Six Keys to Launching a Successful EHS&S Management System
January 10, 2024
By: Sameer Vyas
When it comes to managing environmental, health, safety and sustainability (EHS&S) activities, the stakes can be high. Poorly designed EHS&S software implementations have real consequences for the people and processes at the heart of an organization. In this blog, we’ll share six best practices for designing and launching successful EHS&S management systems.
Rolling out an EHS&S system is an intricate undertaking with significant impacts on organizations’ short and long-term operations. We encourage clients to start by bringing the project into focus with two questions – “What could go wrong?” and “What are the worst-case scenarios?” With the project in perspective, implementation teams are ready to deploy these six best practices for a robust rollout:
- Get buy-in
- Assemble the dream team
- Design effective processes
- Keep it simple
- Document thoroughly
- Plan for rollout
1. Get Buy-In
The success or failure of a project can often be traced to whether or not management committed early on. We suggest building a compelling case for an EHS&S system that goes beyond a compliance-focused view of EHS&S and taps into a cost-benefit mentality. This mindset-switch takes education and effort. Keep these principles in mind to demonstrate how EHS&S affects people, the planet, and profit:
- Poor EHS&S performance intrinsically leads to mitigated asset health.
- EHS&S performance is fundamentally linked to quality costs related to audits, CAPA, etc.
- EHS&S performance affects downtime and lost production from near misses, injuries, and spills.
- Poor EHS&S performance erodes agency and public trust – ultimately eroding the bottom line.
With management on board and aligned, consider documenting the agreed-upon objectives, timeline, and budget in a project charter to establish a source of high-level guidance for all stakeholders.
2. Assemble the Dream Team
Forming a cohesive team with the experience, insight and decision-making power to propel the project forward encourages informed and efficient processes. We recommend considering the following:
- Find representatives who can speak for their group or know who to ask for input when needed.
- Integrate relevant Subject Matter Experts and at least one representative from IT.
- Include one or two end-users who tend to champion new systems. These participants provide valuable feedback from the field and will help foster user adoption during system rollout.
3. Design Effective Processes
Launch projects strategically by determining how many planning workshops and other implementation work sessions are necessary and which team members and external stakeholders (implementation partners, software vendors, etc.) should participate in each event. Keep the attendee list manageable. If the participant list is too large (more than 4 – 6 people), it can make achieving consensus an uphill battle. When buy-in and input are needed from a wider audience, we suggest identifying a Core Design Team (e.g., 4 people) and a Design Validation Team (4 – 16 people).
With the participants identified, make sure everyone knows what to expect and what is expected of them. Bear in mind that some attendees may not have been involved in the software selection process, so additional demos or onboarding may be needed to ensure everyone has the information they need to contribute fully. Finally, whether sessions are in person or remote, it is vital to create an environment where participants are able to communicate freely and effectively and where strong team relationships can form. Setting a positive and collaborative tone pays dividends when challenges arise down the road.
4. Document Thoroughly
System documentation is often neglected as team members become busy or budgets tighten, but this short-term shortcut is costly in the long run. Without proper documentation, quality assurance, training, and support processes will be impeded by the recurring need to reverse engineer or troubleshoot by trial and error. These simple steps will keep documentation workflows manageable and consistent:
- Create video and audio recordings of each design session or workshop.
- Review decisions and next steps at the end of each session/day.
- Take detailed notes – then streamline and compile them into a central location or file.
- Track questions and resolve them after workshops as needed.
5. Keep it Simple
Clarify which system features are mandatory, which are “nice to have” AND which are not necessary. Without this analysis, it is easy to believe everything is needed and lose track of what is important.
Once the requirements are defined, try not to reinvent the wheel to meet them. Out-of-the-box solutions reduce implementation and support costs, so consider adapting to the proven processes available in your commercial system versus making it adapt to you. Start by focusing on the key requirements for launch, then enhance or modify later if it is determined that additional configuration or customization is necessary.
6. Plan for Rollout
After all the planning, designing, building, and testing, be sure to maintain momentum all the way to the finish line by planning the system rollout! Start by considering the following:
- Will you have a pilot rollout? Pilots can be useful for gathering feedback to fine-tune system design.
- How will users be trained? The outcome of system rollouts relies heavily on user adoption. Thorough and frequent training supports rapid, successful onboarding and system acceptance.
- Who will champion the new system? Spreading the word about the new system and creating positive “buzz” prior to rollout puts the change in context and further promotes acceptance across the organization.
- How will go-live be communicated? Clearly communicate Go Live logistics – timing, the login process, data entry expectations, availability of support, etc. – so stakeholders know what to expect.