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How to Use Shortfall Analysis to Identify SMS Program Failures

Posted by Tyler Britton on Feb 15, 2017 6:07:00 AM

What is SMS Shortfall Analysis?

SMS Shortfall Analysis Despite the fact that many risk management tools provide great insights into how and why safety incidents occur; there have been no dedicated tools for answering the following question:

This is an important question in any safety incident – perhaps even the important question. SMS Shortfall Analysis is designed to clarify two different things. First, where did the SMS program fail in terms of:

  1. Risk control measures;
  2. Human action; and
  3. Safety policies and procedures.

Second, was the failure the result of:

SMS Shortfall Analysis DiagramsThe outcome of performing this analysis is a chart which visually identifies the extent and makeup of the failure, as well as a table that specifically identifies the different failures.

It is called SMS Shortfall Analysis because this it is a discovery tool for understanding the shortcomings (i.e., shortfalls) of your SMS program.

Goals of SMS Shortfall Analysis

When we are talking about the goals of SMS Shortfall Analysis, we are answering the question: what are the desired outcomes of performing this analysis? There are two types of goals for this:

  • SMS Shortfall Analysis methodology; and
  • Performing SMS Shortfall Analysis on safety incidents.

The goals of the methodology are as follows:

  • Easy to understand;
  • Extremely quick to perform;
  • Provide visual cue to general failures – i.e., an “exposure summary”;
  • Identify specific enough failures upon which to make decisions; and
  • Quantify the failure for data analysis.

The goals of performing SMS Shortfall Analysis on safety incidents are:

  • Understand how the SMS program failed in the safety incident;
  • Understand the types of failures in the safety incident;
  • Establish how the situation deteriorated (flow of events); and
  • Identify which CPAs will be needed to fix exposure.

How SMS Shortfall Analysis is Unique

SMS Shortfall Analysis is a totally unique risk management tool for several subtle but extremely important reasons. Other risk management tools are what we might call “niche tools,” as they are dedicated to specific aspects of SMS shortcomings:

All of these approaches provide valuable visual cues for their respective interests, and they paint a solid picture for “what happened.” However, what they above approaches either only suggest, partially address, or don’t address at all, is:

  • Where did the SMS program fail?

SMS Shortfall Analysis is designed to address this question specifically, and provide explicit answers. Moreover, while some analysis, like bowtie analysis, provide an in depth look at many aspects of the safety event, they:

  • Can be hard to understand;
  • Can be very time consuming; and
  • Provide a broad picture of what went wrong, but don’t specifically point out the major SMS failures.

Shortfall analysis is unique in that it:

  • Provides solid, valuable answers, that can be used to make decisions with;
  • Offers an exposure summary; but
  • Is much faster and significantly easier to perform than all above methods (except risk matrix).

How to Use SMS Shortfall Analysis

SMS Shortfall Analysis is very easy to understand. The workflow is simple, and steps are clear. For a full walk through on:

  • how to perform SMS Shortfall Analysis,
  • examples of SMS Shortfall Analysis,
  • situations to use SMS Shortfall Analysis, and
  • blank SMS Shortfall Analysis templates-

-please refer to the following free ebook:

Shortfall Analysis Identify SMS Failures

If you have any further questions, we are happy to answer; we also appreciate praise and critical feedback, so contact us for further discussion.


Topics: 2-Safety Risk Management


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