EHS management blog


5 Myths About Custom EHS Software

Many people start out thinking they want to build a custom EHS software system, but ultimately end up buying an off-the-shelf solution or working with a vendor to configure a software system that’s already been built.

That’s because there’s a huge amount of misinformation about the process and experience of building a custom software system. Below, we’ll debunk five of the most common myths about custom EHS software to save you from serious headaches down the road.

Myth #1: A custom system will be able to meet our needs better than an out-of-the-box solution

This is by far the most common myth we hear when it comes to custom software. The reality is that with so many different products on the market, there is no need to build a custom system.

Here’s another way to think about it: Let’s say you’re in search of a new email program. You wouldn’t burden your IT team with building a new product when ready-made solutions like Microsoft Outlook, Gmail for Business, Zimbra, and dozens of others are already available. In the same way, EHS software has been around long enough that "reinventing the wheel" just isn’t necessary. If you can find an off-the-shelf solution that meets your needs, you can save tens of thousands of dollars.

Myth #2: Commercial software is expensive! We can build our own system for the same cost

There are actually two parts to this myth, so we'll address them individually. First, commercial software isn’t expensive. In fact, at Perillon we offer affordable solutions starting at under $10K. Regardless of your budget, there is an off-the-shelf solution that can meet your needs.

Second, people tend to underestimate the cost of building custom software. Even experienced development firms get it wrong. That’s because custom software projects are filled with uncertainty. Priorities change, technology problems pop up, and tasks take longer than anticipated — which can lead to some nasty surprises. On average, homegrown software projects overrun their budget by 191%, according to Standish Group.

Myth #3: Our in-house IT team can build an EHS software system for us

Developing a software application requires a very specialized skillset. Many IT teams approach a software project optimistically but later discover they don’t have the knowledge to complete it in-house. When that happens, they end up having to bring in outside engineers, programmers, or UX experts, which can quickly skyrocket the cost of the project.

Even if you do have the development chops in-house, most IT teams are already overburdened. They can barely find the time to respond to support tickets, much less spend hundreds of hours developing and testing a custom application.

But don’t take our word for it: A study by software development firm Geneca found that three out of four IT executives expect their software project to end in failure. That’s not exactly a vote of confidence.

Myth #4: Keeping our data on-premise will be more secure

Here’s another one that grinds our gears: Many people mistakenly believe that storing data on their own servers will be safer than using a cloud-based solution. Unfortunately, that's a bit like believing your money is safer under your mattress than in the bank. Most homeowners simply can't afford the level of security and protection that a bank can offer. Likewise, most mid-sized companies simply don't have the resources to provide the level of security that reputable software providers can offer.

Myth #5: The most successful companies build their own software

Software is not a status symbol. Yet there’s a bizarre myth in the technology industry that having a custom software system will make your company appear more successful. (It’s the same tactic used car salesmen employ to convince men that shelling out money for an expensive sports car will make them more attractive to women.)

All you have to do is look at the companies that are using commercial EHS software systems to see that this is a myth. Successful companies from mom-and-pop operations all the way up to Fortune 500 companies are using off-the-shelf solutions for their EHS processes.

Your takeaway

In the end, most companies find that buying a commercial solution ends up being much faster, more affordable, and does a better job of meeting their requirements than a custom solution. To learn more, download our free guide to homegrown vs. off-the-shelf EHS software.

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