Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 21

ADVERTISEMENT

The Power of Process Thinking
How tearing up your checklists can improve outcomes in
transit safety and security management
Steve Severson
Senior Consultant
Public Transportation Practice
OTB Solutions, Seattle, WA

For many transit agencies,
hazards are managed as items in
a list; tracked as lines in a spreadsheet, a table, or sometimes in a
database (usually Access). Each
hazard or risk has associated
information (e.g. description,
mitigation, required construction
documentation etc.), and when
something changes, this information
is supposed to be updated. The list
of items can be specific to a major
construction project, or specific to
one contract of such a project. Based
on these lists, tasks get created and
checklists get checked, spawning
more changes to the list once the
work is complete. If all goes well, the
list gets updated and the documentation is stored, either electronically
or in a binder or filing cabinet.
And when the project ends or the
contract completes, spreadsheets
are formatted and printed, final

reports are produced, certificates
printed, binders are put on shelves,
the database is archived, and the
transit system goes into revenue
operations.
While tracking hazards in this way
is an understandable choice given
regulatory guidelines and historical
best practices, it is not a perfect fit.
That is because the purpose of risk
management is to mitigate hazards
for the entire life of the system,
not just during planning or
construction. Risk management
entails a series of sometimes
connected, always interrelated,
business processes that can span
years or even decades. And using
lists to manage long running
business processes is awkward at
best, introducing multiple points
where mistakes can be made.

The Problem with Checklists
Lists make it hard to transition
a hazard from one stage of the
lifecycle (or process) to another.
For example, how do you ensure,
as you keep your assets in good
operating order, that you don't negatively impact one of your existing
mitigations? This type of handoff is
labor-intensive and error-prone in a
list-based system.

At the most basic level, safety and
security management is a very long
running business process. It involves a
series of similar, but distinct steps that
must be carried out and tracked as a
project progresses through each phase of
construction.

With a list, it is often difficult to
figure out what has been done in
the past. Tasks surrounding an item
are carried out on an "as needed"
basis and are hard to track. These
tasks can vary greatly in terms of
execution and logic applied; from
project to project, between
contracts, or even from one item
to another on the same list. When
dealing with a hazard or risk, things
that happen early in the process of
its mitigation will affect the things
that happen later and need to be
understood in context. It is
necessary to have a well-defined
process for tracking changes and
associated documentation, as well as
a clear idea of what happened when
(and by who).
When each hazard is localized in
a list, usually kept by the Safety
Specialist on their laptop or desktop,

communicating an understanding
to senior management of where you
are in the overall Safety and Security
Management Plan, and how that
relates to your Safety Management
System (SMS), is difficult.
Spreadsheets and tasks are not
effective ways to track interactions
with the SMS. That information
must be tracked separately, and
manually, if it is tracked at all. And
as often as not, the record is buried
in email threads. This makes life
difficult in many ways, but is
especially troublesome when it
comes to responding to an audit.
Checklists, databases, and spreadsheets are passive collections of
information, meaning they cannot
enforce or facilitate a process. Using
these methods is more of a necessary evil to achieve compliance than
a value adding step. And addressing
shortcomings in your checklist,
documentation or audit trail during
a triennial audit is time consuming,
expensive, painful, and frankly, too
late.

Visit us at Booth 312
APTA Rail Conference
Baltimore June 11 & 12
(and their associated hazards and
risks), new lists are created that are
partially or completely disassociated with the prior lists. This makes
tracking mitigations or reporting on
them a daunting task.
Often, hazards in the same stage of
the lifecycle share similarities in how
they should be handled, even if they
are not similar in their actual
characteristics. When you treat
hazards as items, those similarities
often get lost. It becomes easy to
discover and exploit these similarities if you treat your hazards as
processes, because it is easy to
see where all hazards are in their
lifecycle and how they relate to the
process and what needs to happen
next.

How Process Thinking Can Help
Mitigating a hazard in the design
phase is very different from
mitigating it in the construction
phase. And it is nothing like maintaining something during revenue
operations. An item list, checklist,
or database is rigid; it cannot change
easily to reflect these differences. But
hazards and their mitigations are
dynamic. They change all the time,
often drastically. And as systems and
elements evolve in their lifecycle

Preliminary
Engineering

Final
Design

Construction
Management

Revenue
Operations

In a managed process, project data,
documents, work history, approvals,
and other information stays with you
through every stage of construction,
and remains useful during revenue
operations.

To sum up, treating your safety/
security hazards as processes has
many advantages over tracking them
with checklists. Processes make it
easy and natural to transition an
item from one phase of design/
construction/operations to the
next. Processes also allow you to
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. Parallel
processes allow you to find similarities between disparate items, and
exploit them to create more efficient
systems. And finally, they give you
the opportunity to store all the
information and documents related
to a hazard in one place, and easily
find it again months or years later.

What's Next
Now that we have introduced the
idea of process thinking, we need
to see what this specifically means
within the context of a Safety
Management System (SMS). In our
next white paper, we will discuss
how the principles of business
process management (BPM) can
improve your SMS. For an advanced
look at this white paper and related
case studies, please come visit us at

the APTA Rail conference (booth
#312) or visit our web site
www.otbsolutions.com/APTA.


http://www.otbsolutions.com/APTA

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11

Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 1
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 2
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 3
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 4
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 5
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 6
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 7
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 8
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 9
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 10
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 11
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 12
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 13
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 14
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 15
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 16
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 17
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 18
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 19
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 20
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 21
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 22
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 23
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 24
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 25
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 26
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 27
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 28
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/APTA_111119
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/APTA_102819
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/APTA_101419
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/G109231_APTA_092619
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g109227_apta_091619
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/G109226_APTA_090219
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g107588_apta_081919
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g107587_apta_080519
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g107586_apta_07222019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g107585_apta_07082019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g107584_apta_06242019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g107336_apta_06032019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g105236_apta_05202019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g105235_apta_04292019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g105234_apta_04152019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g105233_apta_04012019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g103206_apta_03182019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g103205_apta_02252019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g103204_apta_02112019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g103177_apta_01282019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g99343_apta_january2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g99333_apta_september2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g98142_apta_exhibitordirectory
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g95021_apta_june2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g94374_apta_exhibitordirectory
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g93400_apta_may2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g92972_apta_exhibitordirectory
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g83756_apta_oct17
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g80033_apta_aug17
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g76408_apta_june17
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g76405_apta_may17
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g67066_apta_sept16
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g62719_apta_june16
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g63202_apta_ExhibitorDirectory
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g62158_apta_may2016
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g62407_apta_2016busparaconf
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g53405_apta_vol73no20
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g51480_apta_vol73no12
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g50995_apta_2015RailConference
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g49298_apta_vol73no9
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g50025_apta_2015
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g47108_apta_insert
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g44216_apta_vol72
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g44215_apta_october2014
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/G42152_apta_june2014
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g41485_apta_may2014
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g35800_apta_sept2013
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g34325_apta_jun2013
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g33164_apta_may2013
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g28359_apta_pt-sept2012
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g26606_apta_pt_july2012
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g26035_apta_ptjune2012
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g24531_apta_ptmay2012
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g20886apta_sept11
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g19525_nxtbk
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g19524aptanxtbk
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/APTA/g15954_apta_annmeeting10
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com