Understanding and managing operational risk and improving line of sight on operations are ongoing challenges for hazardous industries. As stakeholder expectations of operational performance continues to rise exponentially, it has become much more of a critical issue for leadership and the boardroom. Traditionally, organizations address these challenges with better rulebooks, new KPI’s improved best practices and more robust procedures. However, more often than not there is no noticeable decrease in the number of High Potentials (HiPO’s) incidents and fatalities.

The Interaction between People and the Plant, sometimes known as frontline work execution is the riskiest part of operations, where frontline workers do routine work to maintain and operate the plant, maintain the equipment and manage interventions. It is the primary source for incidents and second leading cause of fatalities. There are two critical gaps that significantly impede any effort to sustainably improve on these challenges and to support the Interaction.

The first gap is in the end to end work management business process where we identify, plan, execute and learn from work needed to sustain operational output. Typically the work identification and planning phases are managed with maintenance management and planning systems. In contrast, paper based systems or at best; basic, standalone and limited electronic permit systems are most commonly used to manage basic elements of the work execution phase. These systems provide no data, no end to end integration with the planning and work identification systems and thus no feedback loop. Valuable information such as the job actuals and the job breakdown including all of its safety dependencies - is lost.

The second gap is where organizations have difficulty linking strategic intent into day to day operations. Organizations have operational assurance loops for the Plant and for their People that include policies, standards, practices, systems, data, KPI’s/metrics and feedback. In this way, they have operational assurance that their policies are being followed and they have the means through the use of the right technology and the collection of data, to measure status and progress. Yet, in the Interaction area, there are insufficient systems to close the loop and provide sufficient data or feedback in order to drive safety improvements and move beyond compliance.

By closing the gaps with the right tools and technology, organizations can intelligently automate, embed and manage corporate, regional and local policies and processes’ ensuring strategic intent is linked with the execution of its critical business processes. Connecting policy to practice this way ensures frontline workers are carrying out their work according to corporate standards while capturing and generating valuable data on the type, volume and interaction of work, as well as associated human factors. By capturing this data, information can be fed back to the planning process, enabling subsequent future jobs to be planned more accurately and efficiently (with the right information on resources required and safety dependancies accounted for). Furthermore, the cumulative data extracted, across the enterprise, provides a much deeper insight into the real risk created by scheduled jobs across the business can be provided. This line of sight provides operational intelligence and enables local and regional managers to proactively manage risk down while maximising productivity and efficiency.

The cumulative data can then be aggregated into risk profiles at plant, region and ultimately enterprise level delivering a common and consistent standard for understanding, assess and viewing risk for the entire organization. Operational management can use these profiles as the objective basis to make critical operational decisions affecting the relationship between performance and risk. By integrating the business process gap and closing the operational assurance loop between ‘policy’ and ‘practice’, organizations have the key to proactively driving continuous improvement and move beyond baseline safety compliance and performance.

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