Features of the Best Incident Management Systems
Incident management is a critical part of every company. Without an adequate response, an incident can become a major emergency or ongoing problem, and in extreme cases, the business itself may be threatened.
According to the NFPA 1561 standard, an incident management system assigns roles and responsibilities to respondents, while defining the standard operating procedures to address incidents.
While this may seem like a cut and dry definition, it doesn’t do a great job communicating the main goal of an incident response, which is to get as much information about a workplace incident as possible, analyze the root cause, communicate the data to the right people and then create a plan for the future to ensure the same incident is less likely to happen if not completely prevented.
Incident response is a process that must be managed precisely and efficiently; software can automate many tasks, while collaborators focus on solving the issue. For example, document formats and workflows may distract respondents, but they can be automated with software. Safety service providers gain additional benefits from incident management software; they can use it for their incidents as an added value service for clients.
This article will discuss some of the important features you should look for in incident management software.
Feature #1: Digital Forms
Digital forms have many advantages over physical documents. They allow text inputs like a printed form, and they can also include pictures and videos taken on site. These forms can be shared in an instant, while printed forms must be delivered physically or digitized first. Digital forms protect information as input data can be stored without intermediate steps. Site personnel can fill digital forms partially, save them to focus on another task, and complete them later. Physical forms can be lost or damaged while they are carried around. Digital documents provide a safety benefit during the COVID-19 outbreak since collaborators can share information without touching the same physical documents. During an incident, plenty of data is captured in real-time and impossible to retrieve later. When this information is registered in a printed form, it can be lost permanently. However, a digital form can be stored in a cloud database and information is secured immediately.
Feature #2: Automated Workflows
A workflow is created when a sequence of tasks moves information between persons or systems. When a workflow is present, everyone involved must ensure that information moves in the right direction. Otherwise, time and resources may be wasted. In the case of incident management, inefficiency reduces the ability to respond. However, the software can automate workflows, while collaborators simply provide the requested information. Incident management software can be configured to send information where it is needed, in every step of the process. The response time saved with workflow automation is critical in business sectors like construction, mining, or health and safety. Information is provided automatically to everyone who needs it, allowing quicker and better decisions.
Feature #3 Mobile Accessibility
Mobile accessibility complements the use of digital forms since information can be managed without specialized devices. This is a major advantage when responding to an incident as everyone with a smartphone or tablet can share information. By using downloadable digital forms, companies can ensure that information is collected even without network coverage. Site personnel can register data in downloaded forms, which are uploaded as soon as the mobile network is available. Some systems have a corresponding mobile app where you can create workflows so the moment a worker finishes filling out their section of an incident report it will be sent to the next worker or supervisor in the workflow. All information related to the incident is stored in one place allowing supervisors and safety managers to review all data related to each incident and make more informed response plans to prevent future incidents.
Feature #4: Notifications
Gathering information efficiently is important for incident management. However, data is only useful when seen by decision-makers. A notification system is important in incident management software since it ensures that important information is seen quickly. An incident requires attention from staff members such as managers and safety personnel. However, their normal responsibilities do not stop during incidents. A notification system gets their attention when needed, and they can focus on other tasks for the rest of the time. When working with documents that have a due date, notifications are useful for meeting deadlines. Collaborators can get regular reminders of when specific information will be needed, and they can plan accordingly.
Feature #5: Reporting
Report preparation consumes plenty of time, which is not an abundant resource when responding to an incident. For this reason, automatic reporting is a very useful function for incident management software. Data can be processed into a useful format while it is gathered, and reports can be presented to managers without extra work. Automatic reports provide insights that are not evident with raw data. For example, reports can display safety performance across different areas of a company. They can also highlight problem areas in terms of incidents, allowing a more effective response.
Incident management software allows a more efficient response to disruptive events. However, the software must have the right features to be useful. Digital forms and mobile accessibility are two features that work well together as everyone involved can collect or access data. Workflow automation and notification systems ensure that data is sent to the right persons and viewed quickly. This feature is complemented with automatic reporting functions, which display information in a useful format for each decision-maker. When incident management software lacks these features, the incident response involves additional steps and repetitive tasks. This increases the risk for the organization since incidents have time to develop into more serious problems. Including an incident management system into your company will help to maximize efficiency and keep employees safe.