This blog introduces you to three BowTieXP functionalities to enhance your bowtie analysis. The reason for this post is that sometimes we see people make bowties for a one-time analysis. Too bad, because you can do much more with it and use bowties to truly manage your barriers. Take your bowtie to the level and see how it works in the software and what’s the methodology behind it.

1 – Barrier families

Once your bowtie is finished and all the barriers are defined, you can start with your barrier analysis. The first thing we usually advise is to check if all your barriers are independent and fully capable to prevent and protect possible damage. This means that each barrier should have a detect, decide and act component. Is the barrier capable to detect the harm, make a decision, and act appropriately?

To give you a true picture of the actual number of independent barriers, we created barrier families. The software allows you to group barriers that depend on each other.

In order to create a barrier family, click on the ‘edit’ icon of a barrier. Under ‘family’, you can create a family name. In the example below, the barrier is fire detection and the family is ‘firefighting system.’ We can add the other barriers, like a fire extinguisher, also to this family.

Once you create the family, it does not immediately visualize the families on your bowtie diagram.

To visualize barrier families, click on the ‘mode’ icon in the toolbar on top and select family. Also see the image below.

Figure 1: How to create a barrier family in BowTieXP

2 – Advanced filter

The advanced filter is very powerful to use for communication and overall barrier analysis. Bowties are commonly used to communicate risks. However, a bowtie can get quite large and maybe not all barriers are relevant to everyone. For example, the bowtie below is about delivering medication via an infusion pump. Different people have different responsibilities in this process, but in this case, we want to highlight the responsibilities of the nurse. Now the nurse can directly see for what barriers she is responsible for.

Besides the communication, this enhances your bowtie analysis by identifying common mode failures. If all barriers on a threat line have the same responsible person, what happens if the nurse leaves the company or has a day off? The competency of the nurse might be reduced and this may affect the barriers.

Figure 2: Analyze and communicate risk, based on accountability

Take the next steps to use the Advanced filter to highlight barriers based on job titles. First, all barriers need to have a job title linked to it. Look in the treeview for the job title you want to display on your bowtie and right-click on it to select ‘Add to diagram filter’.

The slider allows you to decide how much of the filter you want to show: 

3- Display profiles

In BowTieXP, it is possible to link data to any bowtie element (threats, barriers etc), but it does not necessarily show this data in the bowtie. You can use the eye-icon to visualize what you want to show. Instead of manually deciding what you would like to see, it is possible to create a profile that displays the data in one click. We call this display profiles.

In the toolbar on top you find this icon: 

This allows you to create a display profile by right clicking on ‘case file’. Once you name the display profile, you are able to edit the profile to select what you want to show. You can now select your profile in the drop-down menu in the toolbar. Like in the picture below. One tip: Add a diagram filter to hide all the data on bowtie elements to easily clear the diagram.

Figure 3: Select a display profile to only show relevant information on your bowtie

This enhances your bowtie analysis by easily seeing the linkable data and find the relationship between the linked data. Do barrier types (indicating if barriers are human-related, hardware related or a combination of both) and effectiveness relate to each other? And what risk-based decisions can we make based on this information?

Curious to find out about other options that might improve your BowTieXP analysis? We’re happy to assist you.