Knowing When to Buy EHS Software

At what point does the cost of purchasing and implementing new software become preferable to the cost of maintaining your existing organizational software? It’s an important question, especially when you consider that as much as two-thirds of the cost of the new software is probably going to come from your EHS budget. Like just about anything else, software has an expected service life. For most well-designed systems, their useful life cycle can be as long as six to eight years; for systems that are less well designed or for applications that evolve very quickly, the useful life of business software can be as short as three years.

To maintain workplace safety you need a tool that will provide software solutions for a wide variety of services like compliance management, risk management, safety management, incident management, audits, document control, training management … the list goes on.

According to a 2017 survey conducted by the National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM), most companies that are looking at replacing their EHS software have a system in place that is less than five years old so, if your system is approaching five years old, it probably is or soon will be outdated.

How do you know your current software is outdated?

1. You need software that integrates more readily with your other IT systems.

Many companies have other business software systems for non-EHS applications; modern EHS software can often be integrated with these systems in ways that draw EHS out of its silo and demonstrate its value to the organization. Modern EHS software has the potential to work with your:

  • Manufacturing execution systems (MES). These systems track and document the process of transforming raw materials to finished product.
  • Enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs). These systems provide unified information to different departments within the organization that might otherwise be working from separate sets of data.
  • Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). Some businesses may already participate in this voluntary European Union environmental management system, which is itself designed to integrate with ISO 14001. If your company is EMAS registered, you may want EHS software that integrates readily with its requirements.
  • Business intelligence tools and business analytics tools. These basic data management tools offer business-related aggregation and analysis to identify business trends and opportunities. Some EHS software can export information into these tools.

2. You need to replace an internally built system.

Perhaps your initial EHS software was created by your in-house IT department – and at the time, it did what you needed. But as EHS software becomes more highly specialized and broadly functional, many companies are finding it’s difficult or impossible to continually upgrade proprietary legacy systems and that a third-party provider can offer things that in-house IT staff simply doesn’t have the time or resources to create.

3. You need greater external transparency.

Your company’s EHS performance is increasingly a matter of public interest. Customers and clients may decide where to spend their money based not just on price and quality, but also on factors like corporate environmental and safety performance. Modern EHS software can easily generate reports that show your company to best advantage in these areas.

4. You need better tools for tracking your EHS return on investment.

Outdated or rudimentary EHS software may not have robust systems for evaluating return on investment (ROI) for your EHS activities. ROI is one of the more important categories of analytics that can be vastly improved by upgrading your software.

5. Your current vendor isn’t getting the job done.

It could be that what you need isn’t new software as much as a new software vendor. If you’re noticing that updates aren’t promptly available, perhaps, or don’t meet your expectations, or if your cur- rent software is becoming too expensive to maintain and lacks adequate technical support, it may be time for a change.

6. Your culture has changed.

Perhaps your current software was put in place when you needed to be better about reacting to things like near-misses, or to more closely track EHS-related disciplinary actions. But, now that everybody’s on board with your EHS goals, you may need software with a proactive focus.

7. You’re going paperless.

Older systems may still rely on paper-based processes – for example, printed inspection checklists. Newer software may help you along on the road to a paperless system.

8. You probably already have environmental, health and safety (EHS) management software.

And you probably have a lot of items vying for space in your budget, some of them critical. New personnel, updated training, new or replacement equipment… at what point does upgrading your EHS management software become critical enough to move to the top of the list of proposed expenditures? These considerations should help guide you in making the best decision for your organization.

Download the full report to learn how technology is improving workplace safety and learn how EHS software can help your organization.

Check out these additional resources to help guide you in best practice:

An Insider’s Guide to Buying a Safety Management System: Part I

Passing the Test: How Good is your Safety Management System? by Scott Gaddis

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