“Analytics” and “big data” have been huge buzzwords over the last decade, and they’re not going away anytime soon.
A whopping 94% of companies say that data and analytics are important to their business growth and digital transformation in 2020, according to MicroStrategy’s 2020 Global State of Enterprise Analytics Report.
Consequently, the demand for professionals who can analyze, understand, and act on data is greater than ever before. As an EHS professional, honing your analytics skills is a great way to advance your career and do your job more effectively.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just dipping your toe in, this guide will explain what EHS analytics is and how to get started using it.
What is EHS analytics?
EHS analytics is a powerful tool that can help you learn more about your company’s safety and environmental performance, and use that information to make improvements. It’s all about looking at trends and patterns in EHS data like injury rates, inspection findings, resource usage, and much more. It’s also about applying that information to make business decisions.
How to get started with EHS analytics
1. Read about big data and analytics
If you’re new to using analytics — or if you want to brush up on the basics — here are a few good articles to get you started:
- How Big Data is Changing EHS Management
- What is a Data Dashboard?
- 5 Ways to Get More from Your EHS Data
- The Advantages of Real-Time Data Analytics
- How to Create an Effective EHS Big Data Strategy
- How Human Insight Helps Make Sense of Big Data
2. Choose an analytics tool
There are a huge number of analytics tools on the market. Some are built for general business analytics, while others are designed specifically for EHS. In somes cases, analytics tools are built in to EHS management software.
Selecting the best analytics tool for your needs isn't always easy. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a solution:
- Intuitive: Designed for everyday users, not data scientists
- Integrated with your EHS data management system: Not a standalone system
- Cloud-based: Share data across your organization in real-time
- Mobile-friendly: Access your data on the go
- Configurable: Build custom dashboard views for specific groups or users and control access to sensitive information
3. Decide what to track
If you’re like most companies, you’re probably already sitting on a goldmine of data. But trying to analyze too many data points can leave you confused and overwhelmed. In fact, analytics is most useful when you only focus on a small number of key metrics that relate to your business goals.
For example, if one of your business goals is to reduce your carbon footprint, you’ll probably want to track things like electricity usage, energy mix, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Here’s another example: let’s say your goal is to reduce the number of on-the-job injuries. You’ll probably want to track things like days away from work, type of incident, and root cause.
4. Set up a basic dashboard view
You can read about analytics all day, but one of the best ways to really understand it is to jump in. Once you set up your first dashboard and start playing around with the various display and filtering options, you’ll get a good feel for what kinds of insights your data can provide.
As you look at the data, you’ll probably start to notice some trends and patterns. For example, you might notice that most of the injuries in your company happen at one particular location. You’ll use this information later to help you understand why that’s happening, but for now, understanding what’s happening in your business is a good first step.
Related: How to create a dashboard
5. Answer business questions
Once you have a basic handle on your key metrics and dashboards, you can start using your data to answer questions and make decisions.
Let's say you're developing your training budget for the upcoming year. As you start thinking about training needs and opportunities, many questions will come up. You might be asking, "How well is our current training program working?" Or, "Which teams or locations need extra support?"
Instead of relying on guesswork or gut feeling, you can turn to your data for answers. With a good analytics tool in place, you’ll be able to better interpret what your data is telling you so that you can make informed and effective decisions.
6. Use analytics to predict future problems and opportunities
In addition to answering questions about what happened, where, why, and how often, analytics can help answer questions about what might happen in the future. This is called predictive analytics.
For example, a manufacturer might study patterns in production data to identify equipment failures and maintenance problems. They can use this information to predict future issues and optimize maintenance schedules to avoid unnecessary downtime.
In this way, analytics can help you not only understand what’s happening in your business and why, but also what’s likely to happen in the future.
Your next steps
The more you understand about your business’ safety and environmental performance, the better you can improve it going forward. By using EHS analytics, you’ll be in a better position to tackle the challenges and opportunities that arise. Next: are you really ready for predictive analytics?