Passenger Transport August 2017 Vol 75 No 15 - 23

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How Process Automation
Enhances Your Safety Management System
Steve Severson
Senior Consultant
Public Transportation Practice
OTB Solutions, Seattle, WA

In our prior paper, The Power
of Process Thinking, we made
the case for managing safety and
security hazards with structured
business processes, rather than a
series of lists and spreadsheets.

Business Process Management
(BPM) is a business improvement
practice used in many industries,
but has not yet been broadly applied
in public transit. Here, we are going
to dive more deeply into Safety
Management Systems (SMS) and
explain why it is such a natural fit
for process automation; keeping
in mind that our goal is not just to
make our lives easier, but to make
our agencies' work safer, more
efficient, more timely and by default,
compliant.

You cannot talk about SMS without bringing up the four pillars,
summarized above in a March 2016
diagram from APTA. Our first white
paper was mostly focused on the
first pillar, Risk Management. We
described how process automation is a natural fit for managing
the identified hazards and risks
throughout their life, from preliminary engineering through revenue
operations. We further described the
value of looking at these processes
as connected and end to end rather
than discreet disconnected events.
We explained that with an explicitly
managed business process, you can
track who interacted with an item
and when, as well as whether they
deviated from a standard procedure
and why; all very useful information
to have at audit time. We showed
how process automation also gives
you the opportunity to store all the
information and documents related
to a hazard in one place, for easy

quick reference as the process unfolds or months or even years later.
For the balance of this white paper,
we are going to review in a more
detail how this kind of approach
supports the other three pillars of
your SMS.
SMS Policies and Procedures
An explicitly managed process is
almost always a better process, as
APTA makes clear by including
process management in their list of
priorities for SMS procedures. The
FTA also states explicitly that a good
SMS is impossible without effective
SMS processes that are enforced
from the top down by executive
leadership.

Both APTA and the FTA call out
the effective communication of
roles and responsibilities as a key
prerequisite for a successful SMS.
This need is baked into the heart of
Business Process Management, as
one of the major tasks of designing
a business process is figuring out in
advance who should do what and
when. When things do not go as
planned, there are processes in place
to reassign tasks and escalate work
items in a way that gets tracked and
documented. That way, regardless
of whether everything is going
perfectly and as planned, everybody
has a clear understanding of what is
happening, what needs to happen,
and who is responsible for getting
it done.
When your processes automatically
assign safety tasks to those who are
actually responsible for them, and
automatically holds them accountable, the result is an organization

that cares about safety at all levels.
Having a dedicated system to manage your processes ensures that the
right people are doing the right tasks
at the right time, providing pertinent information when it is fresh
and timely, consistently throughout
the organization.
Safety Assurance
Since the heart of safety assurance
lies in effective communication and
documentation of roles and responsibilities; and since an automated
process assigns and captures the
"who, what, when, where, and how"
of a process; let's look at how this
plays out in a typical transit project.
Standard tasks, roles, and responsibilities for the safety and security
certification activities of a typical
transit project as it moves through
the project lifecycle can be readily
mapped to individual or role based
activities within a process. When
using this approach, you simply
assign tasks to roles and/or individuals, escalate when they are
over-due, and reassign them. And
you can track these activities with a
clear view of where an item is in the
process, as well as where the project/
contract is overall. Even better,
when questions during audits such
as, "Was Security consulted during
Construction Conformance Verification?" are posed, an automated
system enables you to answer with
confidence, "Yes, Joe Smith from Security signed off on that item on July
6, 2016. Here is the documentation."
Reviews and Audits
Using process automation as a foundation allows you to build, review,
and audit processes right in your
SMS. It is easy to capture data from
anywhere in the process at any time,
which makes it possible to build
customized reports that actually
provide meaningful information.
Incident Investigations, Close-call
Reporting Systems, and QA
A standard process for investigating
incidents and close-calls has many
benefits. First, it is self-enforcing,
meaning the way it is designed
forces users to abide by the rules, but
it also lets certain users create trackable exceptions when appropriate.
You can use different processes to allow anyone to report an incident or
close call, while customizing the way
they do it based on their role and
linking information and documents
from the investigation to your assets
and to your hazard mitigations.

Data Collection and Analysis
Combining and managing your
business processes opens a whole
new world for data and analytics.
It makes it possible to collect data
from all systems and all places in
the process and bring it together
to analyze in one place. Tools also
allow you to get real-time reports on
how your processes are working and
where bottlenecks are.
Change Management
Good change management is not a
secret. Change needs to be deliberate and come from the right people,
it needs to be enforced in the face of
status quo inertia, and it needs to be
analyzed objectively after the fact.
Business Process Management takes
care of all that by its very nature.
When a change happens, it happens
automatically, without users being
able to sidestep it or even having
to remember the nature of the
change. Finally, new processes can
be analyzed right away to see if they
are flowing correctly or if there are
holdups.
Performance Management
Performance management is a
process like any other, and it works
better when it is designed explicitly.
This approach allows you to build
customized performance management processes that pull in data
from outside sources and work
with it in one system. It means that
performance management does
not have to be separate from risk
management or safety/security certification processes. Information from
one system can suddenly be used
everywhere, with a process in place
to make sure it is useful and timely.
In Summary
Business Process Management and
process automation are vast and
complicated topics, and while this
was just a short summary of their
benefits for your Safety Management
System we hope it conveys a sense of
what is possible. If you would like to
see more concrete examples of how
BPM helped a large transit agency
achieve its goals, check out our case
study of Sound Transit.
What's Next?
Wondering what's involved in implementing this approach? Stay tuned,
for our next white paper.
For an advanced look at this white
paper and related case studies,
please visit our web site

www.otbsolutions.com/APTA.


http://www.otbsolutions.com/APTA

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passenger Transport August 2017 Vol 75 No 15

Passenger Transport August 2017 Vol 75 No 15 - 1
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