Whether this is your first time shopping for online environmental health and safety (EHS) software or you’re upgrading from a legacy solution, this buyer’s guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that works best for you and your company.
Environmental health and safety (EHS) software acts as a data management system for capturing, storing, and analyzing information related to occupational health and safety. EHS solutions are primarily used by businesses to maintain regulatory compliance by monitoring safety performance metrics, recording and tracking workplace incidents, and performing inspections and other safety activities. Safety professionals and compliance officers also use EHS software to guide risk management analysis and implement corrective actions.
Safety Management Software can be a powerful tool for any business seeking to ensure company-wide employee safety as well as continued compliance with regulatory standards. An electronic, centralized system for the management of all safety-related information will carry significant benefits for any organization, including:
Online EHS management software systems are generally very robust and offer many features, including some you possibly may never use. As a result, you’ll want to find a system that best matches your company’s needs. We’ve broken some common criteria for evaluating EHS software down into several smaller sections, which are listed below.
Beginning in the 1980s up until the early 2000s, there was really only one way to purchase software. You would make a one-time purchase and install the software on a server or hard drive. If you wanted to update to a new version, you needed to make a second purchase in order to update or overwrite the existing program.
Then, the mid-2000s gave rise to a new model of software: software as a service (SaaS). With a SaaS platform, users pay a subscription fee and receive much more regular software updates automatically over the internet. Today, SaaS models are virtually ubiquitous and it’s extremely likely that you’ve used that type of software, regardless of whether or not you were familiar with that “SaaS” term. For example, the Microsoft Office Suite is a SaaS model.
In the EHS space, there are many SaaS safety management software providers to choose from. However, there are still some vendors that operate a hybrid SaaS model that lies somewhere between software and true SaaS. The table below outlines some of the key features of each type of software so you can decide what model works best for your needs.
There’s probably nothing more important for a safety management system than for it to have an intuitive and simple user experience. This is true for employees and for those who will perform administrative roles when using the system.
When software is straightforward for end-users to use and navigate, efficiency and user adoption increase dramatically. During sales demonstrations of the product, or if you’re given trial-access to a sandbox or demo site, consider the following points.
Understandably, software purchasers want to buy a piece of software that does exactly what they want it to. However, the more complex your requirements are, the less likely it is that a piece of software is going to come out of the box meeting those requirements. In order to meet your specific needs, the software must either be configured, or customized, or perhaps a combination of both.
These two common buzzwords — “configured” and “customized”—come up frequently within the software marketplace. The problem is that these terms are not always well defined so there can be a fair bit of confusion. To clear things up, we’ve broken down the differences between these two development approaches in the following paragraphs.
Customization is a modification or a feature of software that requires custom coding by a programmer. Customizations can range from fairly basic to very invasive changes to the core application.
To put it simply, customizations mean more effort and more risk. This is because a programmer is working outside the means in which an application was specifically developed. Custom code tends to break in future upgrades and is generally costly to maintain over time, so many vendors decline to offer custom solutions and instead choose to meet customers’ requirements through configurations.
A configuration is where you use native tools within the system to change its features or behavior. For example, you can configure your email inbox so that you can filter out emails from a specific contact into its own folder or tab.
Compared to customizations, configurations mean much less effort and less risk. This is because tools within the application are being used to make changes in a way that the software was designed to offer.
We advise looking for a solution that offers robust configuration tools so that you can make changes on your own in minutes. When examining options, consider the following questions:
Some EHS management systems allow you to utilize security roles so you can control the amount of administrative access people at your company will have within the system. Below are some things to consider regarding security roles and the ability to grant more or less administrative powers to workers at your company.
Being able to organize the employees in your workforce to make reporting easier and more specific can be very helpful.
Does the system allow you to organize your workforce in order to run reports on specific employees based on job title, work area, department, site, and/or other logical and relevant units?
You’ll also want to determine whether the platform can easily integrate with your existing software systems (HR, payroll, TPAs) that you are already using so that location and employee data can be consistently updated.
Your workers probably aren’t tied to their desks. They have to be on the move to meet challenges as they arise. When they’re on the go or working out in the field, a mobile-friendly EHS management solution is exactly what they’ll need.
As you shop, ask the following questions to gauge what mobile options providers offer.
Reporting is one of the most important aspects of an EHS management system. In addition, studies show that dissatisfaction with reporting capabilities is one of the most common reasons why companies quit using one EHS management system and begin using another. Automating certain tasks, including generating reports, can save a lot of time, effort, and frustration. Use the list below to be sure you get reporting and automation functionality that will serve you well.
It’s also important to choose the option that can meet your future needs in addition to your present needs.
Selecting the right EHS software solution is a challenging choice with many factors to consider. We hope that following through on some of the points and questions above can give some added value to your selection process.
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