'Employ clever people, doing clever things'
In 2013, fire risk assessments were becoming a real drag. I was tired of chasing our assessors to complete their write ups; I hated nagging them; they hated me nagging them, and they were sick of typing up reports.
Fire risk assessors are first and foremost fire risk assessors – not typists!
Attending site, taking notes and sitting in front of MS Word filling out a form seemed old fashioned, difficult to audit and just very, very inefficient. I felt that there had to be a better way.
We initially tried turning pdfs into e-forms with drop down menus and text boxes. This did work, but a document designed to be printed and read does not really provide the best working platform to input data. You need to keep zooming in and out, it is a two-handed operation, not much better than taking notes and writing up later. It is also difficult to reliably and automatically scrape the data off a pdf. And it really is the data that matters, not the document. At this point we realised that we had built the workflow the wrong way round.
So, in 2014, we went back to the drawing board. There were many solutions on the market which allowed us to work in a smarter manner, but none really met our full requirement, so we decided to create our own software. We thought: “How hard can it be?”
Version 1.0 of our software proved the concept and showed the potential of an App-based mobile method of working. The only issue was, it did not really have the flexibility or resilience required to manage large teams of fire risk assessors using a very broad range on devices across current and legacy versions of iOS and Android. It was a great tool. It had its limitations, but it set us on our way.
In 2015, we were successful in winning a large, high-volume fire risk assessment contract. We were measured by stringent contract KPIs and we would have to nearly treble our fire risk assessment team, or continue to invest in refining our smarter way of working.
We realised that it was not just about creating and delivering documents in multiple PAS 79 variants. The real challenge was how to manage the remedial works programme in a targeted, risk focused manner. For example, if we had to put up a sign in every site we went to, without a fully integrated risk management system, it would have taken us more time to work out what signs needed to go where, than it would actually put them up.
In short, it is not about the risk assessment it is about the data enclosed within it, but it is also nice to have a pretty document.
From our trial and error using pdfs as e-forms and our initial foray into software development, it became clear to us that to create a PAS 79 Fire Risk Assessment, designed to be completed in the field, with no post-survey write up, there are three very separate and distinct processes that you have to get right:
- Mobile Apps
- A solution that works on any Android or iOS device in areas of no connectivity
- Data can be easily inputted with thumbs only – with one hand (this is important if you are outside in the winter in the cold!)
- Report Creation
- Generate beautifully formatted document that has a human feel to it
- Report carries branding relevant to project and client
- Automatic delivery to either client, assessor or management/audit team (depending on your workflow)
- Manage workflow in an auditable environment
- SP 205 friendly
- Dashboard risk over multiple sites
- Manage integration with other management systems.
Our lessons had been learned, we completed all the remedial items on our Software Action Plan and as we entered 2019, in strolls Version 4.9, a system that is modular and scalable.
Simple data collection including photos, videos and talk-to-text, a system that generates beautifully formatted PAS 79 Fire Risk Assessments (sorry I am a geek) with the output emailed straight to the clients inbox, easily saving 40 per cent on the write-up time.
Coupled with this new swanky piece of software, Allsaved-Console can manage multiple teams of fire risk assessors with varying competency levels, matched to jobs that meet their skill set. We can deliver data analysis across large estates of buildings numbering many thousands, providing targeted risk management to all stakeholders. This drives intelligent, targeted spend to best mitigate risk.
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