segunda-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2014

Health, Safety and Environment management - The role of Social Business

One of the corporate areas that is gaining more and more importance in recent years is the one that aims to manage "Health, Safety and Environment" (HSE). The transformations that our cities undergo, labor relations and environmental impacts, among other factors, directly impacts the performance and reputation of any company. The big challenge for HSE is to modernize and incorporate methodologies and technologies that can assist in their performance. Social Business, allowing increased participation of employees, increasing transparency in its processes and giving more flexibility to their operations, can help in this process.

Traditionally HME is an area driven by regulations and compliance. The rules come either from outside the company, especially from the government and entities associated, as the industry to which they belong. They are typically complex. They are part of corporate policy and standards and should be widely known by all the staff. However due to limitations in communication often are not, generating a huge risk.

The main transformation of HSE is to move from a unit focused solely on rules and procedures for a wider role directly linked to performance of the company and with its main stakeholders. It is a complex change and demands an enormous energy, but with clear and ample rewards.

It is easy to understand that failures in systems and processes in HSE can directly impact the performance of businesses and generate intangible losses, such as image and reputation. In recent decades we have seen several examples around the world not only in the oil and mining companies due to the high risk of environmental damage, but in all segments of business, such as banks, insurers, retailers, and others. It is important to remember that when we talk about HSE we are also talking about Health and Safety.

Oil & Gas companies, for example are always on the lookout for this area as they live daily with the risk of image due to their activities. And they, in a very particular way is leading this transformation in HSE when migrating from simply "compliance driven" for a company with a focus on sustainable business growth. The goal at the end of the day is to have a more solid reputation and gain the trust of the market and investors.

New Challenges

However this transformation process is much more complex than we imagine. In this new ecosystem of technology, new variables need to be adequately addressed to ensure the desired results as, for example:
  1. Big Data and Analytics - the amount of data and information currently available is simply enormous. Sensors are everywhere both in equipment and in people, generating real-time information, which were not addressed until recently. Tools of data analysis can identify patterns and help prevent accidents for example.
  2. Social Business - the new Social technologies are already part of everyday life for most companies and can be used to increase employee engagement. In the traditional model, for example the disclosure standards of SMS was slow and uneven. Currently social training models guarantee its disclosure much faster. Moreover, it is much easier to locate an expert in a particular problem.
  3. Mobility - the facilities associated with new mobile devices streamline processes and allow the experts to be contacted anytime and anywhere.
However despite all the advantages brought by new technologies the biggest challenge of HSE is still associated with people, with their behavior and the culture of companies. And, for that, only technology is not enough. This is exactly where the Social Business can help.

HSE layers

When we analyze the impact of actions in SMS we see that the more complex is to act in the company culture. It's easy to act in the physical layer, controls and sensors but if we do not have shares in the cultural part the changes end up getting in the way. Shares in the cultural part can get results from longer term. Of course they are much more complex actions but it definitely has an impact on the much longer term with clearer benefits. The figure below shows this clearly.

Social Business and HSE

In implementing concepts of Social Business in a company to assist in the processes of SMS we can get some benefits like:
  1. Collaboration: employees from different areas with different backgrounds can communicate faster and therefore work together more closely. This exchange of information allows greater flexibility in the treatment of seizures allows the identification of experts and the record of knowledge, which shall help everyone in the company.
  2. Content creation: whether in the form of blogs, wikis or forums, Social technologies allow a much wider dissemination of knowledge. Furthermore, causes experts to share information such as best practices, for example, much faster.
  3. Analytics: the ability to analyze the vast amount of information generated "socially" both inside and outside the company makes it possible to have a much more solid and also faster decision process .
The transformation of HSE area typically consists of three phases:

Phase 1:
  1. Decentralized systems 
  2. Limited and weak communications 
  3. Inconsistent training and gaps in information sharing 
  4. Performance of executives not tied to the performance of HSE area
Phase 2:
  1. Integrated SMS Systems 
  2. Proactive SMS communications
  3. Improved training 
  4. Bonus of the executives are linked to the performance of SMS
Phase 3:
  1. HSE Communities, Experts Networks and Knowledge Management
  2. Collaboration environment implemented
  3. Performance of the company and individuals tied to the performance of SMS
  4. Scorecards with KPIs
The HSE journey is long and demands investments in both technology and in Change Management. To believe that only the implementation of new systems of HSE will assist in this transformation is risky. The technologies and methodologies of Social Business can be an important partner in this process.

Want to know more about the topic? Read the paper written by Mark Weitner and D. Hatler both experts from the IBM Competence Center and Strategy for Health, Safety Environment and sustainability in which I merely based for this introductory post.

Apart from it, this is also a good presentation:

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