In Auckland New Zealand, Cornerstone Industry Training provides accredited training courses in the use of safe, effective and responsible agrichemical spraying. FileMaker Pro now helps the company automate the compliance process by consolidating information into one depository and eliminate paper based files.Meeting Compliance Requirements and Business survival in an Ever-Changing World
Meeting compliance requirements is integral to the success of any business. With regulations changing daily, it’s important for companies to have systems in place to enable flexibility and access to data ensuring they comply with the new regulations placed upon them.
Some companies opt for evasion over compliance because they feel it’s easier. In reality it’s not - in the short or long term. With a raft of regulations that must be adhered to it’s important for any small or large business to ensure they comply. Manual systems are very cumbersome and many hours are lost in a day through paper shuffling. With a lot of repetition in the compliance process, there’s plenty of room for improvement using automated systems. In the last few years we have seen a progressive move from manual to automated systems.
Automated systems help businesses minimise the risk of breeching compliance regulations. With periodic reporting required, automated systems consolidate the information into one central depository for easy reporting and auditing requirements.
Companies need to recognise and respect the need for taxation and that includes the realities and responsibilities of individual and company compliance. However it’s also important not to become obsessed like some companies do. Management of compliance should not take over the running of a business. It’s important for each business to focus on its core business and what it does best, with compliance being just one component of managing a business.
A case in point is Cornerstone Industry Training (www.cornerstoneit.co.nz) in Auckland, New Zealand, that provides accredited training courses in the use of safe, effective and responsible agrichemical spraying. With over 15,000 students and close to 100 staff, the training facility needs to manage a multitude of administrative processes so the students can become certified. In order to meet agrichemical certification requirements, Cornerstone must comply with established legislation and under the direction of the New Zealand Agrichemical Education Trust.
Cornerstone’s agrichemical spraying accredited training consists of a 30 page Safety Plan – a formal document that includes a wide range of data covering chemicals on-site, their hazard classifications, important safe chemical handling information, and local authority contact and client details – each of which are customised for each client. Originally this document was based in a Word template, meaning that changes were required to the template for each new client. In addition, Cornerstone has to submit its results to an external organisation in order to gain the authority to certify clients in the use of agrichemical spraying. This was achieved through a time consuming process of copying and pasting data entry material.
Due to the rapid company growth, Cornerstone needed to source a better and more powerful system that allowed the business to run as efficiently as possible and enable seven to eight users to access data at any one time. A key priority for Cornerstone was for the system to manage the compliance process and store all the required information in a depository for easy access throughout the onerous reporting periods.
At that time, recording systems were based on Word, Excel and legacy FileMaker files that resulted in reams of paper and it took more time than necessary to get jobs done due to the double and triple-handling of each function. The team was wasting hours each day paper-shuffling, time that could be spent on course or business development.
Cornerstone soon realised its expanding paper-based files would not be an effective long term data management solution. The paper-based processes were error prone, time-consuming and bulky. Administration was becoming increasingly difficult to manage as the company grew. Staff were also experiencing difficulty in finding compliance reporting and student information in a timely manner.
In early 2005, the agrichemical training facility saw the potential for improving its paper-based system with a database solution that would streamline and automate many of the processes currently in place. The company also needed to ensure the system chosen would adapt to a rapidly changing market by meeting the specific compliance and regulatory standards in the agrichemical industry.
Cornerstone approached FileMaker developer Matthew Roscoe of Foundation Business Software to develop a solution that would streamline and centralise information gathered and stored by Cornerstone. The solution developed was Squirt – a user-friendly system based on FileMaker Pro that provides the company with exceptional data management capabilities.
The new system addressed all of the company’s key requirements. Cornerstone was able to rescue data from old FileMaker and Microsoft files and turn them into a manageable database with one point of access for all company information. It is now able to create and update courses, and manage student enrolments easily. Finally, automated correspondence and forms can be created; allowing users to email Portable Document Formats (PDFs) direct from FileMaker. Above all, Cornerstone has an easy-to-use system that manages all the compliance and reporting requirements in accordance with the relevant legislation and the New Zealand Agrichemical Education Trust.
Meeting compliance standards is also now an easy task through the Squirt system. For a start, the Safety Plans are complied with and archived in accordance with guidelines. In addition, the Squirt system allows for Cornerstone to prepare the accredited certificates for students without having to go to the authority to obtain official certificate numbers. Now, Squirt automatically generates the certificate numbers which are then exported into an Excel spreadsheet and periodically emailed to the authority to meet the regulatory requirements.
Automated compliance process and consolidates information into one depository
Eliminates paper-based files – a process that was cumbersome, prone to errors and usable by only one person at a time.
Multiple usage – the structure has streamlined administrative systems for the training facility and allows several staff to access data at any one time to create, book and manage course records
Compliance legislation – compiles, archives and prints Safety Plans (PDF files) including agrichemicals data (2200 unique plans have been printed in the past 8 months)
Visual and intuitive design – pre-defined fields make data entry easy and accurate
Quality management and highly interactive processes – introducing Process Control as a management discipline
Attachments – prints certificates that automatically submit details to the local authority via email
Remote access – for Trainers and Certifiers to access course records
Funding management, assessment and reporting
Security-controlled external access to third parties.
“Being a rapidly changing market, and dealing with government authorities that have some very specific compliance requirements, we have some specific business processes. Key benefits for us have been the ability to submit certificates to the authority automatically through email and compile, report and print our Safety Plans”
Tony Thompson, General Manager of Cornerstone Industry Training
+64 7 579 6012