3 Steps to Build a Business Case for Environmental, Health, Safety, and Quality Software

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3 Steps to Build a Business Case for Environmental, Health, Safety, and Quality Software

Companies are always looking for new ways to streamline work and improve efficiencies. Environmental, health, safety, and quality (EHSQ) departments are in a unique position today. Gone are the days where they were viewed as the cost of doing business. Companies are now promoting sustainable development and operational excellence, which requires EHSQ departments to be part of the decision-making process and strategy development. To keep up with shifting business priorities, many EHSQ professionals are turning to enterprise software solutions to help their organizations drive performance through compliance and embed a culture of continuous improvement across the company.

Technology’s Role  

Technology should be viewed as a set of tools to make getting work done more efficient and accurate. In the not too distant past, the EHSQ software landscape was exceedingly fragmented and required companies to buy solutions from multiple vendors, which increased costs, reduced efficiencies, and led to poor returns on investments. According to a survey conducted on behalf of Harmon.ie, a software company, employees use an average of 9.4 apps per day to get work done, which is leading to app fatigue for employees and is largely unsustainable. For this reason, companies are now demanding integrated solutions. Through client feedback and market consolidation, there are now several EHSQ software providers that offer fully integrated, enterprise-ready software platforms, which are designed to help companies, centralize, standardize and streamline work that has to be done to ensure operational and regulatory compliance, as well as easily leverage data for decision-making purposes. Additionally, these solutions are also breaking down silos and improving communications between operations and EHSQ groups to deliver more value.    

Making the Business Case for EHSQ Software in 3 Steps

Justifying enterprise software is no easy feat. It’s a huge investment in time and resources. EHSQ professionals often struggle to build the business case for new solutions because they lack the data to demonstrate the direct cost savings associated with efficiency gains and process standardization. While Human Resources, Payroll, Finance, and Operations are often given the green light to seek out and implement state-of-the art solutions to “get the job done”, EHSQ usually lags when it comes to securing management approval for new software purchases. Below is an overview of how best to make the business case.

Step 1: Identify Process Improvements

It’s paramount that you understand your current process(es) from start to finish as part of your business case. This will prevent you from fixing processes that aren’t broken, creating new problems, or having to rework solutions down the road. As you evaluate your current processes and segment
their components, look for opportunities to make your workflows simpler. This can be done formally through a Kaizen or Lean event like Map, Improve, Lean, Automate, Repeat or informally. Most importantly, understanding the current workflows will help you evaluate and select a software platform that meet your needs both in the short and long-term. 

Step 2: Secure Stakeholder Buy-in

There is probably no harder task than getting buy-in from colleagues, management and executives. When you begin the process of developing your EHSQ software project, there are three groups you must win over: Executives, Colleagues, and Information Technology (IT). You should also consider getting an outsider to review what you’ve done to get a fresh perspective. Without stakeholder buy-in, your project will go nowhere.

Step 3: Calculate the Cost Savings

Demonstrating cost savings can be just as difficult as getting buy-in from stakeholders. Management and executives want to see hard dollar savings. This typically means reducing headcount, but EHSQ business units are generally already stretched for resources, so eliminating people isn’t usually an option. Typically, EHSQ professionals have to approach cost savings from a different angle. Focus on how the new system will improve efficiencies and enable the organization to maintain programs even as regulations change and as the company grows organically or through mergers and acquisitions. You can also calculate how a new system can reduce the risk of a non-compliance event and subsequent fines and penalties. This requires knowing how many non-compliance events your company has had over a three to five-year period, how much the associated fines were, and what the likelihood of a future event is.

Sustaining Your Technology Programs

After you’ve secured buy-in and implemented your new solution, your team should be realizing the benefits of an integrated EHSQ management system. Once the project phase is complete, you’ll need to shift focus to how you will sustain your new technology program. The last thing you want is to have invested in a system that doesn’t keep pace with your changing organization.

Maintenance will rest with your organization’s system administrators, business unit leads, and IT team. They will all need to work together to manage and maintain key aspects of the system. For Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, this usually means managing user permissions, data integrations, organizational hierarchy, and updating pick lists and inspection forms. While these activities may not warrant a full-time dedicated resource, be aware that the need will ebb and flow depending on your company’s organic growth, as well as mergers, acquisitions, and divestments. A governance committee should review and approve all changes after “Go Live” to ensure the integrity of the system remains.

Additionally, resources will need to be available for training new users and conducting refresher training with existing users. It’s recommended to have a person designated internally to handle user issues with the system rather than everyone calling the software provider’s help desk. This generally saves time, reduces confusion and helps with user adoption. Lastly, work with your software provider to determine your adoption rate. This can be done by reviewing when users last logged into the system, how much time they spend in the system and determining what they do while in the system.

Summing it Up

An EHSQ software project takes time, dedication, and coordination, but if done properly, it will provide tremendous long-term value to your company. Navigating this process can seem daunting and feel never-ending, but don’t get discouraged. More and more companies are realizing the value that EHSQ professionals add to their organizations and are willing to invest in technologies to help them drive positive change across the company, break down silos, and centralize and standardize processes.

Next Steps

For more information on how to build a winning business case for your software project, download our resource, EHSQ Buyer’s Guide: The Ultimate Guide to EHSQ Software Success.

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