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12 Questions to Ask During an EHS Software Demo

So you've decided to invest in EHS software. Now what?

With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to choose the best vendor for you. 

One of the first steps toward deciding is to request a software demo

The initial "overview" demo is really about establishing a fit between your business problem and the solution available. The demo can help you get to know the software and see it in action. 

Plus (and this is a big plus) it can help you get to know the company and their people. 

Why is that so important? Because choosing a software vendor marks the beginning of a long-term partnership. Finding a vendor who listens and understands your needs and is an EHS subject matter expert is key to success.

Below, you’ll find some questions to guide your demo discussion. Nail that conversation, and you'll be much better equipped to choose the right software for you: 

1. How can this system help solve my EHS challenges? 

During the initial overview demo, you're evaluating vendors to determine which one can solve your problem the easiest and at the lowest price — not which one has the slickest demo with hundreds of features only 20% of your users would use 20% of the time. Instead of focusing on what features you're looking for, try to get into the details of the problems you're trying to solve. 

2. Is it easy to use? 

The easier your software is to use, the easier it is to roll it out to more employees. And the more employees using the system, the more connectivity for your enterprise, dramatically increasing productivity and management transparency. Look for a platform that a wide range of employees with varying skills will be able to use. Truly test the vendor's claims that the system is "user-friendly".

3. What kind of mobile capabilities does this software have? A mobile app with offline capabilities is an essential for users who need to capture data in the field when Wi-Fi isn't available. The app should work on any mobile operating system like iPhone or Android. 

4. How easy is reporting? 

With good software, you should be able to create fully formatted reports in minutes, using real-time data. If you need to create custom reports for water, waste, air, or GHG emissions permit requirements, you should ask whether the software includes a data warehouse tool

5. Is the system self-configurable, without needing to go back to the vendor? 

Avoid a solution that requires too much customization, as it will be time-consuming to implement and get data out of the system. A better alternative is to look for a self-configurable software where you can modify your own dashboards, control permissions for specific users and groups, and create unlimited custom reports without needing to go back to the vendor. 

6. Is it comprehensive and scalable? Can I start with safety and add environmental management later? 

Some vendors will insist that you roll out the entire software from day one. This can drain your resources and overwhelm your employees. Instead, look for a software that can be rolled out in individual modules so you can start small and add on when you're ready.

7. Can this system integrate with our other tools, like Continuous Emissions Monitoring (CEMS) or our ERP system? 

This is an important question if you need to import or export EHS data to other systems. You'll also want to ask if the vendor can import data from your spreadsheets or existing database into the system. 

8. How much does the software cost? Don't waste your time evaluating software that's too expensive for your budget. Ask the vendor about the true cost of ownership, including upgrades, configuration, maintenance, adding additional users or features, and any other fees. The pricing model should be simple and costs should be predictable. 

9. How long does it take to implement, and how much does implementation cost?

Look for a standardized solution that can be implemented quickly with a fixed price implementation, not a custom solution full of uncertainty. As a rule of thumb, implementation should take 30 days or less for a basic system activation and 45-90 days for a comprehensive system. First year implementation fees should not be more than 0.5-1X the annual software fee. If budget is a concern, as whether the system can be self-implemented in order to save money. 

10. Can you help with the budget authorization and business justification process? 

Your software provider will be your partner throughout the purchase and implementation process. Experienced vendors should be able to share a model of anticipated ROI and payback, based on their other clients’ experience. 

11. What kind of training and support do you provide? 

Will you have a dedicated account manager? Is support available by phone and email? Are there different levels of training for different types of users? Are there quick reference guides that you can consult after you're up and running? 

12. Why should we choose you over other EHS software vendors? 

At this point, you may be considering several different vendors. Be open with the vendor and let them know which other solutions you're considering. The vendor should have a good sense of what others in their space are offering and be able to tell you what makes their product different.

Request an EHS software demo

A demo is a two-way street. The software vendor should ask you questions to learn about your needs and requirements. In return, you should prepare questions to ask a potential vendor to be sure you choose the right software for you. Now that you know which questions to ask, click here to get a free customized demo.

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