One of the most common mistakes that we have seen developers make when working on a safety program is to think too much about the audit/assessment. We constantly get questioned about whether the things they are doing are sufficient for an audit or whether there would be Non-Compliances (NC) that could arise for doing things in a particular way.
Unfortunately, this is a wrong thought process to have. The most important stakeholder for a safe product is the people who will be using the product or the people who could be affected by the safe product (Think pedestrians sharing the same road as the vehicle that is deemed safety relevant). As a developer the thought process should be about doing all the right things relating to safety.
A non-exhaustive list of ‘Right
Things’ are given below:
- Understanding what a safe product looks like and what it takes to develop it (Think technology, process, methods & tools)
- Transparently stating the limits and limitations of your product (Safety case!)
- Understanding the significance/intention of a safety process (Consider the ‘Why’. Hint: Read Simon Sinek!)
- Constantly challenging the process & yet stick to it till you are convinced that the process does not make sense.
Some of the problems of trying to satisfy the auditor/assessor are:
- Each auditor is different. What is acceptable to one auditor might not the acceptable to another. This finally comes down to how experienced the auditor is, what her risk appetite is etc.
- Each product is different. What is considered as an acceptable process/methodology for one product might not be valid for another product.
- Each safety goal is different. This means that a ‘One size fit all’ mentality of doing things won’t work and the tailoring that needs to happen based on each safety goal could be missed.
- Even though work products are important, the critical question of “Why are we doing this work product?” remains unanswered.
Does it mean that we should treat the audit/assessment with disdain? Does it mean that we should treat the auditor/assessor with contempt?
From personal experience, our profound learnings on safety have come from audits we have had the good luck to be part of (Hint: The auditors were super experienced and knew safety like the back of their hand). It all comes down to how you approach the audits/assessments. They are useful for finding gaps in your process/methods & as well in your thinking and help in improving our product.
Whenever you are attending an audit, the following points needs to be remembered:
- Always ask the auditors perspective when they ask a question or when they find a gap.
- Understand the impact of the gap from the auditors itself. This way, you could find the optimal way to fix the gap. Even better, ask the auditor about the simplest way to fix the gap.