USB Bochum uses
otris whistleblowing system

Whistleblower system – analogue becomes digital

Many companies and organisations are currently looking at setting up a whistleblower system. The EU Whistleblower Directive and its timely implementation into German law is a major driver. The new legislation does not pose a major challenge for USB Bochum GmbH (USB): the company already implemented a confidential whistleblowing facility years ago. With otris software, USB has now digitised the formerly analogue whistleblowing system. The motivation: a gain in user-friendliness, data security and efficiency.

Whistleblower system - analogue becomes digital

Established reporting channel.
The EU Whistleblower Directive requires companies and organisations to establish a reporting channel that keeps the identity of whistleblowers confidential. Operating a reporting channel is uncharted territory for many companies, especially smaller ones. But not for the USB: several years ago, the company already established a way to anonymously report tips about breaches of rules. Processes and responsibilities for case handling have thus been implemented in the organisation.

Confidential contact.
Among other things, the USB is responsible for city cleaning and waste disposal in Bochum. In addition to the more than 600 employees, the company thus has many other stakeholders: the customers or citizens. “It is important to us that employees and customers have the possibility to inform the USB if there is a suspicion that something is not going correctly. This helps us to intervene at an early stage, to work in accordance with the law and to ensure our high service quality,” explains Carsten Sökeland, Head of Organisational Development, Internal Audit and Compliance. So far, all tips have reached him directly and confidentially: by email, phone call, post or through a personal conversation.

Digital Opportunities
In the wake of the new whistleblower directive, the USB has put its previous system to the test. “With some adjustments, continued operation of our analogue system would have been possible. However, we have seen that the new digital offerings have many advantages, especially in terms of user-friendliness, security and efficiency,” notes Carsten Sökeland. “The otris whistleblowing system convinced us in these three main requirements.”

The new system
Until now, Carsten Sökeland processed incoming tips with Office tools and stored all data locally in the company’s IT infrastructure. After switching to the otris whistleblowing system, the data is now stored on an external high-security server. When Carsten Sökeland accesses the data, it is transmitted end-to-end encrypted. The procedure ensures the legally required confidentiality by technical means: the identity of whistleblowers who wish to report anonymously cannot be traced by the whistleblower due to the external operation of the server. Data of whistleblowers who do not report anonymously or personal data of third parties (e.g. accused person) are protected by encryption algorithms. Additionally relevant from a data protection perspective: All data is stored on servers located in Germany.

„The coherent user guidance and the German server locations convinced us.“

Carsten Sökeland
Staff Unit Organisational Development, Internal Audit & Compliance, USB Bochum GmbH

Case handling
The user-friendliness of a whistleblowing system must be considered from two perspectives: There is the whistleblower, and there is the whistleblower. Making the system as easy to use as possible for the whistleblower was a top priority for the USB. More security and efficiency in case processing (for the whistleblower) were additional, convincing arguments. After all, the new legislation prescribes in minute detail the deadlines within which incoming tips must be answered and processed. The otris whistleblower system simplifies the process through processing workflows and deadline management. Newly received cases, unprocessed cases, upcoming deadlines – the system alerts the responsible officer via email message.

With otris software, the USB has improved its whistleblowing system on three levels: submitting anonymous whistleblowing is now easier, processing is more efficient and data storage and deadline management are more secure. “Working with otris was extremely pleasant – the advice is competent and straightforward,” recalls Carsten Sökeland. “Customisation requests were implemented quickly and accurately, and queries were answered promptly even after implementation.”

About the USB Bochum GmbH.
“Undertaking the future together” – This is the mission statement under which the USB Bochum works for the good of the city and the region. The USB offers its high-quality waste disposal and recycling services in a reliable and customer-oriented manner. Sustainable corporate management ensures a balance between economic goals, environmental protection and social interaction.

Picture credits:
The photos used (banner, quote) were kindly provided by USB Bochum GmbH.