Integrated risk management for effective decisions

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In our first blog following the Helios seminar on Integrated Risk Management (IRM), my colleague Claire Blejean wrote about the wide-ranging views on the subject and what it means to the aviation industry. She focused on "why" the aviation industry might implement IRM in the first place and found some common ground in that the main purpose of IRM is to support effective decision making, so that the risks can be efficiently and adequately accounted for.

For this second blog of the IRM series, I want to look at "how" to do IRM and in particular the KPIs and methodologies to put in place.

Towards a 'balanced viewpoint'

Modelling IRM can be difficult. We are currently improving on a methodology to identify a 'balanced' view of integrated risk to define an organisation's performance based on:

1. safety risk and its underlying human, technical and environmental controls;
2. security risk and its underlying focus on software, technology and data points.

But what about the commercial decisions? The other important factor is to link the relevant safety and security indicators to the commercial drivers associated with cost, and its underlying capacity and environmental drivers, to inform a balanced viewpoint.

For example, an organisation may be considering where emerging technology and aircraft performance characteristics allow for capacity adjustments. These adjustments will need to be weighed against environmental and political factors, such as avoiding urban, military and protected areas. Balanced with this are safety implications in pushing boundaries closer and a higher reliance on technical and human conformance monitoring. This integrated approach will help the organisation to determine the outlying initial cost (e.g. to ensure appropriate safety and security measures), but offset this with the reduced long-term cost associated with reduced delays and efficient services.

Easier said than done? Of course! There needs to be a focus on:

• Current performance through lagging performance indicators (or Targets or Key Performance Indicators) in the areas of safety, security and commercial risk;
• Linking in ongoing performance improvements in these areas by using leading indicators to understand the humans' abilities to adapt to situations, the technology's performance and therefore where the strong and weak points are from a safety, security and commercial perspective;
• Continuously observing these indicators to understand the knock-on effect due to any adjustment in the service.

In order to define the business in terms of safety, security, capacity, environment and cost, such indicators will need to be measurable and/or observable in terms of working methods, quality, competences, traffic levels and movements, workload and situation awareness in the operations room. These observations/measures can then be reflected through procedures, policy, organisational structure, training, airspace design, technical performance/function and data quality. This will therefore drive where the organisation needs to focus at different levels to understand and improve its performance and identify where to invest further. It can be a complex and evolving process, but we are making real progress with improving methodologies.

For our next IRM blog instalment, the baton passes to Matt Shreeve, who will write about the practicalities (or impracticalities) of interfacing safety and security risk – and what can be done about it.


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Glen Smith
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