Selecting SHEQ software
Selecting SHEQ software
Safety leaders can’t afford to waste their time with paper pushing exercises. Digitisation for its own sake isn’t the correct course either, though. Here are some steps to follow before committing to a specific suite of SHEQ software.
Markus Becker, co-founder and CEO of Quentic*, highlights that while SHEQ software does replace paper and pen, all solutions aren’t equal or necessarily the correct fit for a specific organisation. He notes that software solutions – typing data into different spreadsheets, or trying to analyse what you want to analyse – shouldn’t stress you as a safety leader.
“[Software solutions] should help you to do your job in a better way,” he says, adding that SHEQ software should also transfer billions, even trillions, of data points into information that provides knowledge.
How to choose the right software
Becker delivered a stellar presentation at the 2022 EHS Congress** that ties in perfectly with Quentic’s white paper: How to choose the right EHSQ software.
Before you can find the right SHEQ software, you need to identify your requirements. “At the very start of your search for a suitable SHEQ software solution, try to get an overview of what works well in your company and where improvements are needed,” Quentic advises. It advocates taking a look at different departments and their respective work processes, being receptive to personal requests and improvement suggestions from colleagues. This will inform you about what they expect from a SHEQ software solution. “Ultimately, these are the departments that will use the SHEQ software you select – and integrating them from the outset will boost engagement and foster trust in the process,” the paper emphasises.
It is also imperative to consider how you collaborate with decision-makers. “Employees often need specific software functions in order to carry out individual work steps. In contrast, managers are often more focused on getting a clear overview of resulting key performance indicators so that they can see the big picture,” notes Quentic. Finding out the needs of different stakeholders will help to identify where procedures can be simplified, synergies generated, and communication improved. “Determine which applications the solution could replace and where interfaces with other systems will have to be created and managed,” the paper adds.
You should also identify the points where time is being unnecessarily wasted. The paper highlights the example of a file being accidentally edited by more than one person, causing chaos. “Let’s say that two employees download the same document at the same time and carry on working in this copied version – entering new information with a time delay and accidentally overwriting existing data,” posits the paper.
“Information gaps and the lack of systematic documentation can soon lead to administrative tasks spiralling out of control. Ultimately, bringing all the documents fully up to date and informing employees of the corrections takes time and effort – which could otherwise have been spent on more productive tasks.” Problems like this, for example, can be remedied by using cloud software that incorporates all changes in real time.
How to convince and integrate employees
One common problem is the assumption that new software will be broadly accepted and successfully used. “In some cases, however, the people who will use the SHEQ software in their daily work are not sufficiently included in the decision-making process – and therefore might not be convinced of its benefits from the outset,” says Quentic.
Determining exactly who will use the software can often be simplified by dividing its future users into specialists, professional users, and occasional users. “Their needs can vary – and a broader circle of users makes it all the more important that the solution be intuitive to use. If the prospective users are only likely to be specialists, however, you can focus on attention to detail and flexibility,” Quentic suggests.
Use insights gained from examining the status quo at your company to show your colleagues which areas stand to benefit most from a new SHEQ solution. “You might persuade them by referencing its ability to lighten their workload, simplify processes, improve communication, and facilitate more reliable data and information management,” notes the paper.
At this point, it is crucial to address any doubts and give colleagues an opportunity to pose questions and provide feedback, with Quentic highlighting: “If employees are actively integrated in the decision-making processes and know that their needs are being heard, they are more likely to accept and ultimately use the new software.”
Convincing management and stakeholders
Managers of companies often look for ways and means to streamline processes and improve efficiency. The right software will make it possible to perform tasks with ease, as well as support monitoring, control, and general management. The final purchasing decision is often the direct remit of management and may well need to be signed off at a number of management levels. Because of this, Quentic emphasises the importance of considering both employees and management-level staff when choosing a new software solution.
“You need to make it clear that there are plausible, quantifiable benefits for all users. Safety, responsibility, liability, and sustainable business are key priorities for managers and executives, who contrast them with the costs involved. It is therefore important that you clearly demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of the new SHEQ software and highlight the extent to which it can contribute to the company’s overall success,” it says.
A business case is an effective presentation tool, letting you explore important aspects in more detail, and enabling you to reinforce your expertise in the eyes of managers and budget administrators. It also demonstrates that you have undertaken a detailed analysis of the issue with the company’s long-term objectives in mind. “In addition, you can provide a condensed overview of your solution’s functionality and cost effectiveness. A business case allows you to compile the best arguments in favour of investment in one place, outlining how it could lead to improvements in your company,” expands the paper. “Make sure to include hard, transparent and quantifiable facts, supplemented with further benefits of a new software solution.”
SHEQ software simplifies compliance activities
Compliance is one of the most effective arguments you can use to persuade employee representatives of the need to purchase a new SHEQ software solution. “This is because SHEQ software can maintain an overview of the various processes in place in your company and ensure that standards, regulations, and customer requirements are all met,” explains Quentic. “By using a SHEQ software solution, you can ensure that your processes conform to legal requirements. For management, this eliminates the risk of organisational and administrative faults and negligence.”
Selecting the right SHEQ software requires an initial time investment and a thorough analysis of your company’s current situation. Over the long-term, however, you will benefit from the ability to interlink processes and identify hidden potential in your company. “Involve your colleagues and employee representatives in the search for the right software at an early stage. This will allow you to identify all relevant requirements and secure the approval of the workforce as well,” emphasises the paper.
“Putting together a business case will help you present the (financial) benefits in a clear and analytical manner, and is a vital tool for convincing your company’s management of the need for a new SHEQ management software – so you can rest easy knowing you are ideally equipped for future endeavours and able to devote full attention to protecting everyone involved.”
* Quentic is one of the leading “software as a service” solution providers for SHEQ and ESG management. It is headquartered in Berlin, but has more than 900 customers across the globe.
** The fifth EHS Congress was held on September 13 and 14, 2022. It gathers senior health and safety executives in Berlin annually for a two-day powerhouse of unparalleled presentations on all things SHEQ related. We’ll provide more information on the 2023 show later this year.