Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hidden Secrets in Aviation Safety Software You Never See

Hidden Features in Aviation Safety Management Software

Out of sight, out of mind. When you don't see certain features in SMS Pro, you would never expect them to be configurable in the Web-based aviation safety management (SMS) software solution. For example, most SMS Pro users don't realize how configurable their aviation SMS software is, such as the ability to change the system from a "Safety Management System" to a "Quality Management System."

Below is a screenshot of the hidden tab in SMS Pro's Setup >> Customize Settings.

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What Are These Aviation SMS Software Features?

Many of the features displayed are self explanatory based on the setting label. There are a few configurations that bear more detail.

Task Lead Time: When issues, corrective actions and tasks are due or overdue, the assigned user is sent an email advising that action is required. By default, the default lead time is set to 3 days, which means that 3 days before an item is due, assigned users are notified of the required action. Note: Users must be configured to receive daily email notifications (see User Roles Setup tab).

Default Culture: This is the default culture code (language) that your portal is designed to use. SMS Pro's default language is English, but other options include Spanish, French, German and Chinese.

CEO Commitment Tab Name: Some companies don't have CEOs. The accountable executive may be called "President," "Chief," etc. The User Dashboard has a tab called CEO Commitment to Safety where accountable executives can post an explicit commitment to safety visible to all users. Your SMS Pro software can be easily configured to use another title for this tab.

Safety Manager Tab Name: Some companies don't call Safety Managers by this title, but by "Safety Director," or "Safety Officer." We can easily accommodate your needs when you request.

System Type: SMS Pro can not only be an aviation safety management system (SMS) software solution, but also a Quality Management System or an Environmental Management System, or even a Security Management System. Most elements (modules) remain the same across systems, however, we easily change the name of the system using this software configuration setting.

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Meeting Manager Front Image: SMS Pro's Meeting Manager has a group of white managers sitting  around a board table. This image may not be fitting for Asian, African or Middle Eastern cultures. We can easily change this image based on your request.

Is Helicopter Company: Helicopter companies have helipads that can be configured in SMS Pro's Flight Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT).

Self Induction: Users receiving initial SMS training are inducted into the program to document they have been trained in the usage of the software and understand the role they play in your companies SMS program. Users indicate they understand the SMS program by completing a short form, which then notifies managers that a user "requests induction." By default, managers must confirm that users have been inducted into the SMS Program. Some companies don't want to be bothered by confirming thousands of users, but allow users to "self induct."

Anonymous Induction Reporting Allowed: When users are not able to honestly complete the induction process by answering all questions, they may leave their concerns and an issue is reported in the aviation safety management software program. After all, when users are not inducted into your safety program, this is a safety concern. By default, safety managers are notified of the person's name who has troubles becoming inducted into your safety program. But what about the so-called "anonymous reporting" that may be required by many companies? This feature allows a user to request anonymity when indicating that he doesn't agree with all the statements in the induction request form.

Secure Dashboard Charts from SMS Users: SMS Pro's aviation SMS software has a Users' Dashboard available to all general users, as well as more in-depth charts for managers. A few companies don't wish their users to see the User Dashboard Charts. This setting allows Administrators to easily hide these charts from general SMS Users.

Use Message Board: Turns Message Board features off and on.

Use Status Board: Allows company to use Airport Status and Aircraft/Vehicle Status modules that are integrated into the Message Board.

Use Mission Dispatch: SMS Pro has a Mission Dispatch module used for dispatching aircraft and crews. This module is used very little.

Requires Message Board Popup: Message Board has messages which users indicate that they have read. Some companies have requirements that pilots must read all messages before departing on missions. To prove they have read a particular message, a popup appears with a code that the pilot jots down and takes to dispatch before departing. Dispatch easily confirms the number proving the pilot has read the message.

Log Every User Activity in DB: SMS Pro has the ability to track every action taken by a user. Many enterprise level aviation SMS software programs can track when users add, delete or update records in the database. However, SMS Pro has the ability to track every page and report that a user has seen, including search variables used to run reports.

Use Mapping Interface in Reporting: SMS Pro's Web based reporting software has a configurable map on the initial screen for users to add "pins" indicating where the event occurred. This map is optional and can be easily removed upon request.

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Allow Email Link in Reported Issues: By default, users are sent a "Thank You" email after submitting their report. Each email has a link to allow users to track and follow up on their reported issues. If you don't want the link to appear in the email (for whatever reason), we can easily exclude the link.

Additional Aviation SMS Software Features?

All of these features have been requested over the past six years by airlines and airports around the world. If you have a feature request or enhancement, please send us an email at

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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