Automated incident reporting transforms loss prevention. Timely, complete, and transparent communication is the linchpin of effective store operations and loss prevention (LP). Incident Reports are especially critical communications that allow operations, LP and other functions to provide assistance to stores when needed. Incident reports must be automated, immediate, simple, and require all critical data. The reports must be archived with reporting and analysis tools available to leverage the accumulated data.
Integration of the incident reporting system with e-mail is critical. Immediate notification of incidents appearing on the computers and/or mobile devices of the support and management teams is important for several reasons. A truly significant incident may require immediate corporate response. Any incident report may prompt questions from the recipient. Given the varied work schedules of retail employees, knowing that they are at the store when the report is received supports immediate resolution of any questions. We’ve all experienced the wasted time and frustration of calling a location only to find out that the person submitting an incident report is not scheduled at work and will not be for several days.
When I led the formation of an internal loss prevention function at a $500 million publicly-held fashion company, the first process we automated was incident reporting. The program included 15 unique incident types with on-line forms targeted to gather the critical and relevant information for each incident type and a distribution list assigned by both incident type (e.g., corporate insurance receives all incidents related to property damage and non-employee injuries) and location (e.g., DMs ang loss prevention get all reports for their stores). The immediacy of the information flows utilizing a web-based reporting system versus the prior fax process and then e-mail process not only significantly reduced the administration associated with distributing incident reports, but more importantly it set the tone that the new processes and related services to the store were going to be dramatically more timely and responsive. We then delivered on this expectation as we rolled out self-audits/DM audits, cycle counts, sales audit, physical inventory testing and other loss prevention tools. Incident reports usually represent a stores’ first cry for help. We therefore felt this was the first and most important process to get right.
Beyond immediate and healthy communication, e-mail distribution and on-line storage/reporting drives accountability. Often a loss prevention investigation will identify unreported incidents. Had these incidents been reported, the issue may have come to light or additional resources brought in to investigate earlier, reducing loss. This becomes a training moment for that store, others in that district, and perhaps the entire chain to reinforce the need to communicate all incidents that occur to support effective analysis targeted to improve operations, working conditions and/or reduce loss. Robust incident reporting provides data that may identify not only store issues but district or chain-wide issues.
Incident reporting is the cornerstone of effective communication and related analysis and actions to protect customers, employees and assets. An incident reporting program creates a communications ecosystems supporting collaboration, early detection, and the feeling of connection to the wider organization among the stores and local offices. Facilitating communication and connection using an effective incident reporting program is a critical element to leveraging compliance.
About the Author
Glenn Murphy, the co-founder of BestGRC and founder of GRC Management Consulting, primarily focuses on empowering entities to leverage their compliance activities through the BestGRC “cloud” software, his consulting work, publications and the “Leverage Compliance” blog. Find Glenn’s full profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/glenntmurphy/ , follow him @GlennMurphyGRC and subscribe to the Leverage Compliance blog at http://www.bestgrc.com/blog/