How to Select EHS Software: 8 Things to Think About
EHS software is a powerful tool to help your company save time, reduce risk, and prevent unwanted events.
However, there’s a lot of work that goes into selecting an EHS software system — from screening potential vendors to setting up demos.
A quick Google search will turn up dozens of different software systems, many of which sound the same or similar. So how do you narrow down your options and discern which systems are worth a closer look?
To help streamline your efforts, we’ve created a checklist that can assist you in the software selection process. We’ll walk you through eight of the most important things to think about as you’re creating a shortlist of potential vendors.
Comprehensive & scalable
When shopping for an EHS software system, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the huge number of features to choose from. As a result, many companies — especially small- to mid-sized ones — gravitate toward single-point solutions that solve one specific issue such as inspections, training tracking, or incident management.
While an issue-specific system will solve your immediate problem, if you need to purchase a new tool each time another challenge arises, the benefit of that solution is short-lived. The cost of cobbling together multiple different tools will quickly exceed what you would have spent for a comprehensive system — not to mention the headache of switching between them.
You’re better off choosing an all-in-one system that includes all the different tools an EHS team might use, such as task and document management, audits and inspections, reporting, SDS and chemical management from a single vendor. A comprehensive software organized in modules that can be rolled out individually will allow you to start small and add additional functionality from the same vendor as you grow.
Don’t be fooled by the myth that more expensive means better quality. Otherwise, you may end up paying too much for a product that’s bloated with unnecessary features your team will never use.
Thanks to modern cloud technology, there are affordable solutions on the market that will solve your problem just as well as higher-priced systems. In fact, you can get started with cloud-based EHS software for as little as $5-10K.
Lots of different factors go into the price of a software system (we discuss these in detail here) but a higher price does not necessarily mean better quality. Your best bet is to focus on which vendor can solve your problem the easiest and at the lowest price — not which one has the slickest demo.
In addition, make sure most of the vendor’s fees are a fixed price. This includes fees for configuration, training. maintenance, deployments, and upgrades, to name a few. Runaway costs shouldn’t be the reason you can’t succeed.
We can’t stress enough the importance of choosing a system that can be implemented quickly. The longer it takes to implement new software, the more likely your team will lose interest or even form a negative opinion of the new system. In addition, drawn-out implementations can be a major drain on your IT team, disrupting their day-to-day operations and pulling attention away from other important projects.
Look for a standardized solution that can be up and running quickly with minimal impact on your IT resources. On average, a basic system activation should take 1-2 weeks, while a comprehensive system should take between 30-90 days.
Also, steer clear of systems that require extensive customization. If a system requires lots of custom coding to meet your company’s needs, it will be too time-consuming to implement and get data out of the system. You’re much better off choosing a standardized system that can be configured to your specifications without changing the underlying code.
Easy to use
The best way to ensure widespread user adoption is to choose a system that’s easy to use.
Does it look clean and easy to navigate? Is it laid out in a way that makes sense to the casual user? Can it be accessed from a variety of different devices? Simple, intuitive software will drive higher productivity and better results.
Of course, the opposite is true as well. An overly complicated software can frustrate users and hurt adoption rates. Do your best to avoid these types of systems.
When choosing a software, keep in mind that not everyone will be working from a traditional office. The rise of remote work means that your software system must be flexible enough to work wherever your employees do. Therefore, an EHS software solution with a dedicated mobile app is a must.
Mobile apps allow your team to collect and access data from any location. Anyone with a smartphone or tablet can use it to take measurements and readings, conduct risk assessments, perform maintenance inspections, complete JHA audits, report an accident, trigger tasks and corrective actions, and more.
Additionally, you’ll want to look for an app with offline capability. Having the ability to capture data offline and sync later is tremendously helpful in remote locations where WiFi is not available.
Support & training
Everyone absorbs and processes information in different ways. Some people learn best by watching a tutorial, while others prefer to read a guide, listen to a verbal presentation or recording, or take a more hands-on approach. Using the right training model can help people learn and retain information better, which is especially important when implementing a new software system. Hands-on training, webinars, quick reference guides, and 1-to-1 email are all useful tools to support user adoption. Be sure to find out which types of training the vendor offers.
In addition, different types of users will require different training. A casual user who only accesses the software from time to time won’t need as much in-depth training as an EHS manager who uses the system every day. As a result, many software vendors offer different training models based on the user’s role.
A lot of things go into running a productive business. So in addition to EHS software, your company may use several other types of technology tools. These can include your CEMS, ERP, work order, or financial system—to name a few.
To reap the full benefits EHS software can provide, you need to be able to share data with these other tools. For example, you may want to feed in production data in order to monitor emissions performance related to production throughput. Or, you might want to pull out incident costs and export them to your financial system.
Integrations solve this problem by allowing your different systems to “talk to” one another. Before you sign on the dotted line, check to make sure the software integrates with the other solutions you use. Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time shuffling data from one system to another for analysis and reporting.
Functionality, price, and ease of use are all things to think about when searching for the perfect software system. But before you make your decision, consider one more thing: the vendor’s team.
A great software vendor is a partner, not just a supplier. What’s the difference? A supplier is interested in selling you a product. A partner, on the other hand, is interested in your success. They will guide you through the implementation process to make sure the system meets your needs. And, as you grow, they will help you find new ways to make the most of your EHS software.
When evaluating different software systems, pay close attention to the vendor’s team. Does the vendor have a team of people who are experienced in EHS? Are they invested in your long-term success? These are important things to find out.
Next: Download the free software selection checklist
Investing in EHS software is a big decision, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You want to know that you’re making the best choice for your business. Whether you’re looking to replace your existing system or purchasing EHS software for the first time, these tips will help you do just that.
Click here to download our free software selection checklist, which summarizes the main points from this article. You can save or print this handy PDF and keep it on your desk and refer back to it as you evaluate potential vendors.