4 Takeaways From Our Webinar on the EHS Software Journey

September 27, 2018

On September 20, we hosted a webinar on the EHS software journey with speakers from J.M. Huber and Arcadis.

J.M. Huber Corporation is one of the largest, family-owned businesses in the U.S. and has been operating since 1883. Huber is present in many industries, including personal care products, food and beverage, flame retardants and smoke suppressants, building materials and others.

Arcadis is the leading global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets. Applying its deep market sector insights and collective design, consultancy, engineering, project and management services, Arcadis works in partnership with its clients to deliver exceptional and sustainable outcomes.

If you didn’t have a chance to attend our webinar, you can view the recording. Here are four takeaways from the interesting discussion that took place, to give you a preview of what to expect.

1) Shift from a Prescriptive Rollout to an Organic Expansion

People are resistant to change, especially to new software tools. But forcibly imposing a solution can also backfire. Is there a way to address this apparent contradiction? The answer is “Yes”. During the webinar, Emily Thomas, Corporate Sustainability Programs Manager, revealed that the initial rollout of the Enablon software system was very prescriptive, i.e. workers were told “You have to use Enablon”. But as the software solution began to prove its value, Huber successfully adapted its approach and began to shift to an organic expansion phase, going from a “push” to a “pull”.

As part of the new phase, the direction and speed of investments in additional functionality were dictated by the needs of users and organizational initiatives and priorities. This was not without risk. Going from a situation where workers are mandated to use a new tool, to one where users influence the direction of the rollout could have slowed the process. But the shift was facilitated by the intuitiveness and user-friendliness of Enablon, which made it easy for people to use it more often and enter data into it. In fact, Emily revealed during the webinar that more than 90% of all events are entered in Enablon by non-EHS personnel.

2) Justify Projects From the Collected Data

When organizations list the benefits of EHS software, the most frequent ones include better data management, actionable insights generated from the data, reduced incidents, safety improvements, and operational efficiencies. At Huber, the EHS team was also able to justify major, important projects based on the data in the system. Data is being used to successfully persuade management to approve investments in major initiatives.

Nik Seely, EHS&S Systems Specialist and System Administrator, provided this concrete example during the webinar: the site he was working at had a huge problem with truck traffic. There were a lot of over-the-road trucks coming on to a very small site, and many near hits and property damage incidents were occuring. Nik and his team knew that there was a serious risk of having people getting hit, run over, seriously hurt, or worse. Expanding the site, paving some new roads and changing traffic patterns was a hard project to justify because it seemingly had no real return on investment, and it’s difficult to quantify the risk without a lot of data to back it up.

Nik and his team were able to go in Enablon, track all incidents related to the truck traffic issue, and show to the Board of Directors and decision-makers that this was a real problem that required a real solution. After seeing the data, corporate leaders justified a multi-million dollar project to fix the truck traffic issue. Nik believes that this ultimately has or will save lives, which is a powerful and tangible benefit achieved.

3) Mobility and Data Mining Should Be on Your Roadmap

Best-in-class organizations lead by example, and Huber’s future plans for their EHS management software system provides an idea of the roadmap that all organizations should also follow. During the webinar, Huber was asked about the next steps for their Enablon EHS software solution, and Nik mentioned mobility and data mining. Mobility improves user engagement and removes many barriers to data reporting. Nik says that the ability for workers to directly enter incidents through smartphones or tablets vastly improves the amount of data that is collected, because there are not a lot of computer terminals on the plant floor for safety reasons (e.g. a computer station getting hit by a forklift).

Regarding data mining, as more data is collected, there is an opportunity to get more value out of it by looking at it more intelligently, Nik says. Also, by integrating data in Enablon with other data sources, such as Business Intelligence tools, deep insights can be generated across different functions, and knowledge can be synergized across all parts of the organization. If you have EHS software implemented, and you’re asking yourself “What next?”, Huber’s journey can provide you the answer.

4) Align People, Processes, and Technology

As a leading consultancy, Arcadis started working with the Huber team about four years ago (initially as E2 ManageTech until it was acquired by Arcadis) and accompanied Huber on its journey to evaluate, select, implement and roll out an EHS software system. Arcadis’ involvement helped Huber to establish a technology foundation for the EHS and operational risk components of their business. During the webinar, Mike Mitchell, Vice-President at the Information Driven Performance Group at Arcadis, gave a detailed description of Arcadis’ work with Huber and their involvement in the EHS software journey. Mike convincingly made the case that ultimately it’s about people, processes, and technology.

For any software project, there is a risk of having too much focus on technical details and losing sight of the big picture. Mike explained that the success of a software project is not just about the technology, but it’s really about introducing a new technology in the context of people and processes. The key is to drive alignment between people, processes and technology to set and meet the right expectations. This alignment of the three is the underlying theme that applies to many aspects of a EHS software project, including user adoption, change management, communication with stakeholders, etc.

These four takeaways are only samples of the wealth of information and insights that were shared during the webinar. Click on the image below to access the full recording: