SMS Software Programs By Catalina 9 W hen selecting an SMS software program, the task becomes to select a program that gi...