Control of Work: why software is only 20% of success

Implementing or replacing a Control of Work system can be a daunting task.  The project normally begins with an internal team outlining requirements and evaluating available options.  There is a lot to consider – the efficiency, the cost, the timescale, whether the new software integrates with existing business programmes and if it has a user-friendly, intuitive interface. While these are extremely important questions to answer, there is more to a Control of Work project than meets the eye. Very often, companies fall into the trap of choosing ‘the best piece of software’.

Choosing the best software, although essential, is not the key objective of the project.  The objective of a Control of Work project is to embed a safe system of work that reduces Control of Work risk and increases efficiency; ultimately creating a safer working environment.

This objective demands a holistic approach to Control of Work and requires careful planning of each of the critical areas of an integrated safe system of work project:

  • Consultancy and the outlining of requirements of a Control of Work system are the very first steps that no company should skip.  Yet due to time pressures and the desire to act fast, this stage is often rushed.  The oil and gas industry offers a significant amount of expertise and best practice in Control of Work systems. Why not involve external consultants to work with the internal Control of Work team and capitalise on their knowledge and objective advice?
  • Control of Work Training is an area where many companies feel confident and don’t foresee any difficulties.  However, training in the key principles of Control of Work remains the pivotal part of ensuring the ever-changing multinational workforce is safe.  When planning training programmes it is important to remember that training in the use of software (how to press the buttons) is quick and easy, but training in Control of Work disciplines (why I need to press the buttons) is crucial and cannot be treated as a box ticking exercise.
  • Deployment and delivery should be straightforward, provided that companies don’t underestimate the time and resources required. It is worth thinking about the additional support that your workforce might require during this challenging time. Experience shows that working with dedicated coaches (external or internal) who support your employees during this stage makes a big difference.
  • Management of Change is very often not just a stage, but an on-going task that has to be monitored indefinitely.  Involving external specialists that work in conjunction with an internal team on the management of change plan could significantly improve the acceptance of the system by your workforce. Being creative, patient and ready to act on feedback from the workforce helps embed the system within the business.

A Control of Work project involves a lot of planning and resources, but when implemented properly can become an integral part of your organisation and make the working environment safer.  Achieving this vision is a joint effort of your organisation and your Control of Work supplier – make sure you have the best partner.