Tag Archive for: food safety

The Power of the Big Picture

When it comes to mentioning the names of great modern leaders one that does not immediately come to mind is Gene Kranz. For me this is a shame since I believe he has a lot to teach us when it comes to understanding Compliance and Risk. For those hearing his name for the first time, Gene Kranz was the Flight Director at NASA during the Gemini and Apollo programs. He is best known for serving as flight director during the first lunar landing of Apollo 11. He also gained distinction for his role in directing the successful Mission Control team efforts to save the crew of Apollo 13. Kranz is also the author of the book “Failure is Not an Option” covering the subjects of risk, leadership, and teams.

What’s most interesting about him, unlike better-known leaders, is that Kranz was never shy of laying his soul bare.  Allow me to explain… When historians approach the task of writing the history of their national heroes, they seldom if ever mention their failures. Instead, our leaders are invariably perfect in their heroics – powerful and omnipotent. Popular culture displays little tolerance for heroes who are human and fallible. That is, leaders who are just as capable of failure as well as success. This presents a problem for leadership, our leaders and those who follow them. Leadership is a human endeavor. It finds its expression in men and women who intrinsically display the necessary trait of solving problems. Similarly, humans are hardwired to recognize these leadership traits. It makes sense for the species and its survival. Leadership when effective can mobilize the collective effort of humans to achieve great things (moon landings) which as individuals would otherwise be impossible. But by elevating leaders and leadership to the realms of deity we fail to understand the true nature and benefits of great leadership. Dealing with Failures!

Kranz has the distinction of being the flight director of what was arguably man’s greatest technological achievement – “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth”. By the same token, he also led the team of Apollo 13. This mission failed to land on the moon and almost saw the loss of the crew. However, through his leadership, he mobilized his team to ensure their safe return to earth. The mission became known as the “Successful Failure”. Kranz excelled as a leader because he understood the true nature of risk, teams, data and decision making. When the command module of Apollo 13 exploded and all around him in mission control were losing their heads, Kranz provided leadership when it was most needed. He addressed his team clearly saying;

“Let’s look at this thing from a standpoint of status. What have we got on the spacecraft that’s good?”

Kranz understood clearly that to solve the issue his team needed to look beyond the microdata and focus on the bigger picture of Status. So, what does any of this have to do with Food Safety Management and Safefood 360’s new StatusBI Feature? The answer is a lot. Let’s start with the basics.

The Objectives of Food Safety Management

The primary objectives of any food safety management system are:

  1. To ensure Compliance with legislative and customer requirements
  2. To eliminate or reduce to an acceptable level the Risk of food poisoning

In order to achieve these objectives, food businesses globally undertake the implementation of a food safety system which meets relevant legal requirements and increasingly obtain third-party certification under one of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Standards. The underlying assumption is that full implementation of these requirements will have the effect of reducing risk and maintaining compliance.

The True Nature of Food Safety Management Systems

Let’s look closer at what this means in practice. We need to understand the actual nature of the typical food safety management system. The objective is twofold

  1. Increase Compliance
  2. Reduce Risk.

When companies come to developing and maintaining their food safety management systems they put in place specific activities defined under the regulatory standards. For example, the company may develop a set of cleaning activities for its plant and equipment for reasons that are evident. The company may also put in place specific monitoring programs for processes measuring various things like temperature, times, pressures, and microbiological, physical and chemical hazards in food. Extending it further, the company may also put in place management processes such as complaints management, internal auditing, CAPA management and so on. There is nothing unusual about any of this, except we often overlook its true nature.

Food Safety Systems are in essence a collection of numerous tasks, jobs, and measurements.

For simplicity, let’s call all of these ‘Actions’. The number and complexity of these Actions can vary from operation to operation but in all cases, this collection of Actions represents your FSM. But why do we put these actions in place? What are we trying to achieve? These questions may sound obvious but their answers may be somewhat less so.

Blog anchor food safety software oversight

Let’s look closer. When a food business puts in place any specific action under FSM it is making one simple assumption or statement of intent;

This Action will increase my Compliance and reduce my Risk.

Whether or not the food business is conscious of this, they are essentially making this declaration.

Seeing the Big Picture

Let me make another statement of fact. The vast majority of food safety outbreaks come from food businesses who have in place compliant and certified food safety management systems. This should tell us a lot about how we approach food safety management.

In attempting to get the system set up and maintained, food businesses often focus on the micro level outputs of these Actions – a single internal audit result, specific status of CAPA’s or individual test results. Of course, this should be done and is necessary to meet your objectives of safe and legal food products, however, a predominance of food safety micromanagement outputs can make it difficult to identify macro-level trends which can alert you to emerging and significant issues in your organization.

A predominance of food safety micromanagement outputs can make it difficult to identify macro-level trends which can alert you to emerging and significant issues in your organization.

Before we start berating ourselves too much, let us consider some practical issues. Food safety management systems which are correctly set up against requirements have an annoying tendency to generate a massive volume of data. In fact, the data can be generated at such a rate that it is almost impossible to assimilate it before another avalanche of data arrives. The effect of this is simple – we lose insight and oversight of the macro picture! In the context of any management system (including food safety), this leads to management by opinion rather than by objective fact. This, in turn, leads to reduced compliance or increased risk.

In other words, the underlying principle of the food safety management system (increased compliance / reduced risk) is undermined by the very burden the system creates. Moreover, this state of affairs leads to a lost opportunity to genuinely drive improvement since the data has massive potential value. It contains all the required information to have full oversight of your current compliance and risk status.

Data Noise and Overload

We cannot escape the volume of data generated by food safety systems. We need it to gain certification and do business. But it can create a deafening noise and overload our attempts to figure out where we actually are in regard to compliance and risk. Food safety management is a human-driven process. Regardless of the level of automation, humans ultimately review, determine and action food safety data. Difficulties arise when humans attempt to make decisions based on the volumes of data coming from our mountain of food safety Actions.

Particularly in times of crisis we need to know the Status of the situation. In the absence of a crisis, we still need to know the Status. We need to see the big picture, the trends, and the pertinent data only. And this is what Safefood 360’s StatusBI Feature is all about.

Particularly in times of crisis we need to know the Status of the situation.

Safefood 360 Status

Safefood 360° are proud to announce the launch of our new Business Intelligence (BI) feature – Safefood 360 StatusBI. Launching in April 2018, this new system-wide tool has ground-breaking features which for the first time provide food safety and technical managers with real-time oversight of their entire operation. Safefood 360 StatusBI is a powerful business intelligence tool which is fully embedded into the Safefood 360° platform. It will provide users with the ability to develop smart:

  • Interactive Reports
  • Embedded Dashboards
  • Self Service Reports and Data Exploration

Making BI Intelligent

Safefood 360 StatusBI is the next evolution in food safety management. In addition to the normal BI features you expect, Safefood 360° has added its decades of working in food safety to make BI even smarter. Here’s what we have done…

Demo request

As mentioned above, the ultimate aim of any food safety manager is to know two key pieces of information at any given moment:

  • What is the current level of Compliance?
  • What is the likely Risk of something going wrong?

StatusBI now makes it possible to determine the current level of Compliance and Risk of your Business Group, Business Units, Supply Chain and individual Manufacturing Units in real-time. More than this, it is also possible to measure both Compliance and Risk down to the module and record level.



Based on a combination of validated criteria applied to all Actions in Safefood 360° the system calculates the current Compliance rating and Risk level. This allows you to focus on the bigger picture and drill down when required to where the issues live. You can quickly find any plant, module, supplier, action or master data entity contributing to poor Risk or Compliance. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The solution will also provide new, enhanced analytics in the areas of supply quality management and governance indicators by both supplier and supply chain map.