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Why Most EHS Software is Overkill (And What to Do Instead)

There's a recurring horror story in the EHS software world, and it goes something like this: 

A company invests $100,000 in an EHS software system. 

In that system, there are hundreds of impressive features. These features take months to set up and customize to the company's specifications. As the software vendor's team works, invoices start rolling in for "extra" implementation services. 

Months later, it's finally time to roll the software out to the company's employees. Just navigating the system is enough to make heads spin. What does that button do? Where are my files? Getting data out of the system is time-consuming. Even after months of costly training, all but the most tech-savvy employees are struggling to use the system. 

It's not long before everyone reverts back to their spreadsheets and paper files and the expensive software sits around gathering dust. 

Having been on the front lines of EHS, environmental consulting firms, and enterprise software for decades, we've seen this story play out over and over. It's our mission to make sure it never happens again.

So why do companies fall into this trap in the first place? And what can you do to avoid being the next victim?

The problem with most EHS software systems

Take a look at most EHS software systems, and you'll notice they have several things in common:

  • they're designed with huge global enterprises in mind 
  • they're jam-packed with fancy features and functionality
  • they're endlessly customizable
  • they look super slick
  • they're expensive

And for mid-size companies, they're a disaster waiting to happen. 

So, what's the alternative?

The whole point of an EHS software system is to make your life easier. To do that, you need a system that's powerful enough to handle the tasks you need yet simple enough to learn and implement quickly.

When you're just starting out, the last thing you need is a complicated custom system loaded with features. 

Often, a simple system that does the basics -- tracking deadlines and documents, alerting you when something needs your attention, creating reports -- is enough.

You see, the purpose of your initial implementation is to introduce a few key features, build confidence, and gather momentum. 

You're just looking to score some quick wins. Don't expect your entire organization to adopt a totally new system all at once. (It may happen, but it's a turnoff if you push for it.)

Once your team is comfortable, then it's time to consider adding more features and workflows. A modular software system allows you to roll out individual features in a matter of days.

Your takeaway

During the initial demo, focus on which vendor can solve your problem the easiest and at the lowest price — not which one has the slickest demo with hundreds of features only 20% of your users would use 20% of the time.

Look for a system that is:

  • easy to use
  • quick to implement
  • affordable
  • flexible enough to grow with you

Resist the temptation to fall for fancy custom solutions, and keep it simple. Your team will thank you. 

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