Friday, November 16, 2018

Automation Technologies Pty Ltd

6 Tips to Improve your Contractor Management



A well-defined contractor management process is essential for mitigating risk and ensuring quality in the work performed by contractors for your business.

Here are 6 ways that you can improve your Contractor Management Process.

1. Pre-Qualification Process - Contractor Obligations

A standardised pre-qualification process simplifies acquisition and provides a consistent way to assess suitable contractors for delivery of services.

One way to streamline this step is to “Make it the contractor's obligation to provide the right information for applications”.

What do we mean? Forcing the contractor to complete pre-qualification forms and ensuring they have adequate documentation before submitting an application will reduce the burden on your staff during the approval stage.

Whether they submit the application via email or an online software system, making it the contractor's obligation to supply the right information will speed up the process for you.

Software systems provide many advantages if you are managing a large volume of applications. Electronic form submission processes can help vet contractors who do not meet requirements by preventing the submission of an application until all necessary information has been provided.

Well-built software solutions may also allow you to automate parts of the on-boarding process as well as ongoing management and scheduling the expiration of the suppliers - again reducing the burden on your staff.

2. Create a Centralised Contractor Management Database

An organised contractor database is vital for ensuring quality and compliance standards are maintained. Pre-qualification status, hazardous work qualifications, permit expiration and contract expiration dates are just a few of the basic items you will need to keep on top of.

A database can be managed on a spreadsheet or via a software system. Either way, ensure you maintain a centralised repository of all contractor information. Using a single source of truth makes finding an approved contractor and their details much simpler.

As your database grows, so will the need to provide access for multiple managers. At some point, you may find benefit moving away from a spreadsheet to an automated software solution. For the larger databases that require a software system to manage, you will find added bonuses which may include the ability to show all pre-qualification applications, certification validity, contact information and work history.

3. Provide Contractors with Access to Data

Providing access for contractors to view and modify their own data will streamline the workflow in your company processes. Allowing sub-contractors to update their own information, submit applications and upload associated documentation removes additional administration by your own staff.

An online web-portal, for example, that updates in real time may allow your business to feed out messages, updated documentation and send alerts to your contractors at the click of a button.

4. Integrate your Site Induction Tool

Contractors attending your work sites should be properly inducted to ensure they understand the site requirements and any risks involved.

Your induction system should integrate with your contractor management process and your contractor database. Whether updating data is a manual or automated step, it is required so your staff can process authorisations to work and permits to work.

Updating the centralised contractor database with induction data will simplify how your staff access this data;

i.e. your staff should be able to look up a company, see they were approved as a contractor, have an active contract, have successfully completed their induction and are now ready to proceed to the final authorisation to work approval process.

A software-based contractor management system (CMS) may assist by automatically updating your central database with induction information, avoiding the need to cross-reference multiple spreadsheets when assessing your contractors.

5. Authorisation & Permit to Work - Visibility is Key

An efficient permit to work & site access process is a vital component in your work site risk management strategy to ensure you meet security, safety and compliance obligations. Whether your business manages hundreds or thousands of contractors on your work sites, it is vital for your supervisors, duty managers and security to know who is authorised and permitted to be on site.

Depending on your work site, you may need weekly or daily report updates for your site managers. If you find you have a lot of ad-hoc corrective maintenance work, the frequency may be even higher, requiring updates throughout the day.

As a manual process, this may be time-consuming and you will need to rely heavily on a well organised, up to date database of information. It will be important you have the ability to produce clear reports for your site management staff or alternatively, provide them with access to your central database.

Software solutions may provide you with the ability to share live data and display lists of authorised workers & visitors for your site managers. They also provide a simple way to track your site access history.

6. Incident & Hazard Reports - Let Contractors Help You

Do your contractors have an easy method for reporting hazards and incidents? Giving external staff access to report issues is another excellent way to leverage off your sub-contractors and reduce the work required by your staff as well as improve safety on your work sites.

Some of the options available that allow contractors to report issues are by phone, email, or online via an electronic form or mobile app. As you move towards the electronic software solutions, the effort required by your company reduces as software solutions provide many benefits like automated notifications, responses and workflow.

Regardless of how contractors report issues, provide them with an array of ready to go forms (printed, pdf, electronic, etc.) that the contractor can submit.

The Key Points

The main take away ideas are:

  • Make it easy for contractors to help you
  • Make it their responsibility to update and supply correct data
  • Ensure all of your data is maintained in a central repository
  • Providing easy access to reports and data will reduce the burden on your staff
  • Understand the various components required to manage contractors and ensure all relevant data finds its way back into your central database repository
If you’d like to find out how some of Australia’s top businesses are managing their permit process, you can request a free demonstration with Automation Technologies today.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Automation Technologies Pty Ltd

7 Tips for an Effective Permit to Work & Site Access Process

Permit to Work


An efficient permit to work & site access approval process is a vital component in your worksite risk management strategy and ensuring you meet the following key worksite requirements:
  • Meeting compliance requirements for relevant regulations
  • Maintaining a safe and orderly work environment
  • Managing risks with non-routine and unplanned work

This guide provides 7 tips that you can use to improve your Permit to Work process today.

1. Application Forms – Fit for Purpose

No two sites are the same, and no two companies have the same risks.

Whilst a quick ‘permit to work template’ Google search is going to give you a good starting point, you’ll need to make sure that the form(s) you use are tailored for your organisation’s needs.

If you are already using software for your permit process, or are planning on utilising it in the future; make sure the software you use has a flexible form builder so you can capture the information relevant to your organisation. An agile solution will allow you to manage changes as a result of ongoing system reviews in a timely and cost effective manner.

2. Capturing the Right Work Permit Application Data

Not capturing the right data in your application can have negative consequences on the ability of:

  • Approvers to review applications efficiently
  • HSE staff to monitor risks and safety hazards
  • Site managers to schedule work
  • Security to monitor site access

Here’s a list of the key information you will most likely need to capture:

  • Applicant Details – Who will be conducting the work
  • Site Location Details – Important if you have multiple sites.
  • Work Location Details – Where on site will the work occur?
  • Description of Work – What work is being carried out
  • Time – When will work start and finish?
  • Impairments - Do building services & automatic protection systems need to be isolated when performing works?
  • Work Hazards – What hazards are associated with the work being carried out?
  • Permits & Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) – does the contractor have all the necessary documentation to prove they are able to carry out the work safely? For example, a Hot Work Permit.

Depending on your business and site requirements, there will likely be other information that you will need to capture.

3. High Risk Work

Capturing information on high risk work activities is critical for risk management & meeting regulation requirements.

High Risk Activities

Confined Spaces
Working at Height
Hot Works
Work involving Asbestos
Isolations involving electrical, thermal, pneumatic, hydraulic & stored energy services
Excavation
Forklift, EWP & Mechanical Lifting Operations
Demolition
Scaffolding & Rigging
Structural alteration requiring temporary support
Work in a flammable atmosphere

If your site requires any of the above activities, then you should consider if high risk work has a different approval process to follow.

Are there additional permit applications or certifications required that your staff and contractors need to obtain? These should be included in the original PTW submission.

It’s important to capture the work that your staff and contractors are going to perform so you have visibility over high risk activities and how they will impact a work site.

4. Approval Process & Workflow

Make sure your approval process is clear for contractors and approvers. Providing contractors with clear information on the approval process will help minimise follow up questions and reduce strain on your business resources.

Workflows

When you are mapping out your PTW process, investigate what will happen after the contractor submits a permit to work, authority to work or site access request form:

  • Who is the approver and how are they notified?
  • Are there multiple approvers (HSE, Security) for different types of work?
  • Does the process change depending on the work site?
  • Who needs to be notified about impairments and high risk activities?

Communications

After the approval process has been completed, how are the following communications managed?
  • Approval & Rejection notification
  • Rescheduled Work

Urgent Work

Another component to factor into your process is how you will deal with urgent work requiring immediate site access, e.g. spills. There are ways around this, for example, having security escort a contractor on site at all times, but this is a waste of resources and not always feasible if you only have one guard manning a site.

A properly defined process allows you to process and escalate permits efficiently. This is particularly relevant with software management systems that can store site induction accreditation & worker qualification data allowing for much faster processing of permits.

Regardless of whether you are using paper, email or an online system, you need to map out your workflow to ensure an efficient process.

5. Site Supervisor & Security Visibility

Your site supervisors, duty managers & security staff may have 100’s of staff and contractors going through a site in any given week. It’s important to give them visibility over PTW approvals so they can plan and monitor their activities accordingly.

Regardless of whether you use a streamlined system or a paper based system, make sure that your site managers have up to date information at all times.

6. Communication Flows

It’s important to keep all stakeholders informed so that they can plan accordingly and includes contractors, staff & site managers.

If your HSE manager needs to approve high risk work, or your site supervisor needs to be notified about urgent activities, then make sure your communications lines are set in place so they don’t miss important messages.

Software systems allow you to automate many of these tasks. If you use spreadsheet or paper based systems, ensure staff are adequately trained to notify the right people at the right time.

7. Keep Agile

Permit processes will change as a site’s lifecycle changes from construction phase to as-built maintenance phase and beyond.

New information needs to be captured and new risks identified. Whether you are using a paper based system or an online system, make sure you have the ability to change your forms & workflows so you can keep you permit process up to date.

Schedule periodic reviews to ensure the system is capturing the right data and operating efficiently.

  • Are you capturing new risks and hazards
  • Have staff or stakeholders changed or have their requirements changed?
  • Refer to your site managers and identify site issues & conflicts that could have been avoided
  • Are contractors completing the request forms correctly, can improvements be made?
  • Is the approval process being completed in a timely manner? Is there a hold up, i.e. approvers not being notified of new requests?

Implement changes to the system and remember to review them in your next scheduled system review.

If you’d like to find out how some of Australia’s top businesses are managing their permit process, you can request a free demonstration with Automation Technologies today.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Automation Technologies Pty Ltd

New Location - Automation Technologies HQ

How's your year going? Our's is off to a bang!

We recently relocated and are loving the new Ultimo office just down the road from the UTS Business School.

Frank Gehry's UTS Business School


Drop by soon for a coffee and let us help solve your business information and process management challenges!

You can learn more about the Frank Gehry UTS Business School here.

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