Before joining the dynamic team of Ideagen PLC, I worked within the Rail industry in the Metro as the Lead Assessor. I was responsible for leading a team of assessors and verifiers who ensured that all staff had the appropriate qualifications and competencies to carry out their roles safely. This was to ensure the safety of staff and all customers using the metro service.
The Competency Management System that we used was based on an extensive Job Safety Analysis (JSA) which identified the business processes and broke them down into tasks that were required to be carried out by staff. From this we could see what competencies were required for each task, to define each ‘competence’, we used a framework of SEKA – Skills, Experience, Knowledge and Attitude.
With more than 500 station staff from over 50 different stations each having different layouts and equipment, there was many different competency standards. My team would have to assess individuals regularly before signing off and issuing a Certificate of Competency to ensure staff were always fully capable and able to carry out tasks safely. While passengers enjoy the availability and efficiency of the system, our team is working hard in the background to ensure that everyone is deemed competent in their roles and contribute to the overall safety and compliance of the system.
The Competency Management system we had was a manual, paper-bases system held in hard bound folders within each station. This left us with a number of challenges such as keeping track of renewal dates, staff moving stations temporarily and shift patterns changing. Another major difficulty we had with using a manual system was during unannounced inspections and external audits occurred. It was difficult and very time consuming to find any individual’s competency record for an inspector or auditor in. With no reminders or automatic notifications, we often found that competencies had expired without anyone being aware. There was also a high error rate in the records as they were being accessed and updated by a number of individuals with no centralised control. All of these challenges and difficulties lead to safety, health, reputational and financial breaches, as well as legal implications.
This method of working could be considered inefficient. It was very time consuming for my team to keep track of staff competencies, when training and assessments were needing renewed or had become expired and to demonstrate competencies to auditors and inspectors. It also took up a huge amount of storage space in the stations which in turn caused health and safety hazards.
I then moved from a paper-bases system to an excel spreadsheet which allowed us to have a master file that everyone could work from. However only one person could go in and edit the file at any one time.
We looked at the challenges on an operational level, however the bigger picture was that if any of the staff competencies were out of date they are putting themselves, the passengers, the business at risk and could lead to serious repercussions.
A centralised, automated, electronic Quality Management System with Competence Management processes would help heavily regulated organisations like this to demonstrate staff competency and training by making it easy to maintain records, track changes and give full visibility of training and competency records at any given time. It also reduces the eﬀort and time spend organising training, assessments and renewal of certificates. A QMS provides organisations with a centralised register of training and competency history of all employees, making it quick and simple to access during inspections or audits.
If you work in a heavily regulated industry and struggle to manage or gain visibility of your staff training and competencies, get in touch and find out how Ideagen’s Solutions can help.