The start of a new year is always a great time to kick off a new EHS software solution project.
If you’re in the market for a new EHS software solution, first of all, congratulations! Whether you’re an EHS manger or a member of the executive team, it’s a powerful decision that has the potential to transform the way your organization does business and empower healthier, safer, smarter, and more sustainable outcomes.
Now, where to begin?
Ideally, your software buying process should start with a review of your organization’s overall process. A little preparation can save you a lot of time, money, and headache. Here, we’ve outlined the most critical questions you should be able to answer before you embark on your EHS software purchase process.
Have I defined my problems, opportunities, and priorities?
Before you start evaluating EHS software solutions, you need to know exactly what you’re looking for and how these needs align with your organization’s strategic, operational, sustainability, and risk management objectives. Define your solution requirements and make sure you understand what the priorities are within your organization. This means consulting your potential end users and subject matter experts. Get them involved in the project as early as possible so you can better understand organizational challenges and where the real pain points and procedural gaps are.
In addition, you should identify key stakeholders among your executive team – we call them “Champions” (people who have power and influence to drive programs) and “Economic Buyers” (an Economic Buyer – a person who can ultimately say Yes or No and determine whether or not a project has the proper impact). Their input is key to ensuring that the outcomes the solution delivers meet your organization’s strategic objectives and will impact downstream requirements and objectives in the buying process. Executive sponsors will also be needed downstream when it comes to funding and approval, so the sooner these stakeholders are identified, the better.
In some cases, it may be worthwhile to consider engaging an outside consultant to help with this process. It can be beneficial to get a neutral third-party opinion of where your areas of risk are. For instance, if you’re managing your safety program using spreadsheets, where does that leave you open to fines or other disciplinary action?
Have I engaged IT?
IT is the stakeholder that’s forgotten most often. Having IT on board and engaged early in the process is a huge help when purchasing an EHS software solution. Even if your potential vendors include multi-tenant SaaS providers and there’s a light load on the IT department, your IT staff will be an invaluable resource about technology requirements at your organization. We recommend engaging them early, rather than hoping they don’t get in your way.
For any software project, there are a couple of IT workflows you must familiarize yourself with. The first are the IT architecture requirements. Your organization may have specific requirements as to how software must be structured and your IT staff will be deeply familiar with them. This includes everything from supported web browsers and mobile devices to the location of servers. Second are the IT security requirements. Typically, IT will provide a highly detailed security questionnaire to prospective vendors in order to establish if they meet the organization’s standards for digital security and protection. Familiarizing yourself with both of these sets of requirements ahead of time will allow you to quickly screen potential vendors, as well as expedite IT security approvals.
Regardless of how much involvement IT will have after implementation, get them involved early and often in the buying process. IT can’t always give you the thumbs up, but they can always give you the thumbs down.
Do I understand my organization’s buying process?
Every company is a little different when it comes to the nuts and bolts of the software procurement process. Some companies require you follow a formal buying procedure that involves screening vendor presentations and obtaining detailed quotes. Others look for an RFI, followed by an RFP. Some companies also require the formation of a buying committee.
Understanding the unique buying process for your organization is critical. You can do this by engaging your procurement contacts and talking through the process. Tell them what you want to do, and see what procedures dictate how you can get from Point A (identification of need) to Point B (software purchase).
Have I established executive sponsorship?
As we mentioned earlier, identifying and engaging Champions and Economic Buyers as executive sponsors early in the process is key. Larger corporate projects typically require a sponsor or supporter at the VP level or higher, so be sure to get approval from your Champion and/or Economic Buyer before you engage vendors. It may be the entire executive team or just one person, but without an executive sponsorship, you are not going to be successful in your purchase.
So how do you convince your potential sponsor to get on board? Create a compelling business case. Remember, for the executive team, numbers typically speak louder than words. Make sure you tie your justification to the bottom line and other objective metrics that your executive team cares about. Software vendors, EHS consulting firms, and independent analyst firms such as Verdantix can assist you in building ROI justifications to help with this process. If members of the executive team can clearly see the business value in your proposition, they will be much more likely to support you through the project.
Everything you need to know to select and implement the right EHS Software Solution
Ready to take the next step in your journey? Check out The Ultimate Guide to EHSQ Software Success, which walks through everything you need to know to secure buy-in, choose the right EHS software solution, and ensure your initiative is a success.