Saturday, February 23, 2013

3 Easy Ways to Include Vendors in Safety Management Systems

Vendor Management in Early Stages of Aviation SMS Implementation

integrated aviation safety management softwareYou have been working hard to implement your aviation safety management system. In most cases, the focus concentrates on changing the culture of your organization. Increasing hazard reporting, risk management, internal auditing, etc. All too often, safety managers focus only on internal stakeholders during the early phases of their aviation SMS implementation. Vendors, suppliers, contractors and airport tenants are typically left out while the airline or airport grapples with the aviation SMS regulatory requirements.

During the latter stages of aviation SMS implementation, these operators include their vendors as an afterthought. These late additions help to minimize the risk associated with interacting with personnel outside the direct control of the airline or airport. When you think about it, the risk has always been there and you should not neglect vendor management in the early stages of your SMS implementation.

How to Include Vendors in Your Aviation SMS Program

airline airport risk management software system So how do you include vendors in your aviation SMS implementation during the early stages? Here are some ideas and recommendations. Users of SMS Pro's Web based aviation safety management software will realize these ideas are very easy to implement and manage.

1) List all vendors, suppliers, contractors and tenants (if applicable) in the Vendor Management module.

Placing all your vendors in the Vendor Management module allows safety managers the ability to classify reported issues correctly when vendors, contractors or tenants are involved. It is much easier to collect this data early on than wait two years when the dust settles and you begin to focus on your vendors.

2) Send vendors, suppliers and tenants the email address used to report issues

Most SMS Pro users have configured email addresses in SMS Pro that allow external stakeholders to submit issues to their risk management reporting framework. Most companies only use one email address per division to capture safety issues; however, SMS Pro allows up to five separate email addresses to be configured:
    integrated aviation sms software program
  • Safety;
  • Security;
  • Quality;
  • Compliance; and
  • Environmental.
These email addresses correspond to the types of issues managed within the SMS Pro risk management framework. When email reports come in, they can be directed to specific managers within the company that deal with the corresponding subjects.

3) Provide vendors, suppliers and tenants the Public Issue Reporting URL to your Web based safety reporting system

All your vendors, suppliers and tenants should be encouraged to report safety issues to you in a timely manner. Email issue reporting remains the most convenient way for vendors to submit issues. This method is described in #2 above. There may be times when an email report doesn't capture enough required information. In these cases, companies will encourage vendors to submit issues using the Web based hazard reporting tools.

SMS Pro's Public Issue Reporting module is very similar to the regular issue reporting module used by employees when they log into the integrated aviation safety management software system. Vendors can then use your customized and pre-defined hazard reporting forms.


Vendors are easily overlooked when implementing your aviation safety management system. The three steps outlined above do not require much time to implement and will provide you immediate benefits.

If you are not using the Vendor Management Module, and would like more information, see these resources:
Vendor Management Module in SMS Pro
Vendor Message Acknowledgement in SMS Pro

Aviation Safety Management Software

About NWDS - founded in 2003 by six software engineers, NorthWest Data Solutions (NWDS) provides custom computer programming and systems design services. NWDS creates many types of software, including e-commerce, financial, defense, engineering, logistics, aviation and more. In 2007, NWDS developed SMS Pro™ a web based SMS application that supports an organization's overall SMS through safety reporting, safety documentation, safety risk management and safety assurance. SMS Pro™ is currently used by aviation organizations in the U.S., Canada, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East to help manage their SMS programs. NWDS continues to support SMS Pro™ and add new functionality. NWDS offers custom contract programming services in the U.S. and Canada and is managed by Chris Howell, one of the founders. Their headquarters is in Anchorage, Alaska. For information on NWDS visit their website at and to learn more about SMS Pro™.

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