Whether you’ve just heard about EHS software and are curious to learn more about it, or need some help finding the best software for your organization, you’ve come to the right place.
Here at Perillon, we want to provide you with the tools to save time, reduce risk, and prevent unwanted events — but we also want to be an indispensable resource to get you there.
By the end of this guide, you'll know what EHS software does, how it can help your business, and how to choose the right EHS software for your needs. Read along, bookmark it for later, or click one of the links in the table of contents to jump to a section.
Table of Contents
- What is EHS software?
- What does EHS software do?
- What are the benefits of EHS software?
- Does my company need EHS software?
- How much does EHS software cost?
- What is the ROI of EHS software?
- What should I look for in an EHS software solution?
- How do I choose a vendor?
- How is Perillon different?
- Next steps
(If you're looking for information about Perillon's solutions specifically, visit our EHS management software page.)
What is EHS software?
Environmental, health, and safety (EHS) software is a technology companies use to manage all their regulatory compliance, enterprise risk, and corporate sustainability data and activities. An EHS software system helps companies save time, reduce risk, and prevent unwanted events.
Using EHS software is an efficient way to connect thousands of employees across your organization — from factory supervisors to C-level executives — and organize their documents, activities, and metrics into one centralized system.
What does EHS software do?
EHS software starts by collecting all your data, tasks, documents, and permits in a centralized database. It may also pull in information from your other systems, such as CEMs, financial, or production data. You can even go one step further by using mobile devices to capture critical information at the source.
The software then organizes all this information into powerful dashboards to give you a complete picture of your company's performance in real time and share it with need-to-know employees.
In addition to collecting and managing data, software can automate administrative tasks like providing alerts and notifications, following up on assigned tasks, triggering corrective or preventive actions, and generating reports.
With these tasks off your plate, you're free to focus on more valuable activities. Built-in intelligence helps you understand trends and performance better, so you can make proactive decisions.
What are the benefits of EHS software?
The benefit of EHS software is having all your data and activities under one roof.
At most companies, critical EHS knowledge is stored across many different locations — in spreadsheets, databases, paper records, or people's heads.
It's difficult to locate information quickly when you need it for an audit or regulatory report. Your team spends hours combing through data, correcting errors and manually entering records.
When employees quit or retire, they take critical knowledge with them. Every time someone leaves, you end up spending weeks or months putting the pieces back together.
That takes time away from valuable tasks like improving safety or implementing sustainability initiatives.
Worse, these ad hoc systems create unintended risk. It's easy for important tasks and deadlines to slip through the cracks. And you can't get a clear picture of your performance until reports are run — which means many problems go unnoticed until the end of the month or quarter.
Compare that to this view of an EHS risk dashboard, for example, where you can easily view your company’s entire risk profile at a glance. You've got instant visibility into everything that's happening across your entire organization.
5 Big Benefits of EHS Software
EHS software offers a number of advantages for both companies and individual employees, from lower costs to improved productivity and better overall performance.
Centralize and standardize: By organizing all your documents, tasks, and deadlines in one place and automating data entry, EHS software makes it easy to collaborate and get more done. And by standardizing how employees collect and manage information, you'll save time and reduce your risk of non-compliance.
Manage proactively: With EHS software, you can capture more meaningful and timely data. Results can be quickly analyzed in real time to spot trends and issues so you can make informed decisions.
Streamline reporting: EHS software saves time by allowing you to create complex reports in minutes, using data captured in real-time at the source.
Increase visibility: Dynamic dashboards allow executives and EHS leaders to see where they stand at all times. And with the help of automatic alerts and notifications, need-to-know staff can stay informed about key metrics in real-time and from anywhere.
- Leverage system intelligence: EHS software adds a layer of intelligence to your data — one that's not possible with spreadsheets. From alerting you when permit limits or thresholds are exceeded to assigning event-triggered corrective actions, software can help you optimize your company's performance.
Does my company need EHS software?
Because today's solutions are designed to grow and scale with you, organizations of any size — from 10 to 100+ users — can benefit from using EHS software.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine whether you need EHS software:
- Is my team wasting time jumping between spreadsheets or databases to find EHS data?
- Is it becoming difficult to manage our tasks and deadlines?
- Does my team spend too much time compiling reports?
- Are we short on time and resources to keep up with our EHS responsibilities?
- Is improving performance and lowering risks a goal of my organization?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your company could benefit from EHS software.
How much does EHS software cost?
The cost of EHS software can range from under $10K all the way up to $2 million (or more).
The size of your organization, the features you choose, and whether you go with a custom or off-the-shelf system all factor into the initial purchase price. On top of that, it's important to consider costs for configuration, maintenance, upgrades, and adding additional users.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is wasting time evaluating software they can't afford. That's why it's so important that you discuss pricing early in the software selection process. This can be done in a 30 minute phone call right after the initial overview demo. Be open and upfront about your budget, and look for a vendor who does the same.
What is the ROI of EHS software?
No matter the price tag, one of the most important considerations is the value — or return on investment (ROI) — that software delivers for your business.
Let’s look at some concrete numbers to show how much time and money EHS software can save you.
For example, imagine one of your core EHS team members spends 8 hours per month creating environmental compliance reports. Using software, they can do the same task in 4 hours per month. If you're paying them $35 per hour to perform this task, that's a cost savings of $1680 per year for each employee. If you have a team of 10, that's a cost savings of $16,800 on environmental compliance reporting alone.
When you consider all the time saved on tasks like reporting, sending notifications, and searching for documents, the numbers can really add up. Most Perillon customers see an ROI of 3-5X their investment, and a payback within 12 months.
Randy Robichaux, Director of EHS at Denbury Resources, saw an immediate savings after implementing Perillon.
"The time savings in the core HSE team was at least 50%, and that does not include the time saved with dashboard reporting," Robichaux said. "What used to take days or weeks to pull together in reports can now be done in seconds with Perillon's dashboards."
Buying cheap software can be an expensive mistake if it doesn't get you the results you need. Similarly, a more expensive software is a steal if it saves you 3-5X what you spent.
Bottom line: Know how much value EHS software can add to your business and how much you're willing to pay for it. Experienced vendors should be able to share an estimate of your anticipated ROI and payback, based on their clients’ experience.
What should I look for in an EHS software solution?
In this section, we'll discuss the different types of EHS software, as well as the features you should look for.
Custom vs. Off-the-Shelf EHS software
When it comes to EHS software, there are two choices: custom or off the shelf.
There are dozens of commercial EHS software systems on the market. All have their own features focused on specific use cases.
There are also homegrown software solutions, which are developed by a company for use within their own organization.
Before you start shopping for an EHS software, you'll need to determine which type of system is right for you.
The question about investing in custom software is a common yet difficult one. While customization might seem like a great idea at first, it can also make it extremely difficult to scale. Unfortunately, many organizations outgrow their custom software before they see a return on their investment. In fact, research from Standish Group shows that 80% of custom software projects cost more than they return.
In terms of cost, features, and long term ROI, an off-the-shelf system like Perillon is almost always the best bet for growing businesses and global enterprises. For more information, download our guide "Homegrown vs. Off-the-Shelf EHS Software: Pros, Cons, and Finding the Right Fit".
The best EHS software features for mid-size companies
The core features and capabilities of an EHS software system include:
- Document management
- Tasks & corrective actions
- Dashboard trending & analysis
- Alerts & notifications
- Audits & inspections
- Incident management
- Regulatory tracking
- Mobile apps
- Integrations (CRM, ERP, etc.)
- Data warehouse
One of the biggest mistakes buyers make is overestimating the features and functionality they need. This leads to lots of frustration once they realize the amount of time and resources the system requires.
Most EHS software is overkill. When you're just starting out, a simple system that does the basics — tracking deadlines and documents, alerting you when something needs your attention, creating reports — is enough.
Once your team is comfortable, then it's time to consider adding more features and workflows. A modular software system will allow you to roll out additional features as you go.
Resist the temptation to fall for fancy features, and keep it simple. Your team will thank you.
How do I choose a vendor?
When you start searching for an EHS software system, it can be hard to distinguish between all the different vendors. At first glance many of them can look quite similar. So how do you know which one is right for you?
One of the first steps toward deciding is to request a software demo.
The initial "overview" demo can help you get to know the software and see it in action. It can also help you get to know the company and their people.
Here are some questions to guide your demo discussion and help you choose the right vendor:
1. How can this system help solve my EHS challenges?
During the initial overview demo, you're evaluating vendors to determine which one 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. Instead of focusing on what features you're looking for, try to get into the details of the problems you're trying to solve.
2. Is it easy to use?
The easier your software is to use, the easier it is to roll it out to more employees. And the more employees using the system, the more connectivity for your enterprise, dramatically increasing productivity and management transparency. Look for a platform that a wide range of employees with varying skills will be able to use. Truly test the vendor's claims that the system is "user-friendly".
3. What kind of mobile capabilities does this software have?
A mobile app with offline capabilities is an essential for users who need to capture data in the field when Wi-Fi isn't available. The app should work on any mobile operating system like iPhone or Android.
4. How easy is reporting?
With good software, you should be able to create fully formatted reports in minutes, using real-time data. If you need to create custom reports for water, waste, air, or GHG emissions permit requirements, you should ask whether the software includes a data warehouse tool.
5. Is the system self-configurable, without needing to go back to the vendor?
Avoid a solution that requires too much customization, as it will be time-consuming to implement and get data out of the system. A better alternative is to look for a self-configurable software where you can modify your own dashboards, control permissions for specific users and groups, and create unlimited custom reports without needing to go back to the vendor.
6. Is it comprehensive and scalable? Can I start with safety and add environmental management later?
Some vendors will insist that you roll out the entire software from day one. This can drain your resources and overwhelm your employees. Instead, look for a software that can be rolled out in individual modules so you can start small and add on when you're ready.
7. Can this system integrate with our other tools, like Continuous Emissions Monitoring (CEMS) or our ERP system?
This is an important question if you need to import or export EHS data to other systems. You'll also want to ask if the vendor can import data from your spreadsheets or existing database into the system.
8. How much does the software cost?
Don't waste your time evaluating software that's too expensive for your budget. Ask the vendor about the true cost of ownership, including upgrades, configuration, maintenance, adding additional users or features, and any other fees. The pricing model should be simple and costs should be predictable.
9. How long does it take to implement, and how much does implementation cost?
Look for a standardized solution that can be implemented quickly with a fixed price implementation, not a custom solution full of uncertainty. As a rule of thumb, implementation should take 30 days or less for a basic system activation and 45-90 days for a comprehensive system. First year implementation fees should not be more than 0.5-1X the annual software fee. If budget is a concern, as whether the system can be self-implemented in order to save money.
10. Can you help with the budget authorization and business justification process?
Your software provider will be your partner throughout the purchase and implementation process. Experienced vendors should be able to share a model of anticipated ROI and payback, based on their other clients’ experience.
11. What kind of training and support do you provide?
Will you have a dedicated account manager? Is support available by phone and email? Are there different levels of training for different types of users? Are there quick reference guides that you can consult after you're up and running?
12. Why should we choose you over other EHS software vendors?
At this point, you may be considering several different vendors. Be open with the vendor and let them know which other solutions you're considering. The vendor should have a good sense of what others in their space are offering and be able to tell you what makes their product different.
How is Perillon different?
Perillon is a simple, affordable EHS management software. Our software is ideal for mid-size, multi-site companies with high volumes of data.
Quick, flexible implementation: Our standardized system can be configured to any organization's needs, without costly and time-consuming custom services. As a result, we can have you up and running in half the time of other vendors.
Intuitive usability: Because our solution is designed for the casual user, our customers experience high user adoption rates which leads to higher productivity and better results.
Environmental domain expertise: Our management and product teams come from a diverse range of industries including manufacturing, telecomm, health care, aerospace, and enterprise software. We have years of experience in environmental risk and compliance.
I think Perillon might be right for us. What do I do next?
Request a live demo with our solutions team. Just answer a few questions so we can understand which features will be most important for you, then we'll contact you to schedule a demo.
Note: This guide was originally published March 1 2019 and updated May 26 2022 for freshness and accuracy.