Compliance and Obligation Management for Mining Company

About the client's project

The client was running a high profile mining project in a remote, mountainous and undeveloped part of Africa. As well as the challenges of constructing and operating a mine in such a location, there were huge infrastructure requirements including the need to construct a railway, a port, many hundreds of kilometers of new roads as well as new power and water delivery infrastructure.

 

The Challenge

Tracking adherence to and providing evidence of compliance against many thousands of corporate, ethical, social, legal and procedural commitments proved to be very difficult.

Parts of the project overlapped areas of high environmental importance so the client had to deal with a tangled web of permit conditions, international obligations as well as local and national laws. The project had several joint venture partners including the country's government which resulted in highly complex contractual obligations. Additionally, the permitting and legal framework in the country was under-developed and there were issues with the government's capacity to manage a project of this scale.

Due to these complexities and the scale of the project, permitting and obligations/compliance management were identified as some of the biggest risks to the project's success. Failure to manage these risks could have resulted in loss of the mining rights over the deposit.

Initially, the project team tried to manage these commitments using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets but found this approach to be extremely cumbersome. Excel relies on manual inputs, it does not provide the ability to interrelate obligations and obligation documentation. As a stand-alone application, it was not possible to solicit contributions to share and to retain control of the information in the spreadsheets. To make matters worse, knowledge was often lost when employees left, and it was difficult, if not impossible, to provide a snapshot or "big picture view" on the overall 'compliance' of the project.

Root Causes

An in depth review of the issues uncovered the following deficiencies:

  • Staff and contractors could not easily collaborate effectively.

    • Staff would often forget to update the spreadsheets. The updating of the spreadsheets also created an entire extra layer of work for everyone.

    • Everyone was completely reliant on email messages to advise an ever changing group of stakeholders across numerous departments within many companies.

    • Geographical, cultural and language barriers made it difficult for people in different parts of the world to work together effectively.

  • There was no central repository for "one truth" which means people would often act on incorrect or out of date information. This also often resulted in a replication of effort.

  • Knowhow and information was often lost as and when key staff and contractors left the project. As different people worked in different ways, it would take months for people to figure out how to resolve complex problems each time there was a change within the team. This again led to a duplication of effort in some cases and the risk of non-compliances in others.

  • There was a lack of clarity as to which tasks and obligations were the highest priority which meant it was difficult to direct resources and effort appropriately which caused over compliance in some areas and under compliance in others.

  • The multitude of project stakeholders with different interests and focuses meant it was challenging to keep everyone up to date. The reliance on Excel also meant that providing focused reports about compliance issues and progress proved to be both time consuming and prone to errors and omissions.

The company identified that in order to properly manage these compliance risks and provide the oversight that stakeholders required, the project needed something that was highly configurable yet simple to use. Since it had to be deployed globally (sometimes in places with very little bandwidth) and accessed from workstations, tablets and mobile phones, the system also needed to web-based.

In looking for the right solution from vendors with purpose build systems, the project quickly found there was 'no one size fits all' solution to complex business problems such as the ones the project was facing. Clockworx was selected for the project due to the highly configurable nature of its platform, competitive pricing and its ability to deliver the system in a very short time frame.

The requirements included: web-based; workflows configured to the local regulations; business processes with well defined accountabilities; visibility to ‘on-the-ground’ activities to facilitate collaboration across organisational silos; minimising costs; and real-time reporting of compliance status.

Our approach

Clockworx is not “out of the box”. It configures the powerful tools in the software to work how the customer wants to work.

We worked closely with the project's employees, contractors and other stakeholders to ensure we fully understood their challenges and requirements through a detailed requirements capture and business mapping process. This involved a "deep dive" and analysis into how compliance was managed and worked within the project ie who was involved in each aspect of compliance management, what they did, what information they needed to do their job and when did they need it, what the workflow was for different types of obligations, what reporting was required and to whom.

Once we fully understood the requirements, in collaboration with the customer, we:

  • provided an initial, online, instance of Clockworx that could be used to manage the delivery of the compliance system.

  • identified the tasks that could be completed in parallel and the jobs that needed to be accomplished serially by conducting a workflow and dependency analysis.

  • structured these tasks into a series of BPMN based, multidimensional workflows which were presented to the customer for approval.

  • helped structure the existing data so that it could be imported into the system and provided an initial system for data import.

  • configured Clockworx to manage the work that needed to be done to ensure obligations were met by defining roles, trackable entities, access rights, workflows, replication rules, default values, automation, wizards, notifications, alerts and escalations.

  • created, within Clockworx, a repository of all obligations that needed to be managed.

As we progressed, we delivered incrementally improved version of the system so that we could solicit continual input from the customer to ensure the implementation was progressing in line with their requirements. This approach meant the end product reflected the way the project team wanted to work. It also meant staff were vested in the project and felt ownership which ultimately led to a very successful roll out.

 

The Solution

Following our intensive requirements capture, we were able to rapidly translate a set of complex requirements into a working cloud based workstation and mobile based system which:

  • allows users to work in their own language whilst collaborating in the system with someone working in another language;

  • divides the system into a series of work areas based on different areas of compliance/work;

  • recorded all obligations and simplified the monitoring of adherence to these obligations;

  • allows evidence of adherence to be collected and maintained;

  • makes it easy to locate specific obligations and monitor changes;

  • records actions assigned to specific employees for each obligation which had due dates - thereby making people accountable;

  • implements an automated workflow so that actions are automatically assigned and updated correctly without an employee needing to remember the next step;

  • associates workflows to any/all trackable entities;

  • issues alerts when things were due, late or at risk - this acted as an early warning system which helped people to plan and to avoid non-compliances arising and avoided missing permit renewal dates. for example;

  • tracks the teams, team workload and simplifies the redistribution of responsibilities as the teams change;

  • logs every change to any record within the system for auditing purposes;

  • manages meetings and shared resources;

  • automates escalation of issues to managers when appropriate - thereby helping managers to manage their team and mitigate risks of non-compliances;

  • manages hundreds of thousands of project documents and links them to relevant obligations and actions;

  • provides knowledge bases/help in terms of both using the system but also about the company's process and ways of working such as help with how to manage obligations - this helped to reduce the impact of employee churn;

  • provides vital management tools in the form of real time dashboards providing KPIs and snapshots of compliance status for different areas, identifying areas of risks, areas of over compliance and other data analysis;

  • broadcasts news updates to project teams and project stakeholders;

  • facilitates real time test, voice and video chat between all users;

  • interoperates with Microsoft Windows Server, Outlook / Exchange, Word, Excel, etc;

  • exports data to other applications;

  • imports data manually and automatically from other applications;

  • geolocates everything and can map anything managed by the system - this means that compliance obligations can be viewed geographically which helps to identify synergies and avoid duplication for example where there are overlapping permits with similar compliance obligations;

  • collects real time data from field environmental sensors that is used to provide evidence of compliance or a failure to comply and provide notifications as is appropriate;

  • generates alerts based on significant changes to all affected stakeholders;

  • generates multilingual management reports and distributes as required;

  • could be easily adjusted to adapt to the changing requirements of the projects; and

  • tracks spend on key initiatives.

Due to the changing circumstances of the project and the success of the initial implementation, we were almost immediately asked to extend the system to support a due diligence process covering government permits, environment, social/communities and legal/investment framework. The customer saw our platform as nimble and flexible enough to be quickly adapted to support this due diligence processes. This was also delivered successfully. The software provided a clear audit trail against each source document and individual commitments.

Results

The compliance system we delivered manages compliance with a wide range of areas including mineral rights, environmental and other permits, land access/tenure, audits, government agreements and joint venture agreements. It provides a single place for recording and managing compliance obligations and uses automation to assist users to manage obligations and commitments efficiently and effectively. It also provides real time updates and data analysis about the state of compliance by task/project/area.

For managers and leaders, our software’s real time dashboard of data analytics which provide a powerful snapshot of compliance have proved to be very popular in this project. The compliance system we developed is recognised by the project as a major risk mitigation and collaboration tool.

The system has become a powerful knowledge retention tool which mitigates against the turnover of contractors and staff. Having a cloud based mobile tool allows contractors and subcontractors to easily and securely access safety and other project information without compromising the company’s IT systems.

We are proud to have built a system that allowed stakeholders visibility and ultimately trust that the project teams were doing the right thing legally, contractually, environmentally and socially.

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