Navigating the Waters of Contractor Management

Achieving Certification Without Losing Your Mind

As their primary role, safety professionals typically manage a safe work culture. However, shuffling papers often becomes increasingly important along with accepting the administrator role and managing company information on third-party safety database sites.

The contractor representative is tasked with submitting the customer’s requested information. Whatever the client wants, the contractor must provide. Failure to comply results in the dreaded orange dot or failing score. Shortly thereafter, management demands an explanation as to why the client turned the crew away. This can lead to a potentially uncomfortable conversation.

5 ways the current prequalification process fails energy companies:

  1. Basketing contractors into specific groups
  2. Entering duplicate data for multiple clients
  3. Lengthy response time
  4. Customer service gaps
  5. Financial privacy

Combatting system shortcomings

One of the major issues associated with the current selection of contractor management database suppliers is the “one size fits all” mentality. Just because a company performs one service does not necessarily mean they perform another. Consider a company, for example, that chemically cleans components of pipeline systems but does not perform mechanical excavation activities. A certain supplier management service site requires a Mechanical Excavation Safety Program. This happens quite often, and the contractor is left with one of two choices: Decline to write the program and lose the customer or write the program and never use it. Neither possibility is inviting and exemption requests usually get denied.

Considering the time it takes to input requested data into the database, frustration surely mounts when it must be repeated. Safety statistics such as the number of incidents and man-hours must be entered into the database at specific times. Every customer wants to know how many of a company’s man-hours and incidents are applicable to their place of business. Imagine if an energy services company finishes the month with no incidents. That is a zero that must be entered for each client. The more clients available, the more zeroes that must be entered. The more zeroes inputted, the more time spent entering data and not focused on more meaningful tasks.

Managers of companies’ qualification and subcontractor accounts have certainly been on the receiving end of messages requesting data in a demanding timeline. Yet, the response time is not reciprocated. Should it not be found acceptable, a failing grade is issued leaving the administrator scrambling to fulfill requirements.

Frustration surfaces when declined responses are sufficient, but the prequalification database validator lacks the knowledge to properly assign a grade. They are often thought to be reading from a checklist and if the information is not presented in a specific fashion, it is deemed unacceptable. For example, insurance certificates cause havoc if limits are met through bundling and not as one specific line item.

Safety professionals identify some requested information as having no bearing on a company’s safety program. Most entities do not reveal financial standing, earnings, and credit scores to the public. Deciding to not reveal this information when requested can result in another uncomfortable conversation with management.

How to improve the supplier qualification process

The less time spent inputting data and processing paperwork, the better. The need for contactor management websites is undeniable, yet the process can be streamlined. Instead of pushing the workload on the people who foot the bill, the site should pick up the slack. The contractor should enter the required data once and the site itself should be designed to disperse it as needed to each applicable customer.

The approval process should be timely. Instead of waiting for extended periods of time, sites should secure adequate customer support staff to verify the information and offer approval or disapproval more efficiently. Customer support representatives and validators should be properly trained to review the information. A sufficient understanding of insurance requirements and safety regulations is needed to exercise a timely response.

Management sites must refrain from complacency and rekindle a new attempt to provide the necessary support. Contractor management service sites must recognize that not all companies provide the same grouping of services, therefore, they cannot be identified in the same fashion.

Finally, the site must be willing to act as the mediator between the customer and the contractor. The client requests the database membership and lists the requirements, but the contractor pays the bill. Site designers must be willing to represent the best interests of both parties and mediate fairly between them in the process of information exchange.

Success by design

With extraordinary changes being made within the energy industry, advancements in technology and efficiency are crucial. Safety databases must utilize a big picture mindset and develop their processes to assist both in streamlining the contractor management and prequalification processes themselves.

Sites must provide a simple information submittal process and eliminate duplicate data entry. Individual attention should be given to each contractor and assist them in achieving compliance. The client’s needs must be met, but the approval process can be better steered with the application of more attention to both parties.

Invoking change

Acknowledging the pitfalls of the status quo, an innovative process to simplify registration, manage the qualification process, and remain in compliance is essential. Offering a customer support team that is properly trained and provides a one on one approach is equally important to helping contractors fulfill their clients’ needs.

CanQualify identified the current shortcomings of the current database systems available and vowed to avoid making similar mistakes. As a result, the development team surveyed both customers and contractors to pinpoint gaps and institute improvements.

Simplifying the process will only make it more useful. Safety professionals are willing to submit a reasonable amount of time in database management but must feel they are receiving some value in return. A contractor management service must offer a direct and personable approach that increases efficiency through the elimination of repetitive data entry and the willingness to approach customers to cut through red tape and complete the qualification process.

How do you decide an alternative is needed?

Exercising the decision to use an alternative contractor management service might seem daunting but should be simple. A process that costs the user both money and time cannot be good for any company. The prequalification process should not instill anxiety. When value cannot be determined or retrieved, a contractor must seek and demand another provider of services.

When do you pull the trigger?

Contracting with an alternative safety database provider is simply a measurement of tolerance. When the contractor decides too much time is allocated to data entry and management, a change should be made. If the current system fails to offer the assistance it has been designed to supply in contractor management, a call to action should be had. Lastly, companies must institute change if the current status quo negatively impacts their overall safety culture, as well as their bank accounts. If that is the case, it is time to act.

Contact CanQualify to discover a powerful new alternative to the contractor management process.

Article by Nick Vaccaro
A safety manager with over eight years of oil and gas experience. Nick specializes in HSE consulting and writing and is the owner of SHALE EHS LLC.