Category Archives: QHSE

Simplify your QHSE Management with Automation

Task automation for the mundane jobs has been done in financial administration for decades. Within QHSE management, most companies still leverage Excel and Word to get things done, although certain processes are automated to a certain extent. QHSE management would be so much more fun when the mundane tasks are out of the equation. In the end, the day of a QHSE manager is already hectic enough, without the need for administrative tasks on top. Also, when the mundane tasks are out of the window, it is much easier to engage people within the organization and hence start a culture shift.

What’s in it for Me?

Besides the fact that doing administrative tasks is literally one of the worst things to do, it also takes out the time of the day that could have been used for more impactful things. You can only spend an hour once, and you can’t get it back. As with life, in QHSE it is good to think consciously about where you spend your time. Compiling all the data for hours to get a graph, typing over data to make sense of it, or changing people to do their tasks are all most definitely a waste of time. These things should be readily available, and the data should be coming straight out of the operations, not modified and managed by QHSE.

As a QHSE manager, you are supposed to maintain quality and safety, not do all the administration that comes with it. That is why having the right tools is a necessity. For example, you always want everybody to work with the right version of the forms or processes to prevent mistakes from happening, and you want people to be notified when they are required to do something. Not automating these things will most definitely lead to miss alignment due to miscommunication, which costs a significant amount of errors.

It’s Time to Change

With lots of people working from home, getting the right information on time can be quite a mission. People might not be able to get all the information in the right place at the right time. They don’t know where to find the correct documents or simply aren’t able to access them. These extraordinary times require the right tools to combat them and not just through this time but also for others to come. Having the right platform will allow for maintaining the desired level of QHSE and setting up automation during difficult times.

Return on Investment

The ROI of a QHSE platform is blatantly clear with all the structures that it brings. Also, having all the required QHSE tools on a single platform helps organize the QHSE management system and make it ready for whatever comes in the future. The new structure will allow for a consistent way of working throughout the organization, which reduces the hours required. When using the right platform, the organization will save tens of hours per employee every year.

With Qooling, it is a lot easier for people to interact with the management system. Due to the automation of mundane tasks such as reminders and scheduling, your QHSE Management will feel like a walk in the park.

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Be prepared for your Audits

Being prepared for an audit is one of the most important tasks the QHSE manager has. The organization needs to be ready when the auditor shows up. This is not limited to external auditors but also internal audits, supplier audits, and of course, customer audits. We touched upon the importance of having the right culture and how this influences the audits. When QHSE management is really embedded in the culture, you don’t necessarily have to prepare because most things are taken care of.

Be Prepared

For lots of companies, audits aren’t much fun. They take a considerable amount of resources and require quite some focus for a couple of days. The auditors are able to ask all kinds of questions and will probably find some shortcomings. Yes, we need these shortcomings to improve the organization, but it is never much fun to hear the things you do wrong. Having the auditors in the organization and interviewing people takes time away from the employees, and it increases the stress level of some of the employees. This has a negative impact on their work. Hence, being greatly prepared for the audit doesn’t only help the QHSE department but also the company as a whole.

Checks

Obviously, there are always these things that need to be checked to see if the company is ready. Some important questions we always need to ask ourselves are:

  • Have we done the internal audits, and are we on schedule?
  • Did we update all the HLS documents?
  • Did we do the Management Review?
  • Did we do supplier audits?
  • Did we do the customer feedback?
  • Did we check all the laws and regulations?

This is a guiding checklist and will help with being prepared. Of course, there are a lot more checks and balances, but these are the important ones. A great Management System is embedded in the day-to-day operations and almost runs on its own. Yes, most things can be embedded, but of course, there are still topics that are more or less QHSE management related things, such as Management Reviews and checks for law and legislation. However, supplier checks, customer satisfaction, and even internal audit mechanisms can be part of the day-to-day operation. 

How Technology Helps

Having the right platforms helps a ton in being ready for the audits. You get all the notifications you need to make sure you are on track. Also, having a platform that really engages people allows for much more openness and readiness to share. More information will be shared and created, which is crucial during an audit. When all the information is readily available, the audit will go a lot easier.

With Qooling, you are always prepared for upcoming audits. Due to the automation of mundane tasks such as reminders and scheduling, your audits will feel like a walk in the park.

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QHSE is way more than only the certificates

We all know this, but we can’t emphasize it enough: QHSE is not about the certificates. The certificates should be an end result of the organization doing a great job on QHSE and taking it seriously. When an organization approaches it like this, it becomes embodied in the organization, and any kind of audit will go so much smoother, whether it is a supplier audit, customer audit, external audit, or internal audit.

Culture

Culture is the lifeblood of the organization, of course. Having the right culture attracts the right people, which increases the culture. As touched upon earlier, the QHSE culture should be really embedded in the values of the organization. Openness and transparency are key when it comes to improvement. The organization needs people to be open about the things that go wrong. The number of created issues or NCR’s per number of employees is a great way to see how open the organization is. The open culture will make improving the quality and safety much easier, which will lead to seamless certification.

Strategy

An organization cannot have a great QHSE management system when it is running separately from the strategy of the company. When QHSE isn’t embedded in this strategy, it is not that important to top management, which makes it very difficult for it to be important to employees. In this case, the certificates and therefore the management system becomes a stand-alone system detached from the operations, and their advertisements hardly have any value. This detachment is a recipe for disaster when it comes to external audits. The management system is not part of people’s day-to-day tasks, and therefore, they need to be trained in order to give the right answers during the audits. 

Certificates

The certificates an organization has should be the result of having a company-driven QHSE management system. There are still lots of companies that need the certificates to operate, which is understandable at the beginning of certification, but after years it is simply not worth it. All the hours and effort that goes into merely holding the certification for the sake of holding them. It is important to be embedded in the culture and strategy to prevent the management system from being a stand-alone thing. Yes, the certificates might look great from a sales and marketing perspective, but they are too expensive. Not only because of the audits, but also because of all the effort and time it takes.

Technology

When it comes to the adoption of the QHSE management system within the organization, technology can help a lot. Qooling allows for automating mundane tasks such as reminders and scheduling. Also, it has the ability to make it a lot easier for people to interact with the management system, such as with digital forms on a smartphone by simply reporting an NCR by taking a picture.

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How to successfully implement a QHSE SaaS Platform

Software as a Service is, for most people, a new method of working with IT. This new method brings all new things and possibilities. But with these new possibilities comes a new adoption strategy. So how can you as QHSE manager successfully implement a SaaS platform within your organization and, more importantly, how can you involve people in the process?

Planning Is Key to Success

Yes, it may sound a little cliche. But planning is one of the most important foundations to make an implementation of a QHSE SaaS platform successful. Planning is essential for all the stakeholders, because everybody can prepare themselves for the total impact. In the planning, make sure people have crystal clear tasks they need to do. This makes it easy for them and give them guidance in their activity.

Stakeholder Management

Stakeholders determine the success of the platform. In the end, you want all the people to work with the platform to bring the QHSE management to the next level. With this knowledge, it is recommended to let the stakeholders take part in the beginning of the implementation. Let them, for example, discuss what the best settings are for them and which parts are the most important for them. When certain parts are very important for someone, (s)he will take more responsibility and ownership, which will make the implementation and adoption a lot easier. In the end, you do this together and not on your own.

Smart Small, Grow Big

The implementation of a SaaS platform has a big impact on your business. The daily process is changed and the stakeholders need to work differently than before. Therefore, it is recommended to start small, for instance, with one process. If you let your stakeholders adjust with this minuscule change first, they can adopt further changes much quicker and easier later on. To come back to the planning, do make sure you have some kind of plan for the bigger roll-out. 

Don’t Underestimate

Never underestimate the effects on your stakeholders. Most SaaS platforms are easy in use, but for some stakeholders it can still be difficult. So make sure that your stakeholders get enough training and enough opportunities to ask questions. When the training is good, the benefits will be there for years to come. 

At Qooling, ease-of-use is paramount, from the purchase to the implementation and use of the platform. Obviously, the Qooling team is always there to help. Qooling offers convenience within the platform, but also in the way customers can communicate with us. Convenience is not limited to the platform.

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The Impact of Technology on QHSE during COVID-19

We have touched upon the importance of technology in QHSE management already a couple of times. Of course, as we’re still going through a global pandemic, having the best digital tools is a must. This pandemic is not just a threat; as always, it also is a great opportunity. It is an excellent opportunity to rebuild the QHSE culture and make people aware of the importance of it. Obviously, the health and safety of the employees is important, that is crystal clear. However, people need to have access to all the information now they aren’t always in the office. The complete management system should be available, which is a great opportunity to increase engagement.

Accessibility

The working from home mantra and limited time at the office of the production facility has changed the way QHSE management is performed. You need to do your work without being at the office all the time and having much less interaction with the team of other people in the company. Most meetings are via Teams of Zoom, which reduces the interaction between people significantly. Because of this, it gets so much more important to be able to access all the QHSE information and data at just a simple click. This should be not only the case for you as the QHSE manager but for everybody in the organization. The management system should continue to function regardless of the personal connection in the office.

Change

The pandemic has a big impact on every organization and requires a change in most companies almost overnight. Even though we are getting more and more used to the situation, lots of things are still changing. The great QHSE solutions support companies by enabling these changes. People will get informed of the changes and are able to have online training to adopt these changes and get them in the fibers of the organization. 

Openness

The whole pandemic requires a lot more openness and transparency within the organization, not just about the topic, but also about all the things related to QHSE. Traditionally the QHSE department is the gatekeeper of the QHSE information and data. With the remote working situation, this can not be the case anymore, and the data has to be available to everyone in order for these people to start improvement projects based on the data. Giving this insight to everyone in the organization allows the company to get improvement initiatives for every department, which of course not only improves the business but also improves the engagement in the management system. Another significant effect of being more open is that employees are more willing to engage with the QHSE management system. They can see what the company is doing and how this is really helping the company forward.  

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Why Training Your Staff Is Important

Over the last couple of weeks, we spoke with several consultants based all around the world. One of the things that almost all of the consultants mentioned is that training your staff is very important. It is not only important for improving your business but there are many more reasons why you should train your employees.

Motivation

There were a lot of debates during the interviews over why training is so important. We merged it into four. The first one is to motivate the staff. Motivation not only comes with salary or fringe benefits. Training or education can also help to motivate the employees. They have more challenges in their work and they also learn new things.

Engagement

The next one is that training helps everyone to better understand how everything works in the organization, and this will lead to more employee engagement. When the staff understand how everything goes, the management or the board will involve the staff more within the company. This will ensure that the staff are more involved in everything that occurs within the company, and that will lead to a better culture.

Teamwork

Not only will training lead to a better understanding of your staff or a better culture, but it also will lead to improved teamwork. Employees will get to know each other on another level during a training session, compared to working on the floor together. The training is the connecting factor between all the employees from one department. They do the training together, which will lead to a common thing that they did together. Also, they can put the lessons from the training into practice together. This will improve the cohesion within the team.

Incorporating into the Daily Activities

And the most important one are the things the staff learn during the training, that they can incorporate into the daily activities. This will lead to more productivity and to a better culture even if the main goal of the training was some kind of team building. Your employees will be happier and more motivated to go to work. That’s why training your staff is so important.

Current Day

Training sessions are great ways to motivate people and increase employee engagement. However, the pandemic of course changes the way we can train our employees. The human touch will be gone for quite some weeks, so we need to find different ways. This is why Qooling now has a great e-learning module which you can try out for free.

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Remote Auditing, How to Set It Up

After last week the world looks quite different. People in most countries are working from home, which means that audits need to adapt as well. This week, one of our customers had their first completely remote Certification audit due to COVID-19. They were able to give the auditor access to all the required documentation and information via the Qooling Platform for remote auditing.

Requirements

Of course, the most basic requirement for remote auditing is a proper internet connection. This may sound trivial, but not every location has access to stable internet. Secondly, it is important to have a good, structured and easy-to-use QHSE platform for the auditor to have access to. This way, he or she can easily navigate through your management system and check your compliance. For a more human touch, a video conferencing option would also be great. Solutions like Zoom or Webex are great solutions to facilitate this.

Access control

Access control is hugely important when you set up for remote auditing. The auditor should have access to most, if not all, of your Quality and Safety related information. However, you don’t want him/her to accidentally change something in the system, so a dedicated auditor role should be set to prevent this from happening. Obviously, such an account should be view-only and prevent the auditor from doing anything else. Besides preventing the ability to change anything, it is also important that the auditor has access to all the files. Great platforms allow you to give document-level access to certain employees, so you can tailor the management system to the role of the employee in the company. However, with the auditor, it is crucial to give them full access to all documents. Don’t forget to set this correctly to avoid mundane questions.

Compliance

With the remote setup, the auditor has a great way to check for compliance to the standard. Of course there are still parts of the audit that cannot solely be covered by the platform, such as the interviews. However, the platform does hold the information to prove how things are going within the company. The actual interview can be done via web conference solutions with the data in the Quality and Safety platform as information to support and verify the claims that are made during the interview. This way, compliance to the standard can be shown completely remotely.

Conclusion

After being forced to move to remote auditing due to this devastating pandemic, perhaps remote auditing will become more common than before. If companies are able to facilitate it for the auditors, it should be getting much easier. This does require some form of online platform for the Quality and Safety Management and a suitable web conferencing solution.

Take care and stay safe during these extraordinary times.

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Why a QHSE Platform will help your organization

We talk with dozens of companies on a daily basis that have some degree of QHSE management system. Some are sophisticated; others are plain simple to use. The biggest question for most companies is, of course, why should I invest in a Quality and Safety platform? These are some of the most important reasons.

Transparency

High on the list to invest and move your management system to a QHSE platform, is transparency. Transparency allows employees to see what the company is doing, how it is doing and how it improves. It also allows employees to see what went wrong and how the company learns from its mistakes. This shows clearly that it is ok to make a mistake. Of course, there are mistakes that you will always want to prevent, but things can always happen. Also, transparency on how the company operates creates higher engagement and allows people to help the company move forward.

Structure

A proper online QHSE platform will bring structure to the management system. Most management systems are a bunch of files somewhere on servers or in SharePoint, in the hope that employees know where to find the documents. This chaotic way of working makes employees feel lost and tune out of the management system. The end result is that they aren’t able to leverage the management system to their own benefit, as it holds a lot of implicit knowledge that has been accumulated over the years.

Providing a structured platform will take out a lot of frustration with the employees and allows them to leverage the management system. They can use all the implicit knowledge to do a better job.

Data-Driven Decision Making

When a platform is implemented and more and more data is gathered, the organization can really start to improve based on actual data. The lower barrier to engage with the management system will increase the amount of data gathered. This data can be put to work when deciding on the improvement activities in the organization. Finally, the limited resources can be put to work much more effectively.

In control

The platform will also help in the control of compliance. Most of the compliance processes are covered in the platform and triggers are set when the expiration of important actions is coming up. This will reduce the stress of checking all documents and allows for better preparation for audits by certifying bodies, customers and, of course, the government.

Communication

Lastly, there is a huge win in communication. Because every employee can find everything they need to know, they don’t need to ask other people for the information. This not only prevents others from doing their job, it also introduces lots of communication errors. By providing all the employee needs, it is much easier.

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Sharepoint is not a Management System

Sharepoint is a solution that is used quite a lot for a wide range of automation projects. Often pitched as the Swiss Army knife of software, it promises to do lots of back-office administration. However, it is most commonly known for its Document Management System. There are a wide range of Sharepoint consultants that build solutions within Sharepoint. This all sounds great, but there is a great fallacy in this way of working. Sharepoint is not an Integrated Management System, let alone a QMS or a QHSE solution. It needs to be developed, which comes with the same difficulties as developing software from scratch.

Mapping Processes

When a company tries to use Sharepoint to manage its IMS, it needs to build it within Sharepoint. All the logic, approval processes, questions, process flows, and everything else needs to be thought of. There are no best practices built-in, because it is simply a framework. Taking this approach means that the company needs to commit a significant amount of resources to develop the Management System. This commitment is without the development resources. If the company has Sharepoint developers in-house, this might reduce the costs of development, but it increases the opportunity costs. Of course there are templates available, but they never suit the company’s processes and certainly aren’t free.

Improvements

Quality and Safety Management is all about continuously improving the processes within the company. The Quality and Safety platform should, therefore, allow the people to make changes when improvements are required. Sharepoint is often too complex for ordinary people to make these improvements themselves. Either internal or external specialists need to be involved in making the improvements. Financial or time limitations will have a significant impact on the speed of implementing these improvements, which can lead to inefficient processes that are running for months on end. The problem in the processes has been identified, but it cannot be fixed, which is far from ideal. Proper QHSE platforms allow for rapid changes to be done by the QHSE or operational managers.

Maintenance

Maintaining the Management System is something most companies forget about. There will be no automated updates on the Sharepoint-based Management System. Every new feature, new field, or altered flow needs to be developed by either internal or external developers. Furthermore, these features need to be thought of by the company itself, which limits the options. Great platforms are continuously innovating their solutions based on feedback from companies facing the same difficulties. The result is that their customers can leverage the new features with simply a couple of clicks. No need for internal or external resources to develop new features.

Conclusion

In the end, Sharepoint can work as a QMS or Management System, but it was never designed to be one. This is painfully clear when you try to use it like this. In the beginning it all looks fine, but when changes are required, problems will start to occur. Make sure you pick the right solution for what you are trying to accomplish.

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How to introduce a QHSE management platform

Selecting the best QHSE platform is relatively easy; getting it adopted is the challenge. This is probably one of the most heard phrases when it comes to automating Management Systems. The buying process can be quite a challenge when it comes to making sure all the departments agree on the solution and finding the budget. However, the adoption and implementation is a different game and, most likely, a tough nut to crack. This is why we like to share some of our experiences on how to make it as smooth as possible.

The Consulting

During implementation, external help from consultants and product specialists is key. They know all the tricks in the book and how to set up the platform in such a way that it really fits the organization. They also have seen it running at other companies in the same industry and therefore have a good idea about best practices. Second, the consultant brings in a fresh pair of eyes. They allow the company to really look at all the documentation and check its relevance in the new setup. Great examples are things like procedures for managing NCRs or Document Control, activities that with a good QHSE platform will be automated.

Internal Training

Usually, the consultants will help with internal training. They train key users and administrators for the QHSE platform. However, most of the time, the internal training is mainly done by these key users who are the group expert on a department, plant or project team. Keep in mind that the internal training is as important as the training by the key users. Employees need to be trained on how to use the platform as effectively as possible to allow Quality & Safety to thrive in the company. Quality & Safety is part of everybody’s role in the organization, so people should know where to look when it comes to this.

Resistance

There will always be resistance by people; they are not really into change. Every organization has that one person that prefers not to change because everything seems fine as is. In the new way of working, some people might need to do a little bit more to bring the entire company to the next level. Convincing these people that they need to do a little bit more isn’t very easy. Regardless of the reason, there will be resistance, which will be hard to break.

The number one rule is making people part of the process while introducing the QHSE platform. Ask employees what they expect and what they would like to see resolved. Make them part of the design of a checklist or NCR form. Of course, you need to do this within reasonable levels because you cannot debate endlessly about a particular question. When they are involved, they will have a feeling of ownership and it will motivate them to want to use it in the future.

Second, show them how much easier it is than before. Make it clear how much time they save searching for documents. Also explain that they cannot do anything wrong. This will take away the fear of messing up. Lastly, communicate how the company benefits from it. Most employees do care about the company operating as good as possible. Showing them how the company benefit will help break resistance.

Training Material

Make sure there is some form of accessible training materials. These can be guides, videos or other documents. This allows people to have help options whenever needed. This documentation is critical for a great adoption.

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