10 Things I Learned at SPF Americas 2015

October 06, 2015
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

With more than 50 sessions taking place over three days, including customer training and user groups, there was a wealth of knowledge exchanged among the 500+ participants at  last month. As with all SPF events, this one did not disappoint. I had the privilege of attending the event and meeting interesting people, including clients, partners, and fellow Enablonians. After the event, I reflected on the wide array of topics that were covered, and received valuable feedback regarding what my colleagues had also learned. Because there were so many things learned at SPF Americas, I can’t fit everything in a single blog post. So I selected the 10 most interesting topics and discussions that caught my interest.

It’s all about value drivers

The market for EHS, Risk and Sustainability solutions is a very broad and complex one. As a result, a vast array of products and modules exist, which can confuse organizations with diverse needs. It is therefore essential to see things from the perspective of the everyday reality faced by companies. During the opening keynote, the Enablon crew highlighted nine “value drivers”, each composed of a set of related needs. These value drivers help organizations become best-in-class by enabling, for example, safe operations, world-class compliance, green facilities, enterprise control, collaborative supply chain, etc.

Software can be smart and beautiful

Many providers are faced with the following dilemma regarding how they prioritize software development: Embedding superior logic, intelligence and analytics in the software, or spending considerable effort to provide a cutting-edge and attractive user experience. During the opening keynote,  used concrete examples from the Enablon platform to show that this dilemma does not have to happen. Regarding software, it is indeed possible to be both smart and beautiful.

“This won’t affect safety” is a myth

The keynote panel discussed how organizations can remain resilient in the face of operational stressors. Many companies are faced with tighter budgets leading to personnel cuts. Some companies re-assure employees and stakeholders alike that reductions in personnel will not have any impact on occupational safety. But the keynote panel demonstrated in an articulate way how this is a myth. Personnel cuts inevitably lead to some increase in occupational safety challenges, hence the need to have robust safety management in place to limit impacts.

Supply chain risk is a ticking time bomb

The keynote panel also discussed supply chain risk. The risk associated with global supply chains is a ticking time bomb that many companies are still underestimating. Lack of transparency over global supply chains is not just a risk to compliance and product quality. Increasingly, it is becoming one of the biggest risks to revenue and preservation (or expansion) of market share for many organizations.

EHS affects spending decisions

EHS information is being used increasingly to help capital management and spending decisions based on risk. Effective EHS management programs also identify EHS risks throughout the organization. Some companies then go one step further and use information on EHS risks to provide internal justification to the management team or board of directors for new capital expenditures on equipment and assets.

Executive support is vital for project success

The key to successful software deployments and project success is leadership mandating the initiative and use of the system. Most companies where software implementation and user adoption are successful have one thing in common: the executive management understood the business value of the system and went to great lengths to communicate that value internally. The same applies regarding the adoption of any new business process. Executive support can make the difference between success and failure.

There is more to mobility than remote data entry

Many organizations view as just another way to access an enterprise software from mobile devices and enter data remotely. But it is also important to evaluate the features that are only available through mobile solutions, such as safety alerts in real-time, providing contextual information at the fingertips of employees and contractors, etc. Companies that are considering mobile solutions should look at the full picture: Remote data entry and mobile-specific functionality that improve operations. This would allow them to get a more accurate idea of the potential benefits of mobile solutions.

Agile risk management is needed

Companies are becoming much more entrepreneurial in their response to managing risk, and therefore they demand agility from their systems to match this response. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to risk management. It is important to equip organizations with adaptable tool sets that help them address risks in their own unique way.

Exchanges with peers from different phases is also useful

It is a good idea to bring users of a software product together so they can share best practices and ideas. But there is even higher value in bringing together users who are at different phases regarding software use (pre-implementation, implementation, new users, long-time users). This allows people to have a glimpse into the future and adjust accordingly. The natural reflex of users is to interact with others with whom they have things in common (industry, modules used, etc.), but sometimes it’s good to make an exception and seek peer exchanges with users who are not in the exact same situation, especially regarding the software deployment cycle.

Never underestimate training

It is easy to dismiss training as something that only new users should receive. But we learned that even experienced users benefit from application training and demonstrations to learn nuggets of information that will help them. When a software solution has great breadth and depth, there are always instances where users may not be aware of the presence of some key software features. These features can make a great difference in the daily use of the software.

As we prepare for the 2016 series of SPF events around the world, it will be interesting to see what is learned from each event. Will there be new challenges and trends brought to our attention? Will existing ones show up again?

Did you attend SPF Americas? What interesting things did you learn? Let us know in the comments section below!

 will take place on October 4-5 in Chicago, and will bring together more than 500 EHS, Sustainability, Risk and IT professionals from the world’s largest corporations. Register today and don’t miss out on 50+ sessions and countless opportunities to network with your peers.

Sustainable Performance Americas 2016