Following on from my last post on the possibilities of digitalising safety, this week, I want to take things a little further by sharing with you, one major tools I use to manage my work and run my safety business as well as ensure client’s compliance.
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Before I dive into the tools, it so important to know what I do at my safety business, and how we came about using the tools we currently use.
When people here technology, I think they assume it has to do with robots and wonder how possible it would be for such systems to be effective. In this post, I will amaze you with the everyday tools we use and how.
What we do isn’t much different from what you do. Probably.
I will be referencing one of my businesses, Safe Schools.
Like most safety companies, we provide a consultancy service and training but as the name implies, we work primarily with schools.
The business is based in Nigeria, while I am based in the UK, so I manage my team remotely. I will be sharing with you how I do this, but of course, not without some headache. ????
Here is a brief step by step of one of our key offerings:
- We visit schools and conduct a safety assessment against some pre-set criteria we created. What many call an audit.
- We then compile a report and improvement plan and send off to the school.
- We work with the school and contractors to help the school resolve any outstanding and complete all high priority actions.
- We also train the school staff and have educational sessions with the children.
The everyday tools we found helpful
Because I manage the team remotely and have a good knowledge of technological tools and platforms, it was a no-brainer deciding on what tools to use. Safe Schools is run like a social enterprise, so we are careful to not go big on spending.
That is where my knowledge of technology comes into play.
We largely depend on the Gsuite Family of Apps
Gsuite is by the awesome Google.
It comes in the free version mostly accessed via your gmail.com account.
It also comes in a paid version called Google for Business. The basic account starts at $6 per user. I use the paid version for my business so that I can link my domain name and use it for corporate emails and collaboration with my team. So rather than have a firstname.lastname@example.org email address, we have a Gmail account (called Gsuite) and all its features but as email@example.com. Makes sense?
As we use it more, the more I realise it has great potential to replace those more expensive platforms. At $6 per person for the basic account, it can get pricey if you have a large team but I leave it to you to weigh your options. In a future post, I will dive a lot more into the Gsuite family and explain in full what each app does and the different features you can get under the various free and paid versions.
How we use Gsuite to manage our work
This section you will find helpful and will very likely pick ideas you can immediately implement in your safety department or company so you can effectively manage your work.
To access all the Gsuite apps, you must be logged into Gmail and click on the 9-dot on the top right circled in red in the image below.
When you click on the 9-dot, you will find most of the apps present – you need to scroll up to see the rest of the apps.
On the free Gmail, you may need to do a bit more searching to access some of the apps like Google Forms for example.
Going back to the process I described above for one of our main services, I will state for each, what tool we use, and then explain why.
1. Conducting a safety assessment.
For this, we make use of Google Sheet (Google’s own version of Excel). As you know, Excel or Google Sheet as in this case, is very powerful especially as you can set formulas, rules, conditions, etc.
We have a pre-set criteria which we have entered into a Google Sheet – staff knows not to break it and to make a copy before every assessment, allowing us to retain the original copy. You can set permissions to view only so no one else can edit it ????.
After the assessment, we have a report generated with charts, etc. This gives us a bird’s eye view of the compliance level of the school. It works just as Excel but with more ease of collaboration. If you are used to Excel, Google Sheets will be a walk in the park.
Pictures they say speak louder. The chart alone is easily understood by clients as it shows scorings in percentage and utilises the RAG (Red, Amber, Green) colour system.
That said, there are platforms that cost more that could do this and even faster. But it all depends on your finances. Google Sheet is free and is a great place to start.
We will explore some of the more robust Softwares in the coming weeks.
2. Report Compilation
This we do with Google Docs template. We export necessary information from the Google Sheet and work off an existing template. We just enter the necessary information, save as PDF, and add to the client’s folder (located in My Drive) accessible only by authorised people and the client. A link to the folder is still sent so the client is reminded and aware his/her report is ready. The editable word document is kept in a separate pre-determined folder.
My Drive is a cloud-based storage platform available all Gmail accounts but of course has storage limits. On Google for Business, you get about double that available on the free account.
3. Resolving Outstanding and Managing Tasks
We work with the school and relevant contractors at this stage. We make use of Google Sheet for this stage. Google doesn’t have a project management app but the Sheets work just fine. We create a project timeline and always have the most up to date as any entries are saved immediately and available 247 on any smart device. Did I mention you can check previous versions and who made the changes? Yep. It’s that cool.
Google Sheets does have its limits as there are better Softwares in the market but as I said, are a great way to start. It is reliable and affordable.
Yay! Gsuite is so cool. It also has slides for presentations and a classroom for delivery ????. With Classroom, you can share files, discuss, give assignments, make announcements, and even explore gamification to make the learning experience enjoyable.
We, however, no longer use the classroom, as we now have a learning management system that houses courses we sell and use inhouse, but the slides is one of my favourites as I get to work on them directly from my phone, while seated on a train. My staff can get on many files and work on them and I get to see the changes in real-time, making collaboration, and correcting work easy and fast.
5. Managing my Team remotely
By now, you probably have an idea of how manage my team and the work they do for clients. I use the collaborative power of Gsuite. We use folders and files, of course only granting access to who should have access. Through this, I can assess and monitor the work we do for clients.
Google Calendar is quite powerful so we use it to set and allocate tasks, set deadlines, plan meetings (which usually or with a click gives us a meeting link to attend meetings via Google Meet – it is very secure as only those who should attend are able to).
What do you think of the tools I mentioned?
Just a recap, I have shared how we use Google Sheets, Google Docs, Folders, Google Slides, Google Calendar and Meet, and the possibility of using Google Classroom to host trainings. Google has many more apps (over 12 core ones and more than 50 others), of which I will be explaining the core ones and a few others, by going over them individually in a future post. Watch this space. ????
Using the Gsuite apps, allows us to have an all in one solution, collaborate with the teams and with clients, and effectively monitor and manage the work the teams do.
You need to understand what you want to achieve in your business and what will work for you. We work with schools in Nigeria. We operate as a Social Enterprise. Using Google for Business works for us.
As an employee, I have been exposed to more robust Softwares – both ready to use and in-house bespoke solutions. I can’t wait to dive into them and share with you the many possibilities available to you and your business.
I hope you have picked some tips you can now introduce at work. Did you enjoy reading that? Please us a comment or questions.