You may be a new manager of others – leading a small team and you are always stressed about that one process your team is managing.
Stress about making a mistake in that process that would have a severe impact in the business.
If you want to learn how to mitigate the issues before they happen,
I show you here step by step how to perform a four eyes check and anticipate issues before they become a headache.
How to perform a four eyes check
When issues happen,
it is common to hear from the person in charge statements such as:
“We are putting in place all the relevant actions to make sure the same mistake does not happen again”.
The four-eyes check is one of the main go-to relevant actions to anticipate mistakes and make sure the same exact issue does not reoccur in the future.
we need to understand what the four-eyes check process is about.
What is the 4-eyes review process?
The four eyes principle is a process whose ultimate purpose is to identify mistakes in a very early stage before they become a threat to the business.
For implementing a 4 eyes check, the requirement is that two individuals approve some action before it can be finalized.
The four eyes principles can be recognized as well as the 2 people rule or the 2-man-rule.
Which are the 4 eyes principle?
The 3 main principles for a successful four eyes check:
Two people are -at least- needed to effectively perform a 4 eyes check.
These two people would have very different roles.
First-person would be responsible to perform a certain action (ie: maintain the price for material in the system)
The second person would be responsible to validate the action was performed correctly.
Discipline in the execution.
Ideally, the 4 eyes check should be performed in the shortest time horizon – at the very latest within the same day.
If possible, the actions should be consecutive. One after the other.
Building on the example of the maintenance of price for the material.
First-person maintains the price of the material in the system and gives heads-up to the second person.
The second person validates that the price in the system is correct.
The validations as a result of the 4 eyes check should be documented for future reference.
The four-eyes process is not a bulletproof process,
there is still certainly room for mistakes.
Effective documentation – in case of a mistake – will allow you to effectively root cause what happened and drive the continuous improvement in your 4 eyes to check the process.
The importance of the four eyes principles in the organizations
The four eyes principle tends to be applied very late in organizations.
To put it in other words,
the four eyes’ checks come as a result of a root cause analysis when a mistake already happened.
If you want to learn more about how to effectively perform a root cause analysis – read more here.
How do you apply the principle of four eyes in your organization?
Now that you know what the four eyes check is about,
you may wonder in which processes you can implement such checks.
I would refer here to Pareto – 80/20.
Which are the 20% of your processes impacting the 80% of the business?
Step by step on how to perform the four eyes check in any organization in any industry
- Identify the 20% of the processes impacting 80% of the business
Define the list of processes that are critical for your business.
Those processes that if you take the mistakes nearly to zero – you and your team would be successful in the assignment.
- Define two groups of people. Group #1 and Group #2
Group #1 is responsible to execute the actions and group #2 is responsible to validate the accuracy of what Group #1 did.
To keep your teams motivated,
you may want to consider swapping the responsibilities between Group #1 and Group #2 on a certain time frequency basis – for example monthly.
- Document the result of the validation.
When possible, download the result of the validation into an excel file and send it over to a common email group.
This will allow you to monitor the four-eyes check process is being executed with discipline and if an issue arises in the future, you will be able to understand why it happened and close the potential gaps within you four eyes process
- Continuous improvement
Start small, think big.
A small step is still a step.
Consistently challenge if the four eyes process can be simplified, automated, or improved.
If something is being done manually, consider if it could be automated.
A VBA Macro tool, an automatic rule in Outlook, a logic in Microsoft flow … chances to automate and simplify are endless.
I bring you below some examples from different industries when the four eyes check principles are applied.
Example of processes where to apply the four eyes check
The four-eyes check tends to be considered only as finance related process,
the reality is that the four-eyes check can be applied in every industry where there is a risk of impacting the business.
Let’s see below examples from different industries when to apply a four-eyes check.
AML – Know your customer (KYC)
KYC is the key process – within the Anti-Money Laundering strategy – responsible to verify the identity of a customer prior to operating with him/her. The goal of the KYC is to avoid any anti-money laundering operations.
How the four eyes check works in practice in KYC.
There are two people involved.
The analyst and the checker.
The analyst would be responsible to perform the primary analysis and conclude if the customer passed the “test” – meaning it is safe to cooperate with this customer without
The checker, a more experience analysis,
would validate the job done by the analyst and conclude if the analysis was performed correctly.
If yes – it is good to go.
If not – a new analysis needs to be performed to conclude if it is or it is not good to go.
Banking – Money transfers
In the banking industry – transferring money from one place to another is the industry’s bread and butter.
with the number of transfers that take place every day, there is always a certain risk due to manual mistakes of transferring the wrong amount (or transferring the correct amount to the wrong recipient.)
The 4 eyes check principle would considerably support reducing the risk behind money transfers.
How can you reduce your risk within the banking industry?
Implementing two user groups.
The first user group is responsible for initiating the payment.
The second user group is responsible for validating the payments and signing them.
Supply Chain – Master Data in the FMCG industry
In the FMCG industry,
the ultimate target is to ship a product to a customer.
When you think about a product, you can think about a diaper, a shampoo … you name it!
Anything that you use on a day-to-day basis.
For these products to be shipped,
the correct master data needs to be maintained in the system.
Examples of Master Data?
Address of customers, Status of materials, Prices of products … all these parameters need to be correctly maintained in the system for a correct shipment of the product.
How to use four eyes check in the master data process?
Option #1 Manually
Two people are needed. Person A and Person B
Person A would perform the actions in the system would update and Person
Option #2 Automated
Only one person is needed. Person A
Person A would perform the action in the system and would download the report from the system.
With this report would run a VBA Macro tool that would validate that all actions were performed as expected and send over an email confirming that all is ok.
If you don’t know what VBA Macros are, and you are curious and you want to learn how to use VBA Macros to make your life easier, click here.
If you know how to program your own VBA Macro tools,
I will strongly recommend you go for Option #2.
FAQ 4 eyes check
From where does the 4 eyes checks expression come?
The 4 eyes check expression is coming from the fact that at least, 2 people are needed to perform the check.
Simple math – each person has two eyes, thus 4 eyes (2 people) are needed.
What does the 4 eyes check mean?
The 4 eyes check means two different people perform a validation confirming all is okay and done as expected.
Shall I implement 4 eyes check for every work process?
No, you should not implement 4 eyes check for every work process.
You should implement 4 eyes check for those processes that would bring major risk to the organization.
Example: For money transfers below $10K you may not need 4 eyes to check; however, you may want to implement for transfers above $10K
Why perform 4 eyes checks?
The main reason to perform a 4 eyes check is to anticipate issues that could have a business impact in the future.
For example, maintaining the wrong price for 1000 products will have a financial impact in the moment of delivering orders to the customers.
With the consequent rework in terms of correcting the master day, amending invoices, and explaining the situation to the customer.