When the time comes to retire your spreadsheets and purchase an EHS software system, you’ll want to save as much money as possible. The good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a really effective system. There are plenty of affordable solutions on the market that will meet your needs without busting your budget.
However, saving money on your software purchase requires more than just Googling a list of vendors and booking a handful of demos. You’ll need to spend a little time up front to understand what goes into the cost of EHS software and which features you should prioritize in order to get the best deal. Doing your research could save you tens of thousands of dollars, so in this case it’s well worth the extra effort.
Opt for a standardized system over one that requires extensive customization
The simplest and most effective way to save money when buying EHS software is to choose a standardized “off-the-shelf” system. As the name suggests, off-the-shelf software is ready to use right out of the box.
Unlike customized solutions, a standardized system doesn't require extensive coding — so you can start using it right away without any additional development work. Customization is often the most expensive part of software products, meaning you’ll automatically save money simply by choosing a standardized solution.
However, you still have a lot of control over the look and feel of the system. You can usually configure the software to your needs using administrative controls — similar to how you might change the settings on your smartphone. For example, you can change the reports displayed on your dashboards or set up which notifications you’d like to receive.
Stick to the features you need
Software vendors are notorious for trying to convince customers that they need all the extra features and add-ons. While there are a few extras that can come in handy — like mobile apps — most of the features vendors will try to sell you are impressive but unnecessary for the average company.
Each additional feature will add to the cost but won’t necessarily enhance the software’s value — especially if it’s something only a handful of people will ever use. In fact, too many frills can actually get in the way and hinder your team’s success.
Don’t buy a system with all the bells and whistles when all you need are the basics like task and document management, alerts, and inspections. Instead, stay focused on the problem you’re trying to solve. If you have extra money left over in your budget, you can always add on these extra features later.
When most people think about buying EHS software, they think about a full suite solution that includes safety, environmental management, corporate sustainability, risk, and so on. Naturally, that kind of solution can get expensive.
However, there are small steps companies can take instead of jumping into the deep end right away. Consider starting with just one or two basic modules, such as compliance management and dashboards. You can standardize the way your company collects and manages information, saving time and reducing your risk of being out of compliance. Then, add on additional modules later when you’re ready.
This will help blunt the upfront impact of buying software by spreading out your purchase cost over a few years. Not only that, it will also make it much easier to roll out to your employees since you’re not introducing an entirely new system overnight.
Have the pricing conversation up front
There’s nothing worse than spending weeks or months evaluating a software system that turns out to be too expensive. Unless you have an unlimited budget, it’s wise to research which systems you can afford and stick to that list.
Buying an enterprise software system isn’t like buying a washing machine, though. Systems can vary widely depending on the number of users you have and the features you decide to go with, so you won’t usually find an exact price listed on the vendor’s website. However, you will most likely be able to find some basic pricing information that will give you an indication of whether or not the system deserves a closer look.
Some salespeople will try to put off the pricing conversation as long as possible. That’s not in anyone’s best interest. Instead, discuss the price upfront. This can usually happen right after the initial overview call, after the vendor has asked enough questions to determine if the product is a good fit.
Once you have a good idea of the functionality you need, don’t be afraid to shop around and compare different vendors. Prices can vary wildly between vendors for essentially the same feature set. By shopping around, you could save yourself hundreds or thousands of dollars.
That’s true even if you already own an EHS software system. Switching to a different vendor or even consolidating standalone tools into a single unified platform could help you lower your costs — you never know until you shop around.
…but buy from one vendor
Let’s say you’re in the market for an incident management solution right now. However, in the future you might need a system for audits and inspections. If you purchase these systems separately through two different vendors, it will end up costing you more than if you worked with one company. You’ll also have to deal with two separate service agreements, billing accounts, and customer support teams.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but buying everything from one vendor is often the cheapest (and easiest) option. It’s the same reason many people choose to bundle their home and auto insurance, or their cable and internet.
Even if you’re not looking for a full suite of EHS software tools right now, be sure to ask the vendor what other kinds of solutions they offer. That way you have the option to add on additional functionality if the need arises. Not sure where to start? Read this article to learn three simple ways to get started with EHS software.