5 Common Mistakes When Implementing and Using EHS Software
As an EHS software provider, we have seen our fair share of EHS software implementations and what happens after a system goes live. Most organizations have a successful EHS software implementation project. But we also see some common mistakes.
Some mistakes are well known, such as: Not getting management support, not involving key stakeholders, ignoring end-users, not properly identifying all required data integrations, and having too many customizations.
But other mistakes are also worth highlighting. Here are five to be aware of.
1) You only consider your short-term needs
Your implementation and use of EHS software may already be off to a bad start if you only considered part of your needs during the EHS software selection process. Many firms do the mistake of addressing only their most immediate pain points, such as incident management or regulatory compliance, instead of looking at the big picture and implementing a solution that covers all EHS processes.
Leading organizations have the vision and foresight to understand that it’s more efficient and cost-effective in the long-term to implement an enterprise EHS platform that addresses all EHS processes (incident management, safety management, compliance, audits, inspections, environmental reporting, occupational health, etc.). It’s better to have a single EHS software platform with a uniform user experience, which reduces training costs and facilitates user adoption and onboarding.
Also, many EHS processes are connected, therefore it makes sense to have a single, integrated EHS platform. So why delay the inevitable and implement only a partial EHS solution today that creates extra costs and burden tomorrow?
2) You don’t define your processes well
Some companies may have an unrealistic expectation that EHS software will show them how to run their EHS processes. But it’s not enough to address an organizational challenge with only a technological solution.
Before implementing and using EHS software, make sure you have well defined various EHS processes (incident investigations, audits, inspections, risk assessments, reporting, etc.). For example, what happens when an incident occurs, from the moment it is recorded to the point where actions are taken following the incident investigation? Similarly, what type of inspections do you conduct and at what frequency? What happens if an inspection identifies a new hazard, non-conformity, or any problem?
The goal of EHS software is to strengthen existing processes and make them more efficient, automated, and effective, not replace them. This is done through dashboards, workflows, alerts, notifications, intuitive data entry forms, and other features.
3) You don’t stop and reflect
Software implementation timelines can be aggressive. But even if an implementation timeline is ambitious, it’s good to stop and reflect once a while.
Don’t hesitate to pause or slow down an EHS software implementation project to take time to reflect on the progress achieved. You want to evaluate what is going right and what is going wrong. If required, change things along the way. It’s better to fix an issue early when it’s still small, than address it when the system is already deployed to hundreds of users, which can result in major disruptions.
For example, you deploy an application at a small site to start with. If you notice that users are finding a data entry form too confusing, take time to make the necessary configurations to change the form, before resuming the implementation and deploying the application to all other sites.
4) You don’t connect the dots
We saw above how some organizations only consider part of their needs during an EHS software selection process. They only address their most immediate pain points, instead of looking at the big picture.
Fortunately, there are companies with the vision to implement a single, integrated EHS platform throughout the enterprise that addresses all EHS processes. But that’s just the beginning. Be sure also to connect the dots between processes for added efficiencies and value.
For example, when an incident associated to a piece of equipment occurs, you should be able to link it back to the corresponding risk assessment. The latter should be reviewed to see if the likelihood or severity of an incident was properly evaluated. Also, if a new hazard is entered in the system by a worker, a risk assessment should be initiated, followed by an action plan to implement controls. A single EHS platform brings much greater automation for these types of scenarios.
5) You stop educating users after going live
After user training is completed and an EHS software system goes live, be sure to keep educating users. EHS software, like any other software, goes through upgrades, with new functionality added, or existing functionality behaving differently. Also, regulations change, and since compliance with environmental and occupational health and safety regulations is a big part of EHS management, your EHS software will continue to evolve.
As your EHS software evolves, be sure the level of knowledge of users remains adequate. Have regularly scheduled refresher training sessions. Create an online forum, or a dedicated Teams chat channel, where a user can ask questions and other users can answer and share their expertise. Also, most EHS software providers organize user conferences. It’s a good investment to send a few administrators or power users to these conferences to make sure they’re up to speed on the latest software features.
The implementation and use of EHS software are a big investment in time and resources. The journey has many challenges, but you can take a big step towards success by avoiding these five mistakes.
About the Author
Jean-Grégoire Manoukian serves as content thought leader for Wolters Kluwer Enablon, a leading provider of integrated software solutions that helps organizations protect worker safety, enhance sustainability, manage risks, stay compliant and identify opportunities to elevate EHS, operational risk management, and ESG performance.