Who Are You Showing Effectiveness of SMS To
Proving the effectiveness of your aviation safety management system comes in several flavors. Who are you proving the effectiveness to? You might be showing your SMS effectiveness at managing safety to:
- Executive management; or
To whom you are trying to demonstrate effectiveness changes how you show the effectiveness of your safety program. For example:
- Auditors are likely most interested in how compliant your organization is and compliance progress;
- Investors may want to see that you are controlling risks (that can be very costly if not managed!);
- Executive management may want to see that core company safety goals are being reached; and
- Customers are probably most concerned with current/historical safety record.
All this being said, different stakeholders are probably interested in seeing many types of effectiveness, but there’s no denying that different stakeholders may be most interested in the part of the SMS where they have the most stake.
Here is a further exploration in how to prove the effectiveness of your aviation safety management system.
Show Compliance and Compliance Progress (Compliant)
Auditors or other stakeholders will want to see how compliant you are. There are several ways to show company-level compliance:
- History of audit results (ideally, decreasing audit findings each time);
- Gap analysis results over time;
- Proof of internal investigations/audits; or
- SMS manual.
Though these documents, you can either:
- Show high levels of compliance; or
- Show that your organization is dedicated to meeting compliance.
Of course, to do this your organization needs to actually:
- Perform gap analysis and internal audits/investigations;
- Document those results; and
- Develop an SMS manual.
Show Evidence of the Effectiveness of Risk Controls (Controlling Risk)
Showing the effectiveness of risk controls in aviation safety management is something that nearly all stakeholders will probably be interested in. Controlling risk is the baseline purpose of SMS. How do you show the effectiveness of risk controls?
- Monitor how often a risk control is associated with safety reports;
- Document consistent reviews of risk controls; and
- Display history of risk assessments – demonstrating higher number of lower assessments over time is good!
If you can show that risk is systematically decreasing over time, then you can demonstrate the effectiveness of your risk controls. There may be additional ways to show this in your particular safety management system.
Show Key Performance Indicator Performance (Reaching Goals)
Your key performance indicator (KPI/SPI) performance demonstrates how well you are reaching current safety objectives. One of executive management's top priorities are to ensure that the company mission, goals, and objectives are being reached.
KPIs reflect quantitative metrics and markers for your current objectives. For example:
- Goal: Develop hazard reporting culture
- Objective: Increase hazard reporting culture by 10% over previous year
- KPI: (Hazard reports this year) / (hazard reports last year) - 1.0
In this example, your KPI would show a percentage increase or decrease. So long as your KPI stays at .1 or more (10%), you are reaching that objective. Safety managers need ensure the program they are managing are reaching safety performance indicators.
When safety managers can demonstrate this to upper management, it shows they are doing their job well and that the SMS is successful.
Key Metrics Demonstrating Safety
Lastly, the one thing clients and customers care about most when flying with any time of aviation service provider, be they a back-country operator or city helicopter tour, they want proof that:
- Your services are safe now; and
- You have a great historical track record.
While there are countless metrics to show customers that your operations are safe, some to consider are:
- Number of historical customer injuries in your operations;
- Number of accidents in your operations;
- Budget for your safety program; or
- Audit performance.
Again, there are many other metrics and charts that you can show customers, some of which may be even better than these examples. You choose whichever metrics best demonstrate the safety of your operations.
Published November 2018. Last updated October 2020.
Interior view of an aircraft from Zantop airlines... by PICRYL