Driving Customer Outcomes with Data to Ensure Workplace Safety

Rachel Groococh, Principal Business Analyst, SafeWork NSW

SafeWork NSW is the NSW Government workplace health and safety regulator. At SafeWork, our focus is on harm prevention as well as improving the overall safety cultures in NSW workplaces. Our Roadmap for NSW 2022 sets out a six-year strategy targeting high risk industries, harms and vulnerable worker groups to prevent fatalities, serious injuries and illnesses.

SafeWork has around 500 staff – 300 of whom are front-line inspectors delivering services to about 780,000 workplaces and 4 million workers. It’s a lot to cover and as a regulator we have to work smart and hard to deliver important information across the state about managing risks as well as ensure safety practices and standards are maintained.

The challenge SafeWork faced was that its systems and reporting were very limited. Yes, there were hundreds of reports available – but they were compiled manually, provided limited insights and were often not well-utilized or trusted. We’ve been using Qlik Sense to transform that – to create a platform to align the business operationally, tactically and strategically – and always with the goal of keeping workers safe.

The importance of ‘managing by facts’

As part of making sure we are delivering our services well and in the right places, three years ago, I was brought onboard to research and commence a stock-take of business reporting activities, the data capture systems and business measures, with the aim of understanding what was required to drive and achieve an exemplar state. The review found over 700 reports, most of which were produced manually, incurring large labor costs and providing limited insights. Further, there were 26 data sources which needed to be consolidated, with timeliness and consistency of this data also a problem.

As can be expected, in the absence of good data, managers would base their decisions on ‘gut feel’, or from only having spoken to a few stakeholders. This management by ‘perception’ rather than ‘facts’ was impacting good business decision-making and outcomes.

The first step was to determine exactly what reporting was required by the regulator and then make it easier. We reached out to our industry leads nationally, and also looked at some international jurisdictions for examples of best practice. We then overlaid this against the stock-take to develop a plan of action.

We started off by ensuring we had a solid reporting framework and implemented a balanced scorecard at the operational level against critical areas of business performance. We focused on transforming and producing insights which would benefit our customers and strategic goals.

Steady progress from a simple start

When we looked under the hood, we found 26 different data sources that we needed to transform and produce insights from. When we approached our ICT department and asked them what it would take to develop the balanced scorecard, we were quoted “$1 million and 2 years”.

We shopped around and found Qlik. After a quick and smooth set-up, we rationalized our imperfect data sources down to 12 and in nine months, delivered a balanced scorecard at a cost of $340,000.

What proved most important during the process, was to develop this whilst always keeping the end user in mind. In phase 1, they needed simple visualizations and data sets. Once the basics were covered, then we could further develop the platform to provide more complex data and insights, such as capacity and forecasting, as well as portfolio project mapping and management. Despite the complexity in the background, we’ve been able to bring all this together with simple analytical visualizations and it’s all done with Qlik.

Solving the people puzzle

Through working with the business as well as providing regular engagement and support, we have achieved steady increases in user numbers month-on-month. We have also seen the rise of the ‘super user’. With some managers accessing Qlik for up to 40 hours a month. They are understanding the value of data and how it’s driving effective decision-making and service delivery.

We noted that different people use Qlik differently. Whilst middle management are onboard with the app solutions, our time poor Executives required a different approach. For them, the value and use of data is not in question – ease and time is! This is where we have taken advantage of Qlik’s NPrinting product to produce and automatically schedule dashboards that monitor and drive strategic conversations within SafeWork.
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