Monday, February 18, 2013

Enhanced Gap Analysis Tool in SMS Pro

Enhanced Gap Analysis Tool in SMS Pro

Gap Analyses help airlines and airports uncover shortfalls in some process or characteristic. An aviation gap analysis is performed against a template or model, such as SMS Pro's aviation SMS models adapted from various SMS guidance documents published in Canada, The United Kingdom and The United States. At its core are two questions:
Airline Airport Gap Analysis Templates and Models
  1. Where are we?
  2. Where do we want to be?

What is a Gap Analysis and How Do I Perform It?

An aviation SMS gap analysis is often used to discover where to focus efforts on improvement. The gap analysis will compare characteristics of an organization's operations against an appropriate model. The aviation gap analysis highlights well-defined areas where requirements of the model are not fully realized at the airline or airport and suggests necessary changes.

Best Practices Realized From the Gap Analysis

Gap Analysis Models ensure best practices are followed for airlines and airports
Gap Analysis Models Ensure Best Practices
Best practices for implementing an aviation safety management system starts with conducting your gap analysis followed by creating a plan of action that the airline or airport will implement in the coming years. SMS Pro's implementation plan manager is a suitable tool in your aviation safety management software that allows managers outline a road map for successful SMS implementation. As noted, the gap analysis is commonly one of the first exercises performed when an airline or airport begins an SMS implementation project; however, this does not mean that the gap analysis should be a hurried task.

The gap analysis covers many areas of the operation. Rarely is one person the subject matter expert in all areas of the airline or airport, unless the operation is fairly small. Because of the extensive nature of the gap analysis questions, the gap analysis can be worked on as a team project. When shortcomings are noted, they should be fed into the airline or airports risk management framework where corrective actions are managed and tracked.

The gap analysis should not be considered as a "do it once and forget it" exercise. Best practices dictate that the gap analysis should be performed on a regular basis to demonstrate continuous improvement. SMS Pro has charting tools that allow managers to demonstrate improvement (or lack of improvement) in safety regulations compliance over time.

Customized Gap Analysis Templates or Models

For the first couple years (2008 to 2010), SMS Pro used three gap analysis templates from the FAA, Transport Canada and a reputable aviation SMS training company (SCSI).  In 2011, SMS Pro included the ICAO gap analysis model as the template for which Middle East airlines and airports preferred to use. In 2011, a helicopter operator stated that the gap analysis templates were well suited for fixed-wing operators, MROs and perhaps airports; however, some items in the gap analysis template didn't apply to their operation.

Sample gap analysis templates can be used for airlines and airports
This operator wanted the ability to:
  • Delete questions in the gap analysis;
  • Change the wording of some of the gap analysis template questions;
  • Add questions to the gap analysis; and
  • Add/remove categories to the gap analysis model.

Different Gap Analysis Models Included in SMS Pro

The above features were included into SMS Pro in early 2011. Each organization can now have their own "Customized" Gap Analysis template on which they can conduct their gap analysis exercises. Alternatively, they may continue to use one of the existing gap analysis templates:
  • ICAO
  • FAA
  • Transport Canada
  • Hybrid (ICAO, TC, IS-BAO, FAA)

Customized Gap Analysis Templates Based on Recognized Models

Customized gap analysis templates for airlines airports aviation safety management systems
A "Customized Gap Analysis" will be based on one of the existing, well recognized models provided by ICAO or a civil aviation authority. Users can customize their Custom Gap Analysis templates in SMS Pro's "Custom Inspection Form" creator module using a sample gap analysis included in SMS Pro. Users select a model and adapt the gap analysis sample to suit their organizational needs. Gap Analyses are still performed and managed in SMS Pro's Gap Analysis module similar to the regular gap analysis templates.

PDF Exports of Gap Analysis Templates Afford Greater Flexibility

Since the Gap Analysis template can now be edited in SMS Pro's "Custom Inspection Form" module, PDF export is available for blank forms. Managers can forward the gap analysis template PDF to managers and assign sections to areas for which the assigned managers are subject matter experts.

IS-BAO Gap Analysis Model Added

In 2012, SMS Pro included the IS-BAO gap analysis template. The other gap analysis models mentioned above are better samples against which to base you gap analysis exercise. However, if you are a corporate operator that must satisfy the IS-BAO requirements, then you may find the IS-BAO gap analysis template suitable.

Features of Web Based Gap Analysis Software for Aviation SMS Programs

Features of the Gap Analysis module include:
    1) Five Gap Analysis templates or models to choose from;
    2) Multiple users can work on the same Gap Analysis in real time;
    3) Web based, secure environment;
    4) Easy to use interface;
    5) Able to "score/rate" each question;
    6) Provide notes referring to documentation or justifying answers to each question;
    7) Able to add general notes covering entire Gap Analysis for later review;
    8) Final report emailed to user who started the Gap Analysis;
    9) Printable report for those needing hard-copies;
    10) Charts and graphs comparing results of completed Gap Analyses;
    11) Able to resume Gap Analysis at a later time, from other computers/locations
    12) Review past Gap Analyses and get historical reports with a single click.

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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