Is your MOC process broken?

The goal of any MOC process is to ensure that proposed changes to a potentially hazardous process don’t occur without appropriate review, thereby lowering environmental, health, and safety (EHS) risks.

It’s mandatory in some environments, and simply best practice in others. In all cases, it can introduce a lot of headaches for organizations using outdated methods and lacking modern EHS software to help them stay organized. Relying on outdated tools can present daily challenges to safety & efficiency.

The typical MOC process

Many existing MOC systems began on one person’s desk and evolved into organization-wide use. These systems, often born from thoughts of simplicity and low entry cost, commonly fall into three categories: paper-based, spreadsheets, and home-grown or special-built applications.

Paper and spreadsheets

Though one method is digital and the other consists of hardcopies in a filing cabinet, paper-based and spreadsheet systems share many similarities:

  • The set-up cost is low.
  • The basic skills needed to participate in the system are generally available across the organization.
  • Forms and supporting information exist in a number of files and folders.
  • One person is typically in charge of keeping watch over the information.
  • Teams circulate files by email or by hand for review and approval.
  • Approvals take place on ink on paper.

These systems fall short in various ways:

  • Information isn’t always readily available or easy to navigate. This can slow the change process, discourage use of the system, add man-hours, and even create downtime in operations. Compliance audits are more troublesome and at greater risk if documentation cannot be produced when needed. Updates to forms and workflows are difficult to implement.
  • Expertise in the system’s workings and in enforcement of process consistency frequently falls to one person. If or when that person departs the organization, so does their experience and knowledge.
  • Reports on current status and past activities require considerable time and effort to produce, assuming the necessary information is even available. It can be difficult to keep track of what activities are ahead or behind, and any notifications or reminders are typically handled by one nagging person.
  • Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to misplace, incorrectly modify, or accidentally delete information.
  • Tracking changes against specific pieces of equipment can be onerous, requiring manual effort and a high risk of incomplete data.
  • Though initial costs are low, subsequent hidden costs add up quickly over time.

In-house MOC solutions

Hoping to cure the ills of paper and spreadsheet systems, organizations will adapt general database and information sharing tools (often built on Microsoft’s Access and SharePoint) to MOC purposes.

If well-designed and maintained, these applications can provide improvements over simpler paper files and spreadsheets, offering reporting, control, and cross-referencing that would not otherwise exist.

However, they often come with their own problems.

The cost to create and maintain the system can be significant, needing the combined contributions from EHS and IT. To generate a workable system incorporating feedback from users and management can take one to two man-years with a typical personnel cost of $80,000 to $100,000 per year.

Furthermore, the IT staff involved are often systems or database administrators rather than software developers and designers, rarely leading to a graceful, easy-to-use application. The EHS contributor may or may not have the necessary knowledge or resources to follow industry best practices.

Once you submit a request for updates or new feature, it probably falls into the background. The EHS and IT originators move on to other areas or other employers, taking their background knowledge with them. Maintenance and support become hit or miss. Software upgrades occur every few years, if ever.

Improving MOC processes with standardization

Software can help make the MOC process both painless and robust.

Ready access and ease of use – Uncomplicated, accessible software encourage participation. All the bells and whistles in the world don’t matter unless it allows workers closest to the front line to enter and track changes in a simple and user-friendly way

Standardized execution – The software tool guides users through a consistent workflow. Everything from data entry to review and approval occurs in a standard way from one change event to the next.

Effective reporting – Everyone involved, from top to bottom, can see the content and status of all changes. See what’s complete and what’s not.

Automated action items and reminders – Sometimes people fall behind and need a little push; sometimes they appreciate receiving a heads-up on upcoming actions. Rather than assigning someone to chase these details, the MOC software issues automatic notifications.

Security – The accumulated information is safe from loss. All changes are reviewed and approved at the proper authority levels.

Data tagged to equipment – A change history is maintained for any piece of equipment by cross-linking to associated MOCs.

Good value – The right software should save you far more time than what you’re putting in to maintain it, and at a reasonable cost.

The Frontline MOC software solution

Legacy MOC systemsare frequently more burden than benefit. As an alternative, consider modern web-based software that offers distinct advantages over yesterday’s systems.

At Frontline, we built our management of change software to be both simple to use and powerful.

We do everything we can to minimize keystrokes and leverage an intuitive point-and-click interface. Because it’s electronic, everyone in the organization can easily access it.

  • Starting from pre-defined templates, the user can customize workflows, forms, checklists, and reports to fit the company’s circumstances, ensure consistent use, and provide information the way it’s needed.
  • Set up and manage multiple departments, divisions, and locations in one place.
  • Easily cross-reference MOCs against individual pieces of affected equipment.
  • Progress on MOCs can be easily monitored, and automated notifications and reminders can be issued electronically.
  • All reviews and approvals are handled digitally within the application.
  • Data is stored and safely secured on multiple redundant off-site servers.

Providing software that works is only part of the solution. At Frontline, these are the standard services we provide to every client:

  • On-site implementation and training
  • Migrating data from legacy systems
  • Integration with Single Sign-On (SSO), HRIS, Asset Management, and other third-party software
  • Ongoing technical support from a dedicated expert

The cost of our software, data storage, and support is a fraction of the cost of a manual MOC process. Not to mention the gains in productivity, visibility, turnaround time, and more.