Clause 7 - Support
It is important to recognise that within the structure of a business and a management system, the resources are not just about the people. In some businesses they may be, but you've got to remember that often it's the infrastructure that we work in, the equipment, the buildings, the facilities, the utilities, include in that, hardware and software, are important these days, as well as any types of communication methodology that we use, and also about the environment that our people are working in.
Also, within resources, is the method in how we monitor and measure, associated to our equipment, associated to legal requirements, our statutory requirements, and also associated to calibration and traceability of equipment.
The last one is about organisational knowledge.
Organisational knowledge is a new area that was brought into the standards 2015, and I think this was very much about the experience of seeing how knowledge can easily leave a business. Actually, we heard quite a bit in the oil and gas industry, about how knowledge is leaving the industry, never mind just a business.
Organisational knowledge is about how that knowledge is taken from individuals and put into the business.
As part of your management system, as part of the support and infrastructure, you need to be able to put competence in your business. That competence can be brought in, it can be educated inside your business, and a multitude of areas can be used to kind of drive that competence.
We have to determine what competence we need for our systems to work and our business to operate?
How do we ensure that persons are competent? and the basis of whether it be education, training, experience, coaching, etc.
Where applicable, where we see that that is causing us some weakness, what action can we take and what action have we taken to do that?
And do we retain appropriate documented evidence to show that competence process and in particular, has it worked?
One of the things I always think about is, if we want to be a really effective and efficient business the first thing you should think about is return on investment. If I invest in something, what do I get back from it?
If you're going to be investing in training, there's got to be an end goal of what that is trying to achieve.
· Is it to build improvement into your business?
· Is it to help people be smarter and more efficient using equipment that you have?
· Is it to remove the need to pay extra for an external source or external subcontractor whereas having that knowledge inside the business is more efficient or effective?
One of the first things I hear often in response to an auditor when competence is raised, is ‘we have a training matrix’.
I think people have to understand a little bit more about competencies and what it is.
When we present this, we talk about a three-legged stool, if you can imagine a three-legged stool, if any one of those legs that is weak, the whole base of the stool is weak.
What we're going to think about here is, what is it that’s inside this three-legged stool, that gives us the confidence that we've got competence?
Obviously, we can bring people into an organisation that have got the knowledge, they have the qualifications, they have the certificates and so on, and often, we can increase that knowledge by giving them training.
As well as having the knowledge, we want to be confident that they have the skills depending on whereabouts in the business they’re coming in and what step on the ladder you want them to be.
You may need someone that's got the knowledge and has the skills and has demonstrated by their means of experience, references, their certificate so on.
It may be that you bring someone in, provide them with the training and have them on a competence path. It might be that for them to get to that level in terms of skill, they need so many years working, doing that job. You may try and fast track that by a level of coaching, and that may be other people in the organisation coaching this individual to increase their skill level a little bit quicker.
It is important to recognise the third one because a lot of people forget about this. The third one is desire.
It's actually the desire of the individuals to want to use their competence. We all will have experienced some time or another, someone that has all the knowledge they need. They are very skilled at what they can do, but sometimes on a Monday morning, maybe they've had a heavy weekend, they just can't be bothered, and their competence is not coming through. They don't really have the desire to use the knowledge and skills that they have to be able to do the right thing. And whether that may be from a health and safety point of view, so having the knowledge and the skills to do the job safely and follow the risk assessment and controls permit, or whether that be to do with a more technical activity in what they're doing.
That's one of the areas that we really put a bit focus into the desire aspect. I think it's important to recognise that from a desire point of view if people don't want to do the right thing, more training and more coaching is not really going to change it significantly.
It's a requirement really for management, if you've got people that just like sort of, violating and breaking the law, then you have to step back and almost management needs to take over.
Further on from the support area is awareness and communication.
I've got a firm belief that people only know what they know, unless you tell them what you want them to know.
What I mean by that is, if you don't tell individuals within your workforce, what it is you need them to know in terms of the management system, in terms of expectations, and we're not talking about communication on the ISO standards, we’re talking about communication on the requirements that's appropriate to them. If you don't do that, often people either bring in information that they got from a previous location, or they come up with whatever they think it is, or get it from bits and pieces from colleagues. So, it's important within the support area that you recognise that you have to have the control over these individuals and information that you share to them, and it's important that they recognise their contribution.