As the year comes to an end, it’s time to look back, reflect and learn. This practice can unlock personal growth as well as help you build better business processes, including alarm management. As an alarm management professional, you’re no stranger to the fact that aiming for continuous improvement and optimization can mitigate risks and enhance compliance. Performing an alarm management self-audit is a great way to review the previous year and prepare for the new year.
Learning from last year
The first part of your self-audit should be a look back. Assess your overall alarm management performance and identify areas that need attention.
Back to basics
Now is a good time to review your core documents to keep your alarm philosophy and rationalization practices fresh in your mind. You should review things like alarm limits and the alarm management standard you have decided to implement, then catch up on any relevant industry-specific compliance requirements, such as FDA guidelines for the food industry. You should also go back to any organization-wide or alarm management plan you had for last year.
Identify what you did well
One of the benefits of performing a self-audit is to identify what you need to improve, but it’s just as important to acknowledge what you did well so you can replicate that success.
Find areas for improvement
Compare your performance for the year to the KPIs and goals you set in your initial plan. Were there events that took you by surprise, deadlines you had to push back or areas where you fell short of expectations? Some areas to focus on include alarm floods, operator performance and discrepancies in rationalization data.
Understand where time and resources go
Reviewing operator workload and performance can give you an idea of where you spend the most time and resources. Time-consuming activities can be good candidates for automation. Reviewing alarm data can also help you identify recurring nuisance alarms that could be eliminated to streamline alarm management further.
Learn from the past year
Alarm management is a process that improves over time, but you need to take a purposeful approach and schedule regular performance reviews to identify strategies for constant improvement. Whether it’s updating your operator training material, changing your rationalization workflow, or improving the data you collect, it’s important to find concrete solutions to apply the lessons you’ve learned.
Take an in-depth look at missed goals
Once you’ve identified the things you could have done better, you should gather as much data as possible about these instances to analyze what went wrong.
It’s important to pinpoint the root causes so you can address the problem, whether it’s a lack of resources, a bug in your decision-making process or goals that weren’t realistic.
Preparing for the new year
Once you’ve completed the first part of your alarm management self-audit, you can use your findings to plan for the new year.
A self-audit gives you knowledge of where your alarm management system failed recently and improves visibility of the circumstances that threatened performance.
You should assume you’ll run into these situations again and take action to be better prepared by implementing relevant solutions. Examples include updating your alarm philosophy documents, performing alarm rationalization exercises, scheduling alarm testing and planning future audits.
Adopting new goals
The findings from your self-audit can be valuable for adopting primary objectives and secondary goals and useful for establishing a wish list for the new year.
Remember to adopt a strategic approach when setting goals. You have to be realistic, establish a timeline and prioritize the goals that address immediate safety or compliance issues.
Recognizing your top challenges
An alarm management self-audit can improve the visibility of recurring challenges and help you identify early indicators that a challenge is coming up. However, you also need to consider external and internal factors that could be different. For example, there could be regulatory changes in your industry or significant changes coming to your organization. Knowing your top challenges for the new year gives you an advantage in identifying and implementing solutions early.
Growth stems from change. You can’t achieve constant improvement and optimization for your alarm management system unless you embrace change.
Changes can be small, such as updating your alarm response procedure or rethinking alarm priority to prevent issues like alarm flood. You might also need to implement more drastic changes to address serious performance issues, such as adopting a new alarm management interface or updating your SCADA architecture.
Assess who will be affected by these changes, what kind of timeline you can work with and the outcome you want to achieve. Get your alarm management team on board early by discussing any upcoming changes now.
After an alarm management self-audit, plan for the new year with TiPS
TiPS offers a suite of alarm management products that put monitoring, analysis and reporting capabilities in your hands. From helping operators navigate alarm management information to streamlining alarm philosophy documentation development, we can support you as you embrace change, address existing issues and optimize alarm management.
Schedule a demo now to see how our products can help you build a safer and higher-performing alarm management process in 2022!