Overhauling your EHS system and transitioning to software can be overwhelming – but doesn’t have to be! Experts recommend to phase the roll-out of a large EHS software project.
Especially in enterprises with thousands of staff, delivering the system in phases benefits functionality, user adoption, and—in the long term—cost.
Typically, platforms offer a range of modules that supercharge your EHS team. But as tempting as it sounds, rolling everything out at once is often not the best approach.
The dream may be to have everything (and have it yesterday!) but independent analyst firm Verdantix supports the phasing strategy, having found that introducing EHS modules step by step works best.
As something we advocate when implementing Pro-Sapien’s EHS software, let’s shine some light on the phased approach:
Why focus on only a few EHS processes at the start?
EHS software will help you save time, increase EHS awareness, and boost engagement across your organization. Although you can choose a platform that integrates with the likes of Microsoft 365, it’s still a change that users must adapt to.
You may want every module a vendor has on offer, but this comes with effort around configuring, testing, and training.
Alternatively, Andy Gray, Technical Director at Pro-Sapien explains why starting with a handful of EHS functionalities makes change control more manageable:
“Once people in the business are familiar with the software, they will find it easier to get acquainted with new modules. Adding future modules after you implemented a few at the start is a lot easier, almost like a bolt on to the ones employees are already using.”
In other words, you are breaking it down into bite sizes—for end users, and for the project team (that includes you!).
Nícolas Zein agrees with this approach from his experience, having worked as a software engineer at Creditas Tech:
“Often, the implementation of a new solution requires user training. If the rollout is phased, the training can also be phased. This way, lessons from the prior training are carried to the next training and, consequently, adherence to the solution is much quicker.”
How many modules should I start with?
While there is no limit to the modules you can end up with, we recommend starting with one to three (on top of the core product).
One to three modules lay the perfect groundwork for you to expand in the future.
A useful strategy is to group modules by business team. For example, phase one could focus on Safety functionality such as Incident Management and Risk Assessment, while phase two caters to Environmental with modules such as Energy Usage.
While all modules bring value to your company, splitting phases by category helps streamline training, facilitates smooth project coordination, and paves the way for a successful implementation.
What if I want more than a few modules though?
EHS industry research firms recommend a phased approach when you require a number of modules.
For example, Vesuvius, a company with 10,000 employees across 135 sites, rolled out Pro-Sapien’s modules gradually in 2021.
After internally considering their wide scope, Risk & Systems Manager Dr. Nigel Graham recognized the need for phases and suggests the same for other enterprises:
“Start small with one module that tests all functionality and connections. It costs a bit more but is better than a big bang approach.”
Verdantix also recognizes a phased approach as the best practice for EHS software implementation. According to their expertise, phasing multiple modules lets you:
- Tweak the process with feedback between each phase
- Adapt the time commitments required by different stakeholders
- Accommodate users’ readiness to change across global locations
All important success factors to consider.
What are popular modules to start with?
Importantly, you must prioritize your EHS requirements. Start by implementing what will make the biggest difference or what is time sensitive.
We asked Colin Clark, Senior Solutions Consultant at Pro-Sapien, about his experience on the most popular modules:
“Predominantly, large companies, especially those in high-risk industries, need an efficient system to report and manage incidents. So, I’d say 70% of our clients roll out Incident Management first. Additionally, Inspections and Audits software complements it very well as these are active modules to prevent incidents from happening in the first place, and help you stay compliant by being proactive about EHS.”
Andy Gray, Technical Director at Pro-Sapien, agrees:
“At Pro-Sapien, many initial implementations include Incident Management. This is because if Incident Management is on the list of requirements, it’s typically the one that encompasses the most varied set of users through a multi-stage workflow.”
Furthermore, if it’ll also be used for near miss reporting, this may be one of your most used EHS modules.
Other modules such as Energy Tracking offer significant value but are used by a narrower audience. Therefore, you might want to schedule modules like this further down the line.
However, priorities depend on your organization’s needs. Let’s look at how to figure these out.
How to decide on the right modules
Deciding on your EHS functionality priorities calls for careful consideration and won’t happen in one day.
Taking sufficient time to evaluate your requirements will help you align your EHS software project with business goals, thus also assisting in getting buy-in from the board.
To determine your needs, Verdantix recommends conducting internal workshop sessions. Engage with small, knowledgeable teams and involve relevant stakeholders.
In addition, think about the following:
- What will deliver quickest time to value?
- Are there any existing software license expiries to factor in?
- Which business teams are available when?
Speaking to vendors about which modules work well together can also be helpful. For example, at Pro-Sapien, we find that the Observations module works well alongside Incident Management, and our Scheduler couples nicely with Audits, Inspections and Energy Usage.
Who should be involved in decision-making?
Involving relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process of which EHS modules to start with makes sure everyone is on board.
This is crucial for a smooth project with the necessary resources, technical expertise, and leadership commitment.
For example, key stakeholders that should be consulted include:
- IT: Involve them as early as possible to prevent unforeseen delays
- Senior Management: Secure their buy-in to ensure sustained support through the process
- EHS team: Essential to understand the ‘as-is’ EHS processes and comment on real-world usability
- Project Manager: Will become the main point of contact and keeps the project on track
- Project Sponsor: Endorses the project from a leadership position and drives the project to success
Preparation ensures a smooth software project
Phasing a large EHS software project and introducing modules gradually minimizes complexity and allows for efficient configuring, testing, and training.
To ensure success, have a clear go-live plan, communicate changes to avoid resistance, and promote the transition internally.
Thanks to all your strategic planning, phase two will benefit from lessons learned and the software’s positive reputation throughout the company!
Are you ready to take your EHS to the next level? Find out how to build your business case for new EHS software!