Where is that tap?

Fortis records managementHere is the latest example of poor records keeping, and associated costs, as it happened last week in the area where I live – Ruptured Line not on maps: Fortis. In short – an excavator ruptured natural gas line, which resulted in evacuation of whole neighborhood, organizing and transporting residents to temporary locations, closed businesses, rerouting traffic, full presence of police, fire and rescue services. It took a while for Fortis – natural gas provider, to locate the leak and cut off the supply. Contractor was not at fault here – before digging, they checked with Fortis if there were any pipes in the area. After the fact, Fortis stated that the pipe was more than 40 years old and was not indicated on the map. I am afraid that in reality the pipe was on a map, as it was supplying gas to a building that does not exist anymore. Rather the problem was that Fortis was not able to locate the latest version of the map, and they based their excavations approval on outdated records.

The positive side of this event is that it should be fairly easy for Fortis to develop and approve business case for an improved records management system. One of the biggest problems facing implementation of information management projects is that they are always low priority, due to the intangibility of most of the benefits and risks. There is always something more important generating revenues. Documents and records management are mostly perceived as cost centers – until accidents like this happen. Fortunately in this case there was no further damage and nobody was injured. But definitely this is an opportunity to quantify the costs and risks in the business case and get the problem fixed. In this case – these will be the costs of the emergency services, evacuation, investigation, and problem rectifying and so on. Safety, Health and Environment risks will come on the top of priorities and let’s not forget about reputational risks – protecting the public trust, and the organization in litigation, would one follow. One door closes, another opens….

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