7 things you need to know if you are looking for an EHS solution

Ajoy Gonsalves
Ajoy Gonsalves

An EHS solution for your PDCA cycle

Like most companies, you've probably also developed your own version of the plan-do-check-act cycle over the years and are now looking for a way to digitize it with an EHS solution.

Surely there must be EHS software that does what I need, right?

Just about every EHS manager

Sooner or later you will face the same dilemma that the techies have been dealing with since the dawn of business software:

  • Should you build an EHS solution?
    • This is the better option if you don't want to change your existing processes, but it can take months or even years. You also have the chance that you go over budget.  
  • Should you buy an EHS solution?
    • This will certainly take less time than building your own solution, but there will be trade-offs as you get a turnkey EHS platform. 

Ultimately, whether you build or buy, you will have to make compromises.

So, which one is the 'least evil'?

We will discuss the pros and cons of building vs. buy sketches and inform you about the 7 things to look for in your search for EHS software.

zoektoch naar EHS software
The search for software

When building an EHS solution internally

The appeal of this option is that you have full control over the final product, and you get a custom solution that ticks all the boxes. However, an internal build can take up a lot of your precious time, probably more than you can afford.

So before you turn on the "internal" construction machine, it's worth checking out how fast this machine can move.

Here are the key questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do we have the expertise in-house to realize this?
  2. Do we have the UX expertise in-house to make this accessible to all employees on all devices?
  3. How long does it take? Is that time better spent on other things?
  4. How special (read: customization) are our needs?
  5. What are our competitors using?
  6. Do we need complex integrations? Are there any EHS software vendors that offer these integrations?
  7. How are we going to maintain it?
  8. Does this solution add to our core value? If not, is it really worth building it? 

If you manage to develop your own EHS platform, then it is almost certain that the software will have the exact functions and workflow you need. However, there are a few things you should know before you decide to build your own EHS software.

The 3 things you need to know when building your own EHS solution

1. Expectations may not match reality

Unfortunately, building a software solution in-house is often seen as a useless chore. Statistics show that 46% of internal software projects do not meet the initial requirements. Worse, 43% of the projects delivered are over budget and 49% are overdue; if they are launched at all. Before you know it, your project may be lumped together and forgotten.

2. The work never ends

In addition to needing the in-house expertise to build an EHS platform, you also need to be prepared that your IT team will be working on this project for months, perhaps years, to come. Once the solution is live, the work doesn't end there. The solution must be continuously maintained and upgraded to keep abreast of industry trends and comply with government regulations.

3.You need more IT staff on the payroll

Another important factor to consider is the hiring and support of your staff. If your solution is built internally, you will also need to provide internal support. This means that you will have to hire more IT support staff to process the influx of applications. Companies with internal solutions end up spending 80% of their budget on maintenance.

Of course, there are advantages to building an EHS platform in-house. In short, let's make a good old-fashioned pros and cons list:

Advantages:

  • Tailored to your business needs
  • Full control
  • Developers know the product well
  • Ownership of the code
  • Developer support
  • New features implemented on demand

Disadvantages:

  • Extended development time
  • Internal Resource Drain
  • Software quickly becomes obsolete
  • No scaling
  • No documentation or training and minimal support
  • Ongoing support and maintenance costs
  • Stability and safety issues

If you can find a way to offset the pros and cons, you've got your answer. Start building your own solution.

Bij aankoop van EHS software

In the past, companies did not have the option to purchase ready-to-use EHS management systems. This technology has only recently become widely available at a reasonable price. In addition, most ICT decision makers did not tolerate the few turnkey solutions due to lack of transparency, limited integrations, security issues, etc. On the business side, purchasing EHS software was avoided because companies did not want to compromise in terms of of features and functionality.

However, now you can evaluate a handful of EHS management software solutions, with enough features and functionality for almost any industry. At one end of the spectrum are the highly specialized EHS platforms that provide solutions for specific verticals. On the other hand, there are the all-in-one platforms that come with a plethora of features and can be customized to suit the needs of any business.


However, there are some important questions to ask yourself before purchasing any EHS software:

  1. How customizable are the available solutions?
  2. How user-friendly are these solutions?
  3. Can we adapt our process to one of the existing solutions?
  4. What changes should we make to our business processes?
  5. How much time does it take to configure and deploy the solution?
    Does the company provide assistance with setting it up?
  6. What integrations do we need?
  7. What are the maintenance options?
  8. Does the supplier have customers in our industry?

Despite the variety of solutions out there, implementing a turnkey EHS management system can feel like trying to fit a square into a round hole. Let's see why.

The 4 things you need to know when buying ready-made EHS software

1. It may work for others, but not for you

An industry-focused solution may claim to 'understand your business', but in reality it may not be 100% true. Every organization has its own EHS process, which means that a solution tailored to the workflow is usually required.

2.Your data is on their servers

Then there is the security issue. Usually your data is hosted in the cloud, on your supplier's servers. It's great if they're GDPR compliant, but how comfortable are you with storing and processing your sensitive business data on a third-party platform?

3. 3. 'Adaptable' is a slippery term

While most out-of-the-box EHS solutions are customizable, there's a limit to how much you can customize. Usually you will eventually have to adapt your business processes to the solution, not the other way around. This can wreak havoc in your organization as you have to inform everyone about the changes.

4. "We'll add that in a future update."

Finally, when it comes to adding new features, it's very unlikely you'll get your suggestions implemented quickly. After all, prebuilt software serves hundreds or even thousands of customers who all make requests for different functions. So you can wait up to 1-2 years until the functionality is actually implemented; if that is ever the case. With some vendors, you can only hope that custom capabilities will be developed, but that will mean a significant increase in your licensing costs.

Just like building, buying a turnkey EHS solution has both positive and negative sides. So, how about making a pros and cons list again?

Advantages:

  • Covers most of your requirements
  • Major economies of scale
  • Work guaranteed, with fewer bugs
  • Automated upgrades
  • Low Total Cost of Ownership

Disadvantages:

  • Might not meet your unique needs
  • Limited customization options (if applicable)
  • Cannot integrate with your current IT systems
  • Have to wait for features to be developed (if any)
  • Security interests
  • Limited control

If you decide to go for a ready-made solution, make sure you make the comparison. Only when you are able to weigh the pros and cons should you commit to buying.

Hopefully, this has made it easier for us to choose between building or buying a solution. Let us know in the comments what your choice fell on and why!