How Can A Business Reduce The Amount Of Incidents In The Workplace?

How Can A Business Reduce The Amount Of Incidents In The Workplace?

Reducing the amount of incidents in the workplace should be a high priority for any business. However, sadly many companies wait until it’s too late to start putting procedures in place to reduce the risk for their employees.

As soon as you sense something isn’t right with a workplace safety policy, a workplace set up or an injury on site and how it’s being managed, it’s crucial that you report it. Without businesses taking a critical eye to their safety management procedures, they will never be able to progress and reduce the amount of incidents in the workplace.

If you stumbled upon this article because you know your businesses safety isn’t up to scratch and you need to do something about it, take a look at the ways that a business can reduce the amount of incidents in the workplace.

  • Audit Your Safety Procedures 

Ideally, this is the entry point for a business to go ‘ah-ha, we can do better’. If you’re coming in at this point and have found this article after some reflection on where your business is failing, good on you! Often people leave it until after an incident has occurred to start making changes to safety measures, and obviously that is less than ideal.

Auditing your safety protocols before an incident occurs is essential, and that’s where a handy tool like Audit Software comes in. Auditing your risks, procedures and data is a crucial part of moving forward successfully and reducing the amount of incidents in future. 

By looking at where previous incidents have occurred, the risks that are still present and the ways you mitigate them, you put yourself in a much stronger position to understand the health and safety status of your organisation. The first step to reducing incidents is to know where the risks are, and to understand whether you’re doing enough to protect people against them.

  • Engage The Whole Team In Incident Reduction Measures

Once you’ve looked at what is going on on your site and how things could be better, it’s time to get the whole team on board. Often, companies will undergo these amazing audits and have great policy changes, however they forget to include the workers who are on the ground.

This means that their audit and new regulations miss the vital feedback from workers who will be able to highlight extra risks that leadership teams won’t come up with. By including team members from each department in the audit and reconstruction of safety procedures, you’ll ensure that everyone is in it together from the off.

Keeping workers engaged in safety is a crucial part of minimising risks. Often leadership teams will ‘take over’ the safety changes without consulting the people who actually need to implement them and this is a mistake. Engage the whole team for full coverage of your organisation.

  • Implement Training To Reduce Incidents

When we think of workplace training, we often think about the kind of learning that goes on at the start of a contract. This is often really effective and is crucial to ensuring that people are qualified to get on the tools. However, this isn’t the only training that needs to go on.

In order to do your bit when it comes to safety and compliance, your business needs to carry out refresher training to keep people up to date. Often, accidents and incidents will happen when people get complacent and forget the safety training that they did months or even years ago.

To ensure that the risks of the job remain in the forefront of employee’s minds, putting workers through LMS training that they can complete anywhere is a great idea. LMS systems like Beakon’s will alert leadership and employees when their refresher training is due, making sure that your people feel empowered to take their learning into their own hands.

  • Review And Improve As Information About Incidents Comes Through

An incident response strategy has to be flexible and agile in order to take into account the kinds of incidents that are happening in your workplace. Each site will be different, and companies need to look at industry and company specific data to see where their incidents are occurring.

By reviewing incident data and taking staff surveys, you will get a good picture of how your organisation is managing safety in real-time. There is no one size fits all to incident management, but by reporting, investigating, analysing and proactively actioning issues, your business will be able to improve processes in order to lessen the likelihood of accidents in the workplace.

The Benefits of Audit Management Software

The Benefits of Audit Management Software

Safety audit management software helps your business get a good grasp on what is happening within your organisation in terms of safety. The software helps you conduct safety audits and ensure that your safety inspections meet minimum requirements.

When you opt for a company like Beakon software, you’ll also have the benefit of being able to use a tablet or mobile to carry out the audit. This helps businesses synchronise data so that they can carry out the all important audits anywhere.

The key benefits of safety audit software are:

  • Increased operational efficiency
  • Standardised safety practices by location, auditor, and project
  • Measures the quality and effectiveness of your safety program
  • Helps to save time and money on all safety initiatives

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How Does Safety Audit Software Work? 

Audit Software is an amazing way to streamline all tasks relating to safety and minimise the risk of an incident. Audit software shows you how your organisation is currently performing, and shows areas for improvement. It is a key part of health and safety, as it allows businesses to understand where they’re currently at in terms of their safety procedures.

A safety audit gathers data and information pertaining to safety practices of an organisation. Having this all collated in one simple online system is essential in the modern world, where paper based audits won’t cut it. With so many rules and regulations, businesses that still operate on a paper based audit system are likely putting themselves at risk.

The Benefits of Audit Management Software

An effective safety audit should:

  • Gather data concerning how safety procedure are working
  • Streamline reports and statistics regarding incidents
  • Help to improve the procedures of the organisation by highlighting weaknesses
  • Detect hazard that need immediate attention
  • Provide security checklists so that businesses can mark themselves based on legal requirements
  • Assess the health and safety performance of the organisation and help to formulate improvements
  • Formulate a safety improvement report
  • Develop control measures to manage risk

The Benefits Of Safety Audit Software For Your Team

Safety Audit Management Software is really the first step in creating a succinct safety plan for your team. Without a good understanding of your organisation’s starting point, it can be hard to put safety practices into play. With safety audit software, you can expect to benefit from:

  • Sector specific requirements that take into account the specific safety needs of your organisation
  • A documented digital list of the work you’re doing to audit your safety measures
  • Prove that you are consistently working to improve your safety measures and remain compliant
  • Lower the safety risk of your organisation without compromising other business strategies
  • Implement incremental safety measure that work for your team and minimise disruption of day to day running of the business
  • Collate data and statistics that show the state of safety within your organisation
  • Get quick audit results that can easily be turned into actionable recommendations
  • Get notifications to keep on top of when you need to complete an audit
  • Reduce the risk of incidents on your site
  • Minimise the reputation damage and financial risk associated with negative safety measures 

The Benefits of Audit Management Software

Work With Beakon To Improve Your Safety Procedures

Keep on top of audits to ensure your business is adhering to its legal and moral requirements, with Beakon’s Audit software.

Keen to try our best in class audit software for yourself? Sign up for a free trial with us today! Plus, learn more about the pros of working with safety audit software over on our blog.

Safety Software: The Key Benefits

Safety Software: The Key Benefits

What are the key benefits of safety software?

Safety software covers an array of topics and can be used to improve the safety procedures of a business. Whether a company wants to boost compliance, improve employee wellbeing or change how they do things in regards to safety on site, safety software is a great first step.

So, what are the benefits of safety software? There are so many! Because there are many different types of safety software, there are also many different benefits. We’re diving into the key benefits of different types of safety software, so that you can see where your business might be missing out.

What are the different kinds of safety software?

The main safety software that your business will need is:

  • Safety audit software
  • OHS safety management software 
  • Incident reporting systems 
  • Injury management systems 

Let’s look at each one in a little more detail…

Safety Software: The Key Benefits

Benefits of Safety Audit software

Safety audit software helps your businesses get a good grasp on what is happening within your organisation in terms of safety. The software helps you conduct safety audits and ensure that your safety inspections meet minimum requirements.

When you opt for a company like Beakon software, you’ll also have the benefit of being able to use a tablet or mobile to carry out the audit. This feature helps you synchronise data so that you can carry out the all important audits virtually anywhere.

The key benefits of safety audit software are:

  • Increased operational efficiency
  • Standardises safety practices by location, auditor, and project
  • Measures the quality and effectiveness of your safety program
  • Helps to save time and money on all safety initiatives

Benefits of OHS safety management software 

OHS safety management software refers to any software system that helps a business comply with Work Health and Safety regulations. This is a crucial element of running a business, so having OHS software that you can really trust can have many benefits and keep your business out of trouble. 

Some of the key benefits are:

  • Consistency

Review information, provide insight, and gather a picture of your organisation.

  • Compliance

Ensure your business complies with all relevant Australian workplace health and safety laws and acts in like with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

  • Efficiency

Streamline your safety reports and store of all the necessary information on one single, easily accessible dashboard.

  • Cost effectiveness 

OHS software helps you reduce the risks of legal consequences or penalties for your business.

  • Boosts customer & employee trust

Be seen as an ethical company who puts the health and safety of its people first.

Safety Software: The Key Benefits

Benefits of Incident Reporting systems

Safety software often embodies incident reporting systems, so that employees can register incidents effectively when they’re out and about. A remote software system that operates on mobile can be an asset to a business, and is sure to make everyone’s life easier in the terrible event of an incident at work. 

The key benefits of incident reporting safety software are:

  • Protect your employees 
  • Maintain a working environment that is safe 
  • Minimise risk
  • Ensure that employees know how to report an incident 
  • Ensure employees take care of the health and safety of themselves and others.
  • Identify trends and incident types
  • Predict incidents and prevent them
  • Remain compliant
  • Conduct periodic reviews to assess risk

Benefits of an Injury Management system

Last but not least, an injury management system can have some incredible benefits. As well as boosting employee and customer trust, having an injury management system can also help people recover from injuries and make a speedier return to work.

An injury management system is designed to help injured workers make an early (and safe) return back into the workplace. An employer, employee and insurer will work together to ensure that the employee is reintegrated back into the workforce.

Key benefits of injury management software are:

  • Keeps employees safe
  • Helps the business remain compliant 
  • Retains staff members who have been injured at work
  • Support employees on a safe return to work
  • Helps build better employee relations
  • Builds trust in your organisation
  • Reduces expenses by assisting an employee back to work vs hiring someone new

Safety Software: The Key Benefits

Learn more about safety software for your business!

Overall, the key benefits across all safety software is that it helps to keep your employees and your business safe. When working on a site, it can be hard work to keep on top of everyone’s safety, but safety software makes that simply. With many different varieties of safety software, there is something to fill in the gaps at every organisation.

Looking for more info on injury management systems, incident management, or safety management? Chat to us today and sign up for a free trial!

Does health and safety software save businesses money?

Does health and safety software save businesses money?

One of the questions we are so often asked about health and safety software, is whether it will save the business money.

On the surface, it can look like health and safety software is an added cost as opposed to something that could save your business money. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Health and safety software can save your businesses huge amounts in insurance, injury claims and compliance costs, which can not only hurt your business financially but in terms of reputation damage too. Discover why health and safety software can be one of the best ways to save money, and ensure that you have the best practices in place as your business grows.

Here’s some of the ways health and safety software will help you save money:

Improve how your business responds

One of the main costs associated with health and safety that set people back are the response times and how the business responds to an incident.

These are the areas where mistakes can be made, incidents can be left unreported and ultimately the business can be liable. A significant amount of time and money can be saved by implementing more effective safety management and incident reporting systems that help you stay on top of everything that is going on within your business.

Your business could save money with these systems by improving the response time, minimising clean up, encouraging a faster return to normal productivity and preventing the need to replace damaged equipment.

Safety systems that help you set out how employees and contractors should respond to an incident can significantly improve emergency response time, which in turn saves money.

Does health and safety software save businesses money?

Avoid Penalties 

One of the main ways that businesses lose money when it comes to health and safety is when they don’t comply with rules and regulations and end up being fined.

Compliance is crucial to reducing fines and ensuring that things are done the right way on your site or project. With health and safety software in place employees are aware of the guidelines and have an easy to read guide on hand on their mobile or tablet. This helps to minimise error on the businesses behalf and means that your teams can identify and communicate with the right person when unsure of what to do. 

In this regard, the compliance goal becomes much easier to achieve and maintain, which reduces the likelihood of any penalties that can add up in the long run.

Does health and safety software save businesses money?

Reduce costs associated with accidents and incidents

The cost of having an incident occur on your site can be shockingly high. Correcting mistakes, paying fines, or paying out to compensate staff who are injured on your site can make a huge dent in your profits and in some extreme cases even put you out of business.

Having safety management software in place helps to reduce costs associated with accidents in two ways: 

  • Reduces the likelihood of the accidents 

The best way to avoid having to pay out for accidents is to avoid having them in the first place. Health and safety software helps your business do just that by ensuring that measures are in place to reduce the risk of an incident.

  • Ensures you are doing everything correct if something does happen

Sometimes accidents are just unavoidable, and in these moments health and safety ensures that you are covered and have done everything you can do reduce them and report them if they do happen.

Does health and safety software save businesses money?

Save on reputation costs with health and safety software

The immediate costs of an incident on your site are obvious – compensation costs, costs of temporary workers, sick leave costs, insurance premiums – the list goes on.

However, some of the costs that are caused by an incident are hidden. Included in these costs are things like reputation damage and team morale that can cause issues.

If your company reputation is damaged you may find it hard to generate new business, or keep your clients if they don’t trust that your business is operating safely. This is especially true in a small business scenario, where many clients may know each other, or your story may feature in the local news.

Your reputation both internally and externally can have a huge effect on your profits. People need to trust your organisation both from within and without in order for you to continue doing good business, and a health and safety system helps solidify that.

Does health and safety software save businesses money?

Reduce Insurance Costs when you have health and safety software

Another important and often overlooked cost-saving of health and safety systems can be lower insurance premiums.

When a business is able to show that they are compliant and have measures in place to reduce incidents, they will often see a drop in their insurance premiums.

Plus, you will also benefit from a lower rate of injuries and incidents on your site, which will help you in lowering your premium. In having less incidents, and dealing with them correctly when they do happen so that perhaps you don’t have to claim as frequently will ensure that your risk is lower.

This often results in cost savings through lower insurance premiums.

Are you looking for an exceptional health and safety software for your business? Discover Beakon Software today.

5 Audit Software Features To Look For

5 Audit Software Features To Look For

So, you’ve finally decided to invest in audit software – good on you! After years of doing paper based audits, you’ve probably realised that there is a much simpler way to maintain audit records and follow up on corrective actions with an audit software.

The basic principles of any audit software are that they enable you to collate and analyse data as well as identify processes and procedures that need attention. Keeping on top of your audits is essential to the smooth running of your business, however it’s surprising how many businesses opt for paper based systems, or choose audit software that is difficult to implement or ineffective.

When looking for an audit software that will work for your business, there are some must have features that you need to look for. We’re running through the top audit software features that you need to look for to ensure accurate audits, smooth integration and a long lasting solution that boosts your business. 

It Integrates Nicely With Your Existing Processes

There’s one way to ensure that your audit software is a hit with everyone who needs to use it, and that’s by making sure that it is easy to use and syncs up with the existing processes that your people are currently working with.

Ideally, you want the software to integrate nicely with your existing workflows and blend with your organisation’s sector-specific, individual requirements. This way it can be implemented quickly and easily without distracting you from your business.

It Is Customisable 

To meet the ever-changing needs of your business, it’s important that your audit software is customisable. There’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to auditing – managers need to be able to customise environmental, health and safety audits as they see fit.

Our customizable dashboard allows you to customise a number of factors when it comes to your audit, and means that you’re able to allocate responsibilities to each employee depending on the information they need access to. This keeps security tight and ensures the right people have the right access, without compromising on data safety.

It Has A User-friendly Interface 

With customisable dashboards, Beakon’s audit software is the best in class when it comes to a user-friendly interface that your people actually want to work with. The trouble with buying any old audit software, is that unless it has a user friendly interface, your people simply won’t use it.

Unless the interface helps prevent errors, enables faster training and support and helps people get things done quicker than they would with paper, you can assume that people simply won’t want to use it.

This is why it’s so crucial that you look into the user interface and how user friendly the software is, before you invest.

There Are Great Reporting Options

Reporting is one of the most important parts of any audit, so ensuring that the reporting functions are up to scratch should be a priority.

Auditing software should provide the audit closure and reporting options that suit the style of audit that is being undertaken. Audit reports should enable analysis, and software should make it easy for your people to collate information and understand what the outcome of the audit is.

This is where software trumps paper based systems time and time again, as the reporting function is able to gather feedback and accurately report in a way that paper can’t. 

It Can Be Accessed Remotely

In the modern world, people need access to their work at their fingertips. When looking for audit software, you should take into account how the technology can be accessed and whether people will be able to use a tablet or smartphone rather than a clipboard and checklist. 

To be able to perform the audit directly in the system, look for a software system that allows you to log in remotely from any device instead of writing everything on a sheet of paper and manually entering it later. Look out for good digital storage options and a cloud based system if you’re looking for rapid deployment and top security.

 

If you’re looking for an audit software system that offers full functionality across an array of devices and allows you to consolidate data, Beakon have the solution for you. To discuss what an audit software solution could do for you, get in touch.

Auditing Your Business: Why Use Audit Software?

Auditing Your Business: Why Use Audit Software?

If you’re toying with the idea of using audit software to help you audit effectively and remain compliant, there are probably a few questions you’re asking yourself. “Is audit software better than a paper-based system?”, “Why should I invest in audit software?” And “how will it help the company reach business goals?” might be amongst those.

Auditing is an essential business activity that involves monitoring, recording and calibrating the operations of different departments within the business. Without an effective audit, it’s very difficult to know how efficiently your business is running and is hard to identify any weak spots.

There can be no doubt that audits are incredibly important, yet so many businesses fail to carry them out in a streamlined and easy way. For this reason, even the mention of the word ‘audit’ can send employees heads into a spin and create a sense of tread that is avoidable with a good audit plan and method. This will likely involve an audit software, depending on the size and needs of your business.

If you’re wondering why you should use audit software, take a look at the best things you can expect from class-leading audit software.

Why Use Audit Software?

1. Your Audit Will Be More Accurate

Paper records can mean things get lost and are very tricky to manage. The idea of an audit is that you can tune in to the finer business details and analyse where things are going well, or not so well.

However, without the correct information, your audit will not be accurate and therefore you risk non-compliance if your records aren’t up to date or fully completed.

As well as helping you keep records safe, an audit software program will notify you when an audit needs to be renewed, which allows you to schedule audits as frequently as is required. 

2. You’ll Benefit From International Integration

Depending on whether your business operates internationally, this can be a game changer. Many companies who work overseas will need auditing software in order to consolidate records and keep everything up to date no matter where in the world you’re working from.

International integration means that anyone can use the software, no matter where they are based. It includes multiple languages, time zones, APIs and integrations into other systems that make life a lot easier.

3. You Can Use Audit Software On All Devices

One of the main reasons that people opt for our audit software is the way that it uses cloud technology in order to ensure the system is up and running from anywhere in the world. 

When you use audit software, you’ll benefit from full functionality on PCs, tablets, and smartphones including the ability to process data collection and consolidation and schedule and document management all from one easy to use platform. This kind of consolidatory system means that everyone can stay up to date with what’s going on, and receive instant feedback and sign off when you’re working remotely.

4. You’ll Save Time With Audit Software

There’s nothing more frustrating for your employees than having to gather together all of the necessary paperwork for an effective audit. Paper based audits are slow, difficult to maintain and make it impossible to follow up on corrective actions, which is where an audit software gives you quick wins when it comes to time saving.

Unlike a traditional audit, with audit software you won’t need to traipse through all of your records to collate and analyse data. The customisable dashboard on an audit software system makes it easy to see all of your data in one place, meaning that you can easily identify errors, as well as the processes and procedures that need attention.

Are You Ready To Invest In Audit Software?

Beakon Audit Software is used by some of the world’s leading businesses, including highly regulated, high-risk industries. If you think your business might benefit from better and more efficient auditing processes, contact Beakon today to discuss how our Audit Software can help your organisation grow stronger and safer.

 

 

 

Safety Audits: A Brief Overview of What It Is and How to Conduct It Effectively

Safety audits are a prerequisite for any organization, much more for those in a high-risk industry. It is an independently planned and documented examination of a company’s Occupational Health and Safety Management system.

The safety audit is intended to evaluate the standard of the control and the effectiveness of the system being evaluated. The audit asks five important questions. They are listed below:

  1. Does a Health and Safety management system even exist in the organization?
  2. If the answer is yes and a health and safety management system do exist, is it being used?
  3. If the health and safety management system are being used, is it effective or not?
  4. Does an adequate risk control systems exist? Are they implemented and are they consistent with the hazard profile of the organization?
  5. Is any appropriate workplace precautions put in place in case of an incident?

These questions form the foundation on which the entire analysis of the audit is based. Why should businesses conduct a safety audit and what types of safety audits exist? We tackle those questions in the following sections.

Benefits of Safety Audits

There are several benefits of conducting a safety audit to measure the health and safety performance of your organisation. For one, it is a very pro-active approach because it helps with developing the criteria for further improvements.

These could be improvements in organizational strengths. It could be an improvement in identifying and controlling organizational weaknesses. In other words, it provides a platform for taking effective organisational planning decisions.

Additionally, a well-structured and properly conducted audit provides an objective view of the actual status of an organisation. It identifies weakness, recognises success, evaluates compliance, and determines the adequacy of policy and procedures against legal requirements and international standards.

Types of Safety Audits

There are two types of health and safety audits and they mostly refer to how they are conducted. These are:

  1. Internal audits: Someone within the same organization conducts internal audits
  2. External audits: External auditors are hired to conduct external audits

Although, both types of audits have almost the same operational processes as far as the purpose, content, sequence and depth of the investigations are concerned. The major difference between both lies in the approach.

An internal audit uses a subjective approach, while an external audit uses a more objective approach. A third party, external audit is more objective because it is conducted by expert agencies comprising of well-trained auditors, technical experts, legal specialists etc.

Meanwhile, internal audits use auditors from within the company itself, although, from neighboring departments. As a result, they cannot disclose any weaknesses. Instead, they devise ways of highlighting the strengths of the organisation. In other words, an internal audit is more like preparing for a third-party external auditing.

Conclusion

Safety audit should be taken as a critical link in the chain of sustenance of a safety and health management system for any workplace.

Developing a culture of organizational health and safety starts with proper audit standards set in place. Using audit software can help you fast track the entire process. Take advantage of a free trial today to get started.

 

Audit Software: The Inevitable Future Your Company Cannot Afford To Ignore

Auditing is an integral part of any company that operates under tight regulations and standards, regardless of its size or the industry it serves. It is a means of evaluating the effectiveness of the company and its business operations to achieve its business objectives while preventing fraud or misappropriation of assets.

However, for corporations or companies with several branches across the country (or overseas), auditing is never an easy task. This is especially true for those who are still using a manual auditing process, which is traditionally done with papers and calculators.

With technology disrupting every sector of today’s modern business activities, it is no surprise that even companies are adopting a better way of conducting their auditing process. Auditing software is a revolutionary way of auditing companies in a faster and more effective way to achieve the same results.

Benefits of Audit Software for Businesses

The introduction of Software-as-a-Service or SaaS has improved the efficiency of companies all around the world. This holds true even for companies looking to increase compliance. Adopting software for your company’s auditing process presents many benefits. We discuss some of the most obvious ones in this section.

Audit Software Enables Businesses to Improve Its Performance

At the core of all auditing processes lie the company’s productivity and performance indicators. The auditing process is designed to help auditors look more deeply into the operations of a business and pinpoint non-performing departments and inefficient procedures. Audit software enables auditors to do this more efficiently, thereby improving the company’s performance quickly and efficiently.

Audit Software Saves Time and Reduces Stress

One of the significant drawbacks of auditing is the time and effort it takes – both for the auditors and for the company’s employees. Auditors are known to be enveloped in several papers trying to make sense of data to draw out any meaningful conclusions. Also, the larger the company they are auditing, the more stressful the whole process becomes – which in turn increases the chance of human error. Audit software reduces the time it takes to conduct an audit from weeks to just hours. Additionally, audit software reduces paperwork and provides a comprehensive data trail thus decreasing the overall stress needed to complete the audit process.

Audit Software Improves the Accuracy of the Data Captured During the Auditing Process

Another major drawback with manual, paper audits is that it restricts auditors to writing notes and completing checklists without any additional evidence. This leaves room for both human error and bias because an audit report could be as detailed or as vague as possible. An audit management software enables an auditor to capture evidence in real-time and include multimedia files such as audio, video, and photo. This reduces the need for interpretation by anybody, thus eliminating human error and the need to take additional notes.

Conclusion

Audit software is the future of auditing, and if your company performs regular audits, then you should deploy one in your organisation. It does not matter whether you are auditing for safety management or financial management, audit software is guaranteed to help your company save time and increase both compliance and productivity.

The Importance of Conducting Safety Audits

man-pen-and-reports

Organizations conduct safety audits to comply with laws or regulations and to provide a safe workplace for everyone. A safety audit identifies different levels of risk in each work area of an organization. An audit’s findings can also include how an organization can remediate potential threats to employees and visitors. When an organization follows through on the findings of a safety audit, the workplace will be safer, and there will be a reduced likelihood of worker injury, illness, and death.

A systematic approach is a vital ingredient for a safety audit. Including the following components will make a safety audit more effective:

1. Research safety conditions that should exist in each work area. Look up appropriate laws and rules of practice

2. Create an audit checklist. Include minimum safety standards for each work area and possible safety issues. If an organization has a safety management system, it may be possible to print a safety audit form for each program area. Extensive research helps an auditor to refine his audit checklist.

3. Conduct a preliminary inspection of all work areas. Use additional paper, if needed, to note unsafe conditions, including surfaces and equipment that need maintenance, repair, or replacement and areas where employees need better personal protective equipment. An organization can consult with experts to address safety issues that are outside the range of experience of the management team.

4. Inspect safety records of each program area. Read all safety policies and procedures, safety meeting agendas, Material Safety Data Sheets, previous inspection reports, and reports of accidents and injuries. A well-designed audit demonstrates how an organization has performed since the most recent inspection.

5. Conduct a formal inspection by visiting all work areas again. If a work area is not compliant with an item on the checklist, it’s important to record that finding. An auditor must also ask questions of on-duty managers and workers to ensure that enough information is collected to prepare a complete report.

6. Prepare an official version of the formal inspection that summarizes the audit’s findings. A summary includes comments addressing the changes that management has taken to increase safety since the most recent audit.

7. Provide a copy of the audit to management. Program managers need the auditor’s contact information if they have questions about how to correct problems summarized in your report.

The Basics of Surviving a Management Audit

man-pen-and-reports

There are many reasons for conducting audits, but following are the four most frequent reasons

Regulatory compliance audits

In market sectors such as Financial, Behavioral Health, Medical, and Pharmaceutical, periodic audits are the norm and the guidelines are clear. In any given year, a Behavioral Health clinic in NY State, for instance may be required to undergo 4 separate audits including Medicaid, HIPAA, OMH (Office of Mental Health), and OASAS (Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services). In many of these cases, the auditors show up unannounced or on very short notice.

Compliance audits aren’t technically management audits, but the scores on such audits are certainly a direct reflection of management’s performance. Would your policies, practices, procedures, and documentation measure up to the scrutiny to which a Behavioral Health clinic is subjected?

Performance audits or ‘What’s wrong with our IT operation?’

Often, members of the IT management and staff think they are doing a spectacular job but the customers and executive management disagree vehemently. In the worst cases, end users are preparing their pitchforks and torches in case the audit doesn’t bring about some positive performance outcomes. These audits are tough; the IT staff is defensive and they all assume that the consultants are there to fire them.

During these audits, employees sometimes resign even before the final report is released. This is unfortunate because poor performance is a reflection of management rather than staff. At other times, excellent employees leave because they have had their fill of ineffective management. Frustrations become bitter tears dripping on the conference room table, even from managers.

New management

Sometimes, incoming executives want an X-Ray of organizational performance and requesting an audit is an intelligent professional move. They want a clear distinction between the previous management’s practices and their own and they use the final report to establish a program of organizational change.

IT is too expensive

Occasionally, IT audits are conducted because executive management considers the IT operation too expensive. They want an independent audit and a strategic plan that shows all the viable options.

4 tips for a lower stress audit

If the auditors are coming next week, there probably isn’t much you can do to improve the outcome, but there is plenty you can do to make the process more comfortable for everyone involved.

Answer binary questions with binary answers

When questions requiring a Yes or No answer are met with lengthy explanations, it is a clear indication of a problem. When I ask if you have documentation of your daily security log validation, just say yes or no! If you don’t have the required documentation, no amount of explanation is going the help. Also, I am not really interested that you are going to begin implementing your security program next month. Good for you, but I only care about what your actual practices are at the time I ask.

Don’t lie, embellish, or bury information

I always walk into audits and assessments taking a neutral, objective stance and I appreciate clients who don’t try to pre-program me. I will selectively ask for evidence or documentation for every statement you make and false statements will certainly damage your credibility. When subjects provide evasive or ambiguous answers, my inner Columbo puts on his trench coat. Equivocation and rationalization drive me to keep searching until I get the answer. Just tell the truth.

Instruct your staff to cooperate politely

I recall one compliance audit where a staff member served up every document request with a plate full of anger and hostility. The odd thing about it was that all her ducks were in a row, which is pretty unusual. So, why the anger? Don’t unleash it on the consultants.

I remember several engagements where the IT staff tried to tell me that their IP addressing schemes and Visio diagrams were secret. Huh? As soon as I retrieved my jaw from the floor, I went over their heads and arranged for delivery of the requested information. These events created suspicion and hostility that weren’t required.

In two organizations I contracted with, staff members claimed their Security Policies were secret! How does that work? These sorts of behaviors are indicators of significant departmental and organizational problems.

Prepare documentation in advance

All documentation including policies, procedures, infrastructure documentation, logs, hardware and software inventories, PSA system reports, etc. should be readily available for the consultants. They will ask to see it. I generally ask for all this information before I go on site for the first time and I am always appalled by the number of organizations that have none of the documents that are generally accepted to be components of a solid Information Technology Governance program. Sometimes these data dumps include reams of irrelevant information in the hope that I won’t find the smoking gun.

Auditing for organizational culture

I include a frank assessment of departmental and organizational culture in my reports and it is sometimes less than flattering. Delivering this information to executives and managers generally creates a tense silence while they try to chew and swallow that particularly tough piece of meat. They rarely argue because they know it’s true, but few have dared to state the obvious out loud. A realistic and objective assessment of company culture is required to address the root causes of problems. Bad management, inefficiency, malfeasance and incompetence have often been enabled for years before an audit is finally initiated. Interdepartmental politics, turf wars, jealousy, meddling and backstabbing all contribute to the problems at hand and managers throughout the organization are responsible.

In many cases, executives and managers have worked in large, bureaucratic organizations for their entire careers and they can’t see the signs of broken company culture. They think bad behavior and dysfunction are the norm.

The final report

If the final report is not a testimonial of glowing praise for your IT operation, I urge you to sit back and reflect carefully before lashing out. The report is a mixture of data, facts, and input from your coworkers and end users. I always base part of my conclusions on both formal and informal interviews with end users and managers from every department in an organization. What ends up in the report is a reflection of what your colleagues really think about your operation. My career started with a four-year stint in army intelligence and I actually do cross examine and interrogate. The natural inclination of some IT Directors is to argue and pick apart every statement and conclusion in the report, but this is definitely the wrong approach.

A nearby local government entity with which I am familiar recently received a failing audit from a state regulatory agency. It wasn’t a first-time fail and the endemic problems have been simmering for decades. Several executives from this entity made statements to the press that the audit “was a gotcha audit. It’s all about paperwork and there is nothing real here. We’re providing excellent services.” Talk about denial! I believe they will come to regret those statements since the infractions were extremely serious and they will likely have to return millions of dollars to Medicaid. They may call a missing signature “a gotcha,” but Medicaid calls it fraud. Their culture is so broken that they really need a turnaround expert and complete replacement of the management, but they haven’t reached rock bottom yet, apparently.

In recovery

The correct response to a failing audit is to contemplate the report carefully and develop a proactive remediation plan immediately. Humility may save your job, but you can’t step off onto the recovery road until you admit you have a problem.

Ask for help. Operations that have been dysfunctional for years can’t be turned around overnight. Organizational culture may inhibit a turnaround and objective, external assistance may be required.

Listen to what your colleagues and objective auditors had to say and take it seriously. Don’t go swimmin’ in denial.