SMS Pro Aviation Safety Software Blog 4 Airlines & Airports

5 Easy Ways to Combine QMS and SMS in Aviation Operations

Posted by Tyler Britton on Mar 19, 2018 6:31:00 AM

Why Quality Management Is So Important for Safety

5 Easy Ways to Combine QMS and SMS in Aviation Operations

Quality management systems (QMS) are the big brother of safety management systems (SMS). They are often depicted as having conflicting interests.

Unfortunately, this is true in many organizations because the bottom line (money) is pushed more than safety.

QMS and SMS don’t have to be in conflict. In fact, if given the time and resources, they can integrate and significantly strengthen your organization’s:

Even without full integration, there are small ways to combine quality management systems and SMS. Here are 5 easy ways to combine QMS and SMS.

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1 - Automated Aviation Safety Training

In many organizations, formal aviation safety training is handled by a quality assurance department or an external company. In either case, your safety team would not have direct control over safety training.

The benefit of this is that the safety team/department can focus on managing safety issues. The downside is that this is a missed opportunity for safety promotion and integration of quality and safety management within the context of your aviation SMS.

However, even if your safety team is not directly in control of formal training, there’s no reason you can’t use safety promotion as an informal training tool. Automated aviation safety training fits this intention quite well. This includes safety training promotional tools like:

  • Safety training article library (safety training articles, videos, and other materials);
  • Initial SMS induction training (reviewing company SMS requirements);
  • Safety newsletters; and
  • Automated recurrent SMS training.

The items above usually require a small initial time investment to create but offer a nice integration of QMS and SMS.

An aviation training & qualifications software will provide this type of training management. Few low-cost, commercially available aviation SMS databases integrate training and qualifications tracking with their other SMS tools. The benefits are obvious, especially when you consider how many systems an aviation service provider must maintain. Reducing the support and maintenance of one more system is the benefit.

Related Aviation SMS Database Articles

2 - Security/Duty Logs

Airplane engine

In the operating environment of aviation safety programs, there will be many occurrences that should not be reported as safety issues. As an example, most programs have to report policy guidelines for what constitutes a "reportable concern." Nonetheless, some events should be logged but not necessarily managed as safety concerns. These types of issues may include:

  • Operational concerns;
  • Human resource issues;
  • Environmental issues; and
  • IT problems.

Security/duty logs are a great place to record such events. They can be classified, documented, and organized for further use. This ensures proper quality management of events that occur in your SMS.

Additionally, you can data mine these occurrences and look for trends with SMS occurrences. Where applicable you can report the duty logs as s safety concern, hence full integration between QMS and SMS.

3 - Lost and Found Documentation

Like duty logs, lost and found items generally do not fit reportable guidelines unless there is something suspicious about a particular item. Nearly every aviation service provider will have to deal with lost and found items.

Some organizations may simply have a drawer or box for the items. Other organizations may have a “log”.

Ideally, you will have a full spreadsheet or aviation software with a lost and found module that allows you to track:

  • Lost items;
  • Found items;
  • Not claimed items;
  • Contact information; and
  • A log of metadata about the item, including dates, notes, etc.

Having such a spreadsheet or lost and found software module offers top-notch quality and customer service. Also, it allows you to data mine lost and found items and identify trends. You may, for example, identify a trend in lost and found items that do present a potential safety issue.

In such a case, you could process the concern through your issue management process, hence full integration between QMS and SMS.

4 - Human Resources Management Software Integration

Human resources can have considerable bearing on the performance of your safety management system. The following can significantly reduce employee safety awareness and willingness to follow your SMS:

  • High turnover;
  • Dissatisfaction with company;
  • Dissatisfaction with management; and
  • Poor hiring practices.

Being able to attract and recruit highly qualified employees is especially important for the success of your SMS. Generally, human resources are managed completely outside of the scope of the SMS.

Having human resources management software integration with your SMS allows spectacular QMS and SMS integration because:

  • Safety management can review applicants;
  • Safety management can offer opinion about applicants; and
  • Safety management can ensure that employees have a proper outlet to discuss their concerns.

This can be done via spreadsheet or SMS software.

5 - Employee Safety Performance Monitoring

Airport worker

Usually, employees’ reviews include little or no information about employees’ safety performance. Instead, reviews focus exclusively on the QMS tasks of that employee.

This is a lost opportunity.

Including employees’ safety performance information in regular employee reviews is a great way to integrate QMS and SMS because:

  • Communicates that safety duty is as much a part of the job as any other duty;
  • Communicates that the SMS is not a “separate thing”, but is integral to operations;
  • Offers incentive for employee to participate in SMS; and
  • Promotes the value of the safety program.

Simply mix in safety data into regular quality management review processes to make this integration happen.

Final Thought: Should QMS and SMS Be Integrated

There are way too many benefits of fully integrating QMS and SMS, of which are:

Why don’t more safety programs do full integration? Several reasons:

  • Can require significant initial work to integrate;
  • Larger organizations often do not prefer integration; Or
  • Organization may suffer from the department “silos”.

Even if your organization suffers any of these points, you may very well be able to easily implement some ideas discussed in this article.

What grade would you give your aviation SMS? Take this 20-question quiz to find out.

SMS Quality Quiz

Last updated November 2023.

Topics: Quality-Safety Management

Site content provided by Northwest Data Solutions is meant for informational purposes only. Opinions presented here are not provided by any civil aviation authority or standards body.



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