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The #1 Reason EHS Software Implementations Fail (And What To Do About It)

When EHS software implementations flop, everyone’s quick to point fingers.

Managers blame employees for refusing to use the software. Employees blame managers for a lack of communication. Companies blame vendors for failing to deliver on their promises.

However, the most common reason why EHS software implementations fail has nothing to do with any of those things.

Many of our customers come to us after experiencing a failed software implementation, and in working with these customers we’ve observed one key thing that separates successful implementations from spectacular failures.

Once you understand this one thing, you’ll be in a much better position to ensure the success of your EHS software project.

Complex software is to blame

The biggest reason software implementations fail is because the product is too complex.

When you’re shopping for EHS software, it’s tempting to go out and buy the product with the slickest demo and the most features.

However, the more bells and whistles a software has, the more complex it becomes. And the more complex a software is, the harder it is to use.

Pretty soon, the tool that was supposed to simplify your EHS processes has become an enormous, time-consuming headache. So how do you avoid this problem in the first place?

Focus on the user — not on features

Most EHS software is designed for use by a handful of EHS people who will be highly trained on how to use the system.

It’s not designed for executives who need a quick snapshot of safety performance, facility managers who need to complete an audit, or factory workers who need to capture a near-miss observation. Yet, those are exactly the people who will be using the product.

According to Verdantix, over half of companies are planning for widespread usage of EHS software in 2019. That’s a good thing, but it also means buyers need to take these users into consideration when choosing software.

Rather than choosing the software with the most features and functionality, buyers should focus on the lowest common denominator: the casual user.

Why? Because it doesn’t really matter how many fancy features your software has if your employees won’t use it.

You’re much better off choosing a simple system that does the basics — like tracking deadlines and documents, alerting you when something needs your attention, creating reports. Once your team is comfortable, then it's time to consider adding more features and workflows. (A modular software system like Perillon will allow you to start small and add on additional features as you go.)

Keep it simple

Before we go any further, let’s be clear: just because software is “simple” doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. In fact, simple software can be incredibly powerful.

Imagine if you could see all your documents, tasks, and deadlines in one place and get notified when something needs your attention. Or, if you could create fully formatted regulatory reports in minutes using real-time data. It’s all possible with a simple, user-friendly software.

Not only that, but the simpler the software, the easier it is to implement. A software with hundreds of features, on the other hand, will need a great deal of configuration before it can be rolled out to users.

It’s not uncommon for complex software implementations to drag on for months or years. When this happens, your software project loses momentum. Seasons change. Other projects come up. People lose interest in the product. Before long, your software implementation has stalled or failed completely.

Only buy the features you’ll actually use

Even among moderately priced software, there are a dizzying number of features to choose from — and the more extras you add, the more the price goes up. These features can be tempting since they look super slick during a demo, but you’ll probably find that they go unused most of the time.

So which features do you actually need? The answer, of course, depends on the problem you’re trying to solve and your budget. A good vendor will work with you to determine which features you should consider — and which ones to skip.

Chances are, you won’t even notice those other options are missing. What you will notice, though, is a significant difference in the cost of your EHS software.

By eliminating “feature bloat”, you may be able to save tens of thousands of dollars and invest that money on safety training or new PPE instead.

Your takeaway

Overly complex software is the most common reason EHS software implementations fail. By focusing on the user, keeping things simple, and only selecting the features you’ll actually use, you can set yourself up for a successful EHS software implementation. To learn more, check out this article on the 5 things to look for in an implementation program.

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