End-to-End Reviews: A New Approach to Providing Assurance that a Complex Organisation is Effectively Managing Safety

August 2008

Inge, J.R. and Costello, Capt. G.T. (2008), Proc. 26th International System Safety Conference, Vancouver, BC., Canada. ISBN 0-9721385-8-7.


Audits have long been used as a tool for checking that safety management processes are being followed and system safety principles applied, to provide senior managers with assurance that safe outcomes occur by design and not by luck. In a complex hierarchical organisation, the tendency is for audits to concentrate on safety management systems based on individual units within the hierarchy, rather than the activity of the organisation as a whole. In the UK Ministry of Defence, a new approach to assurance is being tested that looks at the effectiveness of safety management processes end-to-end across the Ministry's shipping activities. This paper describes the end-to-end assurance review framework and the results that have been obtained thus far and argues that the end-to-end framework provides a better basis for provision of assurance than the audit system.