So you know you need an EHS MIS, but the question you’re probably asking yourself is, “Where do I start”?
Whether you need a system to collect and report sustainability metrics, capture incidents, or facilitate compliance, the process of identifying the right tools is complex yet similar in nature. What we’ve noticed time and time again is that many EHS professionals often begin the process by focusing on the technology. This means perusing vendor websites, attending webinars etc. and, before long, find themselves receiving calls from software sales representatives. The momentum this process creates continues to sales demonstrations and ultimately a vendor selection.
Unfortunately, this scenario often occurs without EHS professionals ever having documented exactly how their team operates and what they want this software to do.
What I’d like to emphasize in this conversation is that many of our top recommendations on where to start, ultimately relate back to the “people, process, technology” triangle. The people, process, technology triangle underscores the importance of looking beyond technology as the sole (or even primary) factor in facilitating change. Software is an enabling tool. Sometimes we select software to embrace embedded best practices. But often we don’t. Sometimes we select software based on a prioritized “best-fit” with defined requirements. But sometimes we don’t. Clearly developing a prioritized list of defined requirements with stated and measurable objectives are critical first steps to selecting the “best” technology for your company. However, beyond technology, the people and process considerations are of equal importance.
Unless your company culture is “command and control” (which is usually not the case in today’s world) it is essential that company staff are emotionally bought in and invested in the technology solution. Opposed staff can quickly derail even the best of technology solutions. Including a wide array of staff in specifying requirements, listening to and documenting wants and needs, polling and gathering general input, is absolutely critical to a successful rollout.
From a process standpoint, technology can enable EHS workflow if, and only if, these work flows have been established, understood and at least minimallydocumented. If not, you will find yourself with no other choices than to embrace the workflow enabled by the software. While this solution may work some of the time, it won’t work if you have not consciously made this choice and are just being dragged along.
For those of you who have been through the EHS MIS selection process, what is your advice for how to begin this internal dialogue? How much time did you set aside for the planning process?