At Sustainit, when we speak about sustainability data, we’re not just looking at environmental sustainability but instead, data related to a sustainable world in general including governance, health & safety, supply chain and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The EHS software market is awash with companies looking to sell you their solutions. Having worked in this space for the last 15 years, seeing it develop and change greatly over that time, we have learned a lot from working directly with companies to select, implement and manage a variety of EHS solutions.
So below are just some of our tips when looking to select a new EHS solution. We hope that you can benefit from our independent experience and always happy to talk if needed.
From our experience this element of the project is arguably the area that can lead to significant delays and over-spend.
EHS software projects can easily sit in the 6 digit figure per year category and often span multiple departments so it’s critical to ensure that not only are all stakeholders identified but more importantly involved in the process. We’ve seen delays to implementations and disagreements in the selection process countless times through miscommunication internally.
Requirement gathering process
Include all relevant stakeholders at this early stage including; subject matter experts, IT, procurement and legal.
Project timelines and deliverables
Clearly communicate timelines and deliverables so that people understand what’s expected of them and when.
Meetings, workshops and demonstrations
Invite stakeholders when relevant, because seeing is believing.
Defined project methodology
Document the project methodology. Important for clarity and making sure everyone is on the same page.
Frequent project progress updates
Think about having a comms strategy in place for the project.
Furthermore, projects can spend months and sometimes longer, so it is important to make sure any change to stakeholders is acknowledged and that new stakeholders are fully inducted into the project. This is especially important when new stakeholders are decision makers.
Clearly communicating your requirements
Your ability to accurately communicate your requirements to software vendors may not be as easy as it sounds in real-life, especially if you’re not currently using an EHS software solution.
Some companies are fairly clear with what they need, how many users will be required and how much data they want to collect however others may be nowhere near that stage.
If you fall into the latter category, having an initial conversation with either a selection of EHS software providers or an independent EHS consultant like Sustainit will help you define these.
Document your requirements
Even if you don’t intend to go to RFP, documenting as much as you can is essential.
Weight your requirements
Throughout the process, always make sure all stakeholders are in agreement with what your critical requirements are. Nice to haves can be added later depending on budget.
Allow for comparable pricing as much as possible. Pricing is traditionally based on the number (and type) of users and the number of modules however this is changing.
Don’t jump ahead
Let’s face it, most people want to jump straight into demonstrations as this is the fun part and can of course give you a visual understanding of what the software can offer. However, demonstrations can be deceiving, especially if your requirements aren’t communicated to the software vendors beforehand.
Oftentimes software companies will show you the best features, and these may not be the features you need and may be the more expensive additions. Being clear in what you want, as much as you can, will lead to more accurate quotations from vendors as well as minimal disagreements internally.
For example, engaging with the legal department early can mitigate significant delays down the line.
Collecting your requirements
Take time collecting requirements from all stakeholders by asking about current challenges and future desires.
Procurement and legal processes
It’s crucial to understand your internal processes here to avoid unnecessary delays.
For the vendors to fill out to assist in comparable analysis I.e. demonstration evaluation sheets and RFP documents.
Understand your expected budget and be clear with software vendors.
Research the market
Thoroughly! – not all software vendors will be a good fit. Or use a third party for advice.
Selecting software can be a daunting task taking scarce time from people across the organisation but by doing it properly and spending the time to do it right the first time, money and time will be saved in the long-term. In addition, being clear in your data and process requirements and having an open dialogue with the software vendor to build a strong relationship will pay dividends against your sustainability strategy and ability to report going forward.