Monday, March 21, 2022

Your SMS Conversion Rate

Your SMS Conversion Rate

By OffRoadPilots

Within the world of a Safety Management System (SMS) the task is to identify desired outcomes in operations for both airlines and airport operators. The SMS regulations are performance based, and in a performance-based environment it is crucial to success that goal strategies are researched, designed, developed, and carried out. SMS are building blocks of data, information, knowledge, comprehension, triggers, tasks, oversight, and monitoring. What makes SMS different than tangible project, such as an apartment complex, is that the building blocks within a safety management system are abstract without tangible or physical dimensions. Without physical or measurable limits or perimeters, it becomes a difficult task to assess performance value of the SMS itself.  

Performance is a system in harmony with itself.
Elements of a safety management system are performance goals and a means of measuring attainment of those goals and processes to develop and maintain performance parameters that are linked to goals and objectives. Parameters are defined differently if applied in a technical environment, to mathematics, or statistics. However, its common core is that a parameter is any characteristic that can help in defining or classifying a particular system. Parameters within an SMS are characteristics classifying each sub-system within the SMS itself. Parameters are also different from perimeters. A perimeter establishes a physical boundary which a system must remain within. Going back to the apartment complex, these buildings must remain within established boundaries. Look at parameters as challenges and perimeters as task. A parameter establishes opportunities, challenges, or objectives, while perimeters within an SMS system are task performed to move in a desired direction.  


It is just as important to know what parameters are not, as it is to know what parameters are. At an airport a parameter is not the number of runway edge lights failures in a year, or the number of safety discussions held with airport tenants. For an airline, a parameter is not how many runway excursions they had, or the number of flat tires upon landing in a year. The reason these are not parameters is that they are applicable to operational tasks, or objectives, such as maintenance or training, and are not applied to operational challenges, or goals, such as an established quality assurance program. A parameter applied to these conditions would be a daily quality control program with a defined purpose to monitor the daily operations of both acceptable and unacceptable performance. A parameter does not assess for unacceptable performance only, but for the whole system itself. On the other hand, a perimeter assesses only for unacceptable performance when a system exceeds beyond its physical limits, or perimeter, and reports only when a runway edge light is burned out.    

Performance of a timepiece without parameters are unidentifiable events.

Parameters are pre-defined within the operational management of an SMS system. A safety management system has process in place to develop and maintain performance parameters that are linked to goals and objectives, which forms the basis for a performance analysis. This analysis in not how many failures there were over a period of time, but how well, or poorly, they system itself performed. In aviation weather is what has the most impact on operational reliability. 

There are operational performance reasons why METARs are published hourly and TAFs are published several times per day. For an airport operator these weather parameters affect their level of success to in operational performance. An airport cannot do anything about the weather, but their response, or reaction to the reports and events are critical to their success. An airport’s pre-defined performance parameter, or challenge or goal during a heavy snowstorm could be established within their quality assurance program for the airport to maintain operational status. Other airport operations parameters could be to maintain a FOD-free runway prior to each arrival and departure, or maintain runway markings to maintain ongoing compliance with the standards, or runway edge lights to meet illumination and operational standards. These parameters, challenges, or goals for an airport operator triggers objectives to execute tasks, or defined perimeters of what, when where, who, why and how to collect data and establish records for an analysis of performance parameters. 


A requirement of the quality assurance program is to include a process for periodic reviews or audits of the activities and reviews or audits, for cause, of those activities. The beautify of a quality assurance program is that after a comprehensive line-item audit, an SMS enterprise has a wealth of information to use in their strategic planning of goals with associated objectives and processes. 


Parameters within an SMS is to assess how an SMS performs as data collection tool, information development system, conveyor of knowledge, and as an overall system comprehension platform. SMS parameters is to measure the value of what percentage of personnel buy-in, or unconditionally accept and support the SMS as their environmental culture. While it is true that parameters are numerical values, they are not values of failures, or occurrences, but numerical values of what percentage level an SMS has the capability to identify prospects, or challenges and the conversion rate needed to master these challenges.  




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