Investing in EHS software is a big decision with serious ramifications. In addition to the financial costs, EHS software also brings changes in the way business processes are managed and executed. Given the transformational effects of using EHS software, the software selection process should be seen as a major responsibility, and not as another typical procurement exercise. Having a strategy in place helps, but even the development of a strategy needs careful planning. Here are three steps to develop effectively an EHS software selection strategy. The steps are outlined in the Verdantix report Best Practices for EH&S Software Strategy Planning, September 2016.
1) Set the Baseline
If you want to know where you should go, it helps to know where you’re coming from. The development of your EHS software selection strategy should start with setting a baseline by understanding:
- What are the EHS solutions currently in place (e.g. spreadsheets, internally-developed solutions, point solutions, etc.)?
- How are the current EHS solutions used?
- Who are the owners and users of the various systems?
- What are the current business drivers that justify a new EHS system?
Setting the baseline allows you to build a shared understanding of the objectives associated with the software purchase.
2) Anticipate the Obstacles
If you can identify in advance potential obstacles that can jeopardize the purchase or implementation of a new EHS software solution, you will be better able to overcome them. Here are some examples of obstacles that you should look for:
- Resistance from users wanting to keep their legacy solutions.
- Subject Matter Experts wanting to keep their “pet point solutions”.
- Heavily customized legacy solutions in place.
- IT departments raising security and system integration concerns.
Be sure to identify potential obstacles before embarking on the EHS software selection process and contacting vendors. This will help you avoid many nasty surprises.
3) Document the Strategy
Even if you have successfully set the baseline and identified the obstacles, all of it will be of limited use if you don’t document the strategy. A detailed strategy document is needed, and should do the following at a minimum:
- Articulate the corporate objectives of the EHS software selection process.
- Define the desired business outcomes.
- Propose a framework to address the identified obstacles.
A well-drafted strategy document helps to secure the support of executives by showing that their concerns are taken into consideration, and proposing a plan to address them.
If you want to explore further the three steps outlined in this post, download the full Verdantix report “Best Practices for EH&S Software Strategy Planning”, which includes more detailed information, as well as a very helpful Software Selection Strategy Planning Worksheet. Here are some of the things that you will learn from the report:
- Key questions decision-makers must answer to develop an effective EHS software strategy.
- How to lay out a comprehensive strategy to meet core corporate needs.
- How to anticipate multiple barriers to getting projects funded and launched.
- How to overcome software selection and implementation challenges through strategic planning.