In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in organizations implementing enterprise-wide environmental, health, and safety (EH&S) software platforms. While a key driver is the desire to streamline and enhance compliance, other factors are at play as well. The quality of commercial software offerings has continued to improve, and a flurry of mergers and acquisitions means many providers can offer a wide array of capabilities. An increasing focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria among investors is highlighting the value these systems can provide beyond routine compliance, and there is a realization that these platforms can ultimately provide a foundation to leverage emerging technologies.
In selecting and implementing a solution, there are any number of priorities that your organization may target and numerous commercial platforms available. Regardless of your specific goals or platform, however, here are five tips to keep in mind as you work through the process:
- Buying software does not magically fill a business process gap. An organization’s motivation to implement an EH&S system often includes a desire to streamline existing processes. The software provides new tools and options, but effective implementation of those new tools requires business process planning. Don’t skimp on the upfront planning portion of an implementation. APTIM recommends hosting workshops to explore details of how the EH&S system will integrate with your company’s business processes, visualize the system on a workflow diagram, and look for exceptions to the system that may need to be handled prior to implementation. These upfront planning efforts provide a solid foundation for a detailed system design.
- Be ready to find hidden gaps and inconsistencies in your process. The selection of an EH&S system will shine a flashlight throughout your organization, so you’re going to find some surprises. Set the tone early – encourage teams to be transparent about their current processes by focusing on solutions going forward. At the same time, recognize that resolving gaps may require time and resources outside of the implementation per se.
- Don’t treat the project as a turnkey solution from a software vendor or implementation partner. Planning and design are iterative and collaborative by nature. The best outcomes are achieved when key stakeholders in your organization are actively involved throughout the project -– from defining the business process up front to helping with training of end users. This reduces surprises, provides a good understanding of how the final solution will function, and ultimately improves satisfaction with the final product. To make this happen, internal staff must have the bandwidth to devote to the EH&S system implementation.
- Be pragmatic. No software solution is going to have every bell and whistle you might dream about. Don’t get hung up on nice-to-haves when reasonable alternatives exist. Be ready to partner with your software provider, consultant, and other stakeholders on the best outcomes. Similarly, while overall organizational efficiency is a goal, that doesn’t mean that every end user will experience a lessening of their responsibilities. Some may need to do more at certain points in a process to lessen the overall load or to address prior gaps in the process.
- Properly resource for post “go live”. These EH&S systems don’t run themselves and will be the most effective when you have allocated sufficient internal resources post “go live”. Depending on the size of your organization, this should include one or more individuals within your EH&S team who not only have system administration as a primary responsibility, but who also have a good understanding of the compliance aspects being managed. Provide these individuals the resources and authority to develop expertise and own the EH&S system.
Ultimately, a successful EH&S system implementation leverages the lessons learned from those that have gone before. APTIM’s environmental, health, and safety experts have supported a number of clients with implementing and maintaining EH&S systems. We’ve seen what approaches tend to work best and can harness this experience in helping you get the most out of a system implementation. If you need support with your EH&S system, reach out to the APTIM team today.
And remember, you’re not going to knock out everything in year one. A benefit of these platforms is the ability to expand over time - prioritize what must come first and plan expansions for the future.