According to a 2019 study by Perillon, 46% of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) leaders find their current safety management software is outdated and are actively looking for replacement systems.1 Modern software systems can offer a variety of improvements over manual and proprietary “legacy” applications and systems, including real-time access to data reports, cost efficiencies, and integration across multiple platforms. In deciding whether to commit to a modern software package, consider the following system features, major advantages, and potential drawbacks available to your organization.
System Feature Considerations
There are a wide variety of EHS software features to select from and not all systems will serve the same function. When evaluating the available features, consider options that would best benefit your unique workplace:
Cloud-based vs. location-based: will your best value come from a locally fed system or one that can share data on enterprise basis?
Knowledge base support: does the system integrate with regulatory and reference sources (OSHA, NIOSH, ANSI, NFPA)?
Data entry and reporting customization: can the system accommodate your unique needs?
Data security and access control: how does system protect data integrity?
Data retention: how is data backed-up and retrieved (on-demand or after contract termination)?
Integration with other common business applications (common business suites and databases)
Consolidation of multiple functions in a single software system (incident reporting, exposure records, training records)
While there are many appealing advantages, IT cost savings and communication efficiencies standout as the major advantages of adopting modern EHS software systems.
IT cost savings: dedicated server expense and in-house IT support may be reduced if third party support is included in your subscription or purchase contract at lower cost than in-house resources.
Communication efficiencies: with access to helpful safety-related employee data, EHS staff will likely be more efficient and effective through better anticipation and response to incidents.
As advantageous as modern EHS software system can be, it’s important to examine the potential drawbacks as well. These may appear when the software selection is too rigid or does not match well with a particular business model, enterprise IT model, or corporate culture.
Other drawbacks to consider:
Data ownership: organizations could relinquish some control over their data and information security when in the hands of a third party. The organization would have to trust the third party to store their data securely offsite.
Cost-benefit: organizations must weigh the overall start-up costs and contract/subscription commitment required to implement a modern system. Taking a cost-benefit approach will help realize if modern EHS software is worth the adoption of a new system.
The ultimate goal in deciding whether or not to adopt a modern EHS software system is to see an improvement in the overall function and effectiveness of your organization’s safety program. Taking the time to fully evaluate the features, advantages, and potential drawbacks will help you decide if the leap into a new system is right for your organization
Michael McGowan is the Senior Loss Control Consultant with Old Republic Risk Management. He is responsible for assisting policyholders with loss control information and services with an emphasis on carrier service compliance in regulated jurisdictions. Michael is based out of our corporate office in Brookfield, WI.