This interesting blog comes from Chris Allcard of Reliance Protect one of our key exhibitors and supporters at the Lone worker Safety Expo 2018. It sets out clearly some of the considerations for organisations when exploring the use of technology based solutions for lone workers and explains the value of setting up an initial trial before committing your finances and resources.
When considering the adoption of a technology based lone worker solution for staff, it should always be part of the wider organisation’s approach to lone working strategy, and not considered in isolation. Technology based lone working safety solutions should always fit into the wider lone worker safety strategy and management systems.
Once the need for a technology based solution has been identified, what’s the next steps?
- Online searches to identify potential solutions?
- Seek advice and recommendations from your network of contacts?
- Enquire with potential suppliers?
- Get potential suppliers in to present their solutions and pricing and evaluate against your requirements?
- Run a structured procurement exercise?
Often a combination or all of the above. Maybe you have a current solution in place and are wanting to reassess it’s suitability and what other potential solutions are available.
Then, who should be involved in the process and through what mechanisms? Typical examples of engagement include sending out staff questionnaires, seeking feedback informally through team meetings via managers, discussing in internal health and safety forums, wide representative attendance at potential supplier presentations. Depending on the size and scale of the project one of the most successful methods we typically see is when organisations create a focussed project team with representatives from all stakeholder areas such as potential users, managers of potential users, health and safety/security, procurement.
The Benefits of Conducting Trials
There are some real benefits organisations can gain from conducting trials, some of which are not that obvious.
Firstly, there is a large variety of solutions available. Do you know what best suits your needs? Trialling a solution enables an organisation to test and assess all of it’s integral parts. Organisations often focus on the device or smartphone applications available (which are important!) but what about the alarm handling and escalation, what about the levels of supplier customer support and contract management information that is generated? At Reliance Protect we offer a range of proactive Monitoring services that can be tailored for different applications and end user risk profiles.
Trials of such solutions often help organisations assesses their strengths and weaknesses in relation to their current lone working policies and procedures. Are existing lone worker policies and procedures up to date, and do staff adopt them? An area that is often highlighted as part of a trial relates to mobile staff day to day whereabouts. Do managers and team leaders know where mobile, remote staff are any time? Is this information available to access (such as shared diaries, visit boards, buddy systems)? Indeed, this may have already been flagged as an area of weakness and a requirement for a potential lone worker solution.
Getting staff involved in the selection process through a trial can be hugely valuable. They will be the users of the solution. Engaging them in the procurement process will only help deliver the best fit solution and successful subsequent implementation and adoption. They will have views and provide insights crucial to the selection process on fitness for purpose.
From a supplier perspective, it gives us the opportunity to better understand the client needs – staff risks, working environments, etc and the general culture and approach to lone worker safety and health and safety. We may learn things that enables us to better align and develop our offerings to ensure we provide maximum value and support, meeting your requirements both now and moving forwards.
What Should You Look For From The Supplier?
We would suggest you should look for a knowledgeable and experienced supplier with a well-defined and managed process covering the pre/during/post trial stages. At Reliance Protect we take a proactive approach in providing advice and assistance around:
- Selecting representative users and teams
- The devices/smartphone app/features and functions to trial e.g. impact/non-movement detectors required for any/all staff?
- Length of trial
- Set up of escalation contacts
- Trial objectives – what to set, how to measure, process to review success against the objectives set
- Project management of the trial
What Should Be Assessed?
We recommend trials should be assessed from both the end-user perspective and their manager/contract manager/central health and safety perspective.
- Are the devices/smartphone apps/features/functions fit for purpose – ease of day to day use, reliability and confidence?
- Quality of delivery. How did the supplier perform in terms of training, customer support, project management, quality and timeliness of management information, proactive or reactive approach?
As A Supplier, What Do We Look For From Clients?
Delivering a successful trial is clearly a partnership. We look at a client’s commitment to trial thoroughly, starting with setting objectives – what does the client want to get from the trial, how will this be measured, and how will it be reviewed, and conclusions drawn? Allocating appropriate resource with the appropriate level of focus and priority applied at the outset is a key indicator.
The trial process can often be overlooked or approached as a task to conduct with minimal effort, focus and priority. It does require resource and time, and can push out timescales in the decision making process. However, it can be a hugely valuable step in the selection process helping deliver a fit for purpose solution that is quickly adopted by staff (users and managers alike), sat within a more robust lone worker safety system, delivered by a supplier you have a high degree of confidence in.
The Reliance Protect Team will be attending at the conference and exhibition on the 2nd October. It is an ideal opportunity to come along and chat to them about setting up a trial of one of their solutions.