The larger your workforce, the harder it is to keep everyone on the same page and ensure the health and safety of your employees. That’s why so many companies today — especially those with diverse, and distributed workforces — turn to EHS software to centralize and standardize the management of their people and critical EHS tasks.
While this approach makes sense in theory, we continue to see major EHS software implementations regularly fail. When this happens, it’s often because a company attempts to bring online an overly complex solution that is too hard to install and train people on.
An EHS software implementation must be designed with all stakeholders in mind, otherwise it won’t work for the entire workforce because it lacks the intuitive quality that drives engagement. A key indicator that your implementation could be an issue is having to rely too heavily on expensive outside contractors to get the product up and running, and an overreliance on trainers to get your people comfortable inside the system.
In short, a system that is difficult to implement will likely be too difficult for your people to use. That’s why it’s important not to get distracted by all the “bells and whistles” when selecting EHS software. Instead, the focus should be on whether the software solves your specific business challenges and whether it has the native tools, guides, videos and other aides necessary for workers to be able to self-train and navigate independently through their day-to-day tasks.
Effective EHS software facilitates a “Learn, Do, Manage” approach. Under Learn, Do, Manage, software empowers those using it to become independent operators. It embeds best practice approaches into their tasks without the friction that can bog down an EHS program when frontline workers are asked to go beyond their capabilities.
Let’s take a closer look at each step in the Learn, Do, Manage approach.
Once implemented, EHS software should make everyone’s job easier and ultimately safer; however, getting there often proves challenging. In addition to organizational-wide uncertainty and apprehension about any newly-introduced software, the reality of needing to train employees on it raises its own concerns when resources and people are already constrained and working at capacity.
That’s why the leading EHS software solutions are designed to be intuitive and self-teaching. The software actually walks users through the use of the program as they are performing a task. This almost always eliminates or greatly reduces the need for extensive training sessions ahead of implementation or costly third-party consultants to facilitate user learning. Instead, advanced solutions offer built-in guidance that walks the user through each process step-by-step. Even after a worker is fully trained and up-to-speed on the software, these guides continue to provide helpful support whenever extra direction is needed, lessening the need to do retraining.
Without the need for structured lessons, in-system learning guides reduce the time needed to implement the software, so it’s up and running faster and workers are actually using it sooner.
An effective EHS program doesn’t live in a vacuum, nor can it be entirely managed by a single employee or even a handful of designated safety professionals. Exceptional companies understand the importance of embracing EHS as a shared responsibility across the organization from senior leadership to frontline workers.
While software has made significant strides in the collection and distribution of important EHS data, companies continue to run into issues with employee engagement. The most common reasons center on the fact that the software is too complicated to implement, train on and use, and fails to meet even the most basic objectives by discouraging worker participation and data input.
The simple fact is, the easier the software tools are to use, the more likely your employees are to use them. Complex software options with the most advanced technology are not always the best option. In our experience working with thousands of companies, we’ve found the best solutions standardize and centralize complicated processes, but are designed with the user experience in mind for greater ease of use and simplicity.
One of the most significant benefits of deploying an EHS software solution is better visibility into what is happening within your organization, and using that data to make strategic decisions that help reduce risk, lower costs, and improve EHS and sustainability.
Yet, all too often, there’s a disconnect between the data output and questions you’re trying to answer, or additional hurdles that make gaining the real-time data you need more difficult.
Well-designed EHS software presents the right data, in the right format, at the right frequency to visualize performance and risk so you can focus your efforts where they will be most effective. The best systems help customers extract meaningful data with modern reporting and dashboarding tools, data sets and output formats specifically defined by the user. This frees you from chasing and validating data you need so you can spend more time identifying and analyzing important trends, and sharing that information throughout your company.
Selecting the right EHS software vendor for your company is an important task. It’s a journey that requires a partner who takes the time to listen, understand your unique business challenges, and supports you throughout implementation, training and beyond. When comparing EHS software solutions, look for one that keeps things simple, and is designed from the ground up to incorporate EHS management best practices. After all, the most basic purpose of EHS software is to simplify complex EHS management tasks and reduce the effort needed to perform them – not make it more difficult.