The SMP Alliance and Passport

A conversation with Thomas George

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your role?

I work for the SMP Alliance as the Health, Safety and Wellbeing (HSW) Delivery Lead. I’ve been in highways for about 14 years; I started off in 2008 as a grad and have worked in highways continually – except for 18 months in tunnelling, which was just a bit too dark for me! Passport is integral to our levelling up agenda within our Home Safe and Well strategy because the Alliance is working to ensure we have a joined-up, consistent approach to how we use the system. We’ll use it for more than swipes, we’re using it to drive true benefits in enabling a host of functions, such as training, briefings and onboarding.

And the SMP Alliance?

The SMP Alliance is made up of seven member businesses acting as one, all working together to deliver the rollout of the smart motorways programme. This unique partnership is truly groundbreaking within the construction industry, embracing collaborative working, from all the partners and the support of an outstanding Supplier Network. Quite simply, we’re focused on building better, together. To align with the Alliance model, we’ve worked with Reference Point to set up Passport under an Alliance umbrella to truly unlock the opportunity. Passport will unleash opportunities to deliver a more systematic approach to our work. When our people come onto the Alliance, they carry their Passport – which has all their information in one centralised place – avoiding duplication between workplaces, aligning our approach between partners and ensuring we’re efficient and effective in what we do. We don’t have to worry about where they’ve been. They swipe on, and we can link with them – it’s that easy.

What do you think about Passport?

Personally, I think it’s a really good system. It has a lot of great capabilities. The more I’ve used it, the more I’m a fan of it. Here are the benefits as I see them:

  • Accountability: In the past, the onus was on the projects/schemes to manage workers, but with Passport, it puts the responsibility on employers.
  • Collective: Because it’s industrywide, you don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel.
  • Bringing HSW in line with the digital era: In the past, companies that didn’t have their own systems sent everything through via paper copies or email – with Passport, there’s a copy that goes from scheme to scheme.
  • It’s efficient: Workers don’t have to keep proving what they’ve done. If they can prove it, they don’t have to do it again.
  • Time, carbon, travel, administrative duties etc. Lots of time saved – it’s very quick.
  • Real-time data: With daily briefings, you can see all the briefings a worker has had, and they’re all time-stamped.

Which specific feature is most valuable to you?

The one feature that’s most valuable to us is that everything is in one place, and everyone is using the one system. For the SMP Alliance, Passport is the go-to system for competence management, and the fact it exists in this way is a massive benefit – driving efficiency, consistency and ensuring a robust approach.

What is the SMP Alliance’s approach to Passport?

Our approach is simple – use Passport holistically to realise benefits. We have a rollout plan, and we’re getting more people on Passport. This includes setting clear expectations, setting people up for success and ensuring that we provide feedback and consistent communication on our progress. We’re phasing this over about eight months, gradually introducing the features to ensure everyone is 100% confident in the applications before moving on to the next function. We’re seeing a big increase in numbers. In January 2022, we were looking at single-figure swipes; now, we’re hitting four figures each month. We’re planning on that number increasing significantly. We’re giving everyone ample time, support and opportunity, but ultimately we want everyone to use the system for the benefits it provides. There will come a time, later this year, when we say, ‘Right, that’s it, no card means no coming on site.’

What advice would you give to other organisations rolling Passport out?

If you’re rolling Passport out, make sure you understand Passport and what it can do. That way, when you’re selling it, you believe in it. Know how it will benefit your organisation and why you want to use it. Make sure it’s set up properly and can provide support for the people at the right time for those who need it. It’s an opportunity we’ll use to the full. Passport is a crucial tool to help us create more opportunities to deliver vital work efficiently. It reduces the administrative burden and frees up time to focus on other aspects of HSW whilst assuring our people have the essential requirements to do their role.