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We recently held a webinar, Implementing a Digital Contractor Management System: A Panel Discussion with Customers, led by Global Enterprise Account Manager with VelocityEHS, Karl Ryan, to share how easy it can be to move from a paper-based contractor management system to a digital one, especially with the right software.   

Joining in the discussion were two VelocityEHS customers— Andrew Hepworth, an EHS Manager with Liverpool John Lennon Airport, and Jim Curley, EHS Manager with Medtronic, a medical device company. They shared their experiences moving from a manual contractor management and permit to work system to a digital one, specifically, the simplicity and ease that they experience with VelocityEHS Control of Work.  

The following discussion has been abridged and edited for readership, but you can access the full recorded session anytime to listen to the entire conversation.  

Question 1: What contractor types & greatest risks do you encounter? 

  • Hepworth: “Being [such a large] airport, there are many different types of jobs going on across the site. We have many different types of contractors – from civil contractors who work on the runways, to someone coming onsite to fix a refrigerator. It’s about knowing who’s on site, what [they’re] doing and why [they’re] doing it…We want to make sure that anything we do, we do in a safe manner.”  

Ryan commented after Hepworth’s response that another benefit that the John Lennon airport has with a digital contractor management system is that they can see where the hazardous jobs are being done. If a painter came in to repaint a wall, they would need to know if there’s a hazardous job being done nearby and what type it is to properly protect themselves.  

  • Curley: “We also have a variety of jobs, from filling a vending machine to constructing a new building. Some parts of our building are also quite old, and there are specific risks associated with that. For example, there is still asbestos in some parts of the building, and [we] need to warn people about it…you’re able to highlight particular areas for those particular hazards [in the system].” 

Question 2: Before digital, how did you manage your contractor journey? What were the main barriers? 

  • Hepworth: “We used to use a Microsoft Outlook calendar. We had a risk assessment and a statement in there, but that was it. It was a very basic system, and we just didn’t have visibility of what was going on onsite, which meant that we didn’t have the level of safety that we wanted as well.” 
  • Curley: “Before going digital, our process was quite labor-intensive, because you were tracking vendors on different spreadsheets, checking their compliance, their training. It was very cumbersome and challenging. On top of that, [we had] site inductions, which were done manually as well. Employees spent their day doing inductions, tracking contractors down and then completing the permits manually after that. Moving to a digital system, it all becomes much sleeker.”  

Question 3: Leverage Point – What made your ultimate decision to make the switch to a digital system? 

  • Hepworth: “It was a resource that we needed. After the demo, we dove right in with Permit to Work. We rolled it out gradually, after we saw how flexible and easy it was to migrate it into what we wanted as a company, but it was an overnight decision to go with a digital system.”  

Question 4: Evaluation – What features and capabilities should organizations look for, and why did you choose VelocityEHS? 

  • Hepworth: “Evaluate your organization and identify what strengths you need that the permit system will give you, what opportunities it might bring, and see where your weaknesses are to see how the system can help you. The flexibility of the system showed us that we can tailor it to our specific needs. If we want to add a box that requires certain documentation, we can do that. If we want to add additional questions to a document, it’s no problem.”  
  • “We saw that flexibility work, especially, with the onset of COVID. We had to entirely change the way we worked to incorporate the COVID risk assessments and safety regulations, and to make it easy for our contractors to understand. As time goes on, the system will continue to change with us.”  

Question 6: Takeaway – What immediate advice do you have for today’s audience that they can start using today, to lead them to long-term success? 

  • Hepworth: “My advice is that they should reach out to you, Karl. At the end of the day, we have a level of control with our contractors that helps us operate safely. For those of you who are watching this, you should definitely go and ask for a demo. Having the demo at the end of the presentation we got, and the opportunity to ask questions—you all would be immediately impressed as well.”  
  • Curley: “My key takeaway is that you have to have some type of a base system (paper, excel, etc.) to work from, so that from there you can build and integrate. Having that kind of foundation of information can show you what you need out of a digital system.” 

We highly suggest checking out this conversation for yourself and looking through our other contractor management and control of work resources, like the Burdens of Permit to Work or the Applying a Systematic Approach to Contractor Management infographics. It’s important to understand the limitations of your current contractor management system. That way, you’ll know what you need in a digital system and the benefits you want to see from it, like improved security, efficiency and visibility.

Not only does VelocityEHS Control of Work include digital contractor management and permit to work, but also a dedicated, responsive support team to help you implement, organize, and customize your control of work system. 

If you’re ready to know more now, reach out to us for a demo and see what Andrew Hepworth was raving about.