EHS software: Customised vs off-the-shelf software

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  • Nov 3, 2021
  • 10 min read

Among the various software modern businesses use, the QHSE software is sometimes an underrated hero. That’s partly because the software is about quality, safety and compliance, and hence the EHS management system doesn’t come across as something that’s as stylish or growth-focused as a CRM or something similar.

And yet, if there’s one software modern businesses need if they are to compete and grow in the most challenging situations, it’s EHS management software.

What is QHSE

A QHSE management software is a software technology used to automate safety program management, manage compliance requirements and protect the safety of employees.

The QHSE management system (the letters QHSE stand for Quality, Health, Safety and Environment respectively), is variously referred to as HSE or EHS software. It lets you centralize processes, documents and resources in a way that you can control quality levels, automate admin activities, and prevent undesirable events.

In addition to that, you can use it to assign tasks and trigger events or actions, based on deadlines or conditions.

Should my business opt for EHS software?

As digitization becomes the norm in businesses of all sizes, this question isn’t truly accurate, because software products are overwhelmingly superior to manual tasks. Therefore, it’s more a question of ‘how soon’, rather than ‘whether’.

Answering the following three questions will help you determine how urgently you must opt for QHSE software.

1. How much time does reporting (whether manual or spreadsheet-based) rob my teams of the time they might have otherwise invested in more meaningful activities, like chasing growth or process improvement?

If you think your teams are staring at a potential burnout, it’s time you engage them in more fulfilling activities and let automated systems do the repetitive admin tasks.

2. Are we spending more time than ever before, looking for the right data and formats?

If you are already spending more time in such activities than earlier, rest assured that compliance requirements will only rise. Bring in software and automation before you are completely swamped by such tasks.

3. Are we doing enough to simultaneously improve productivity and minimize operational risks for teams?

Chances are you’re opting for safety for your teams, but at the expense of productivity. It doesn’t have to be that way; you can achieve productivity and safety at the same time, if you have the right software in place.

Benefits of EHS digitization

For many years, businesses have digitized EHS and relied upon software to meet the various requirements. Digitalization has  helped businesses bring in quality control, compliance with federal regulations, and, in general, ensure comprehensive digital transformation.

Businesses that have a manual EHS system are rare to find, and even businesses using spreadsheets are becoming difficult to find today. That’s because software is hugely more powerful, agile, and robust.

Here are the principal benefits of EHS digitization:

1. Centralized and organized: One of the biggest safety and compliance risks is that information is siloed. Compliance deadlines may pass by and your teams might still be searching for that one particular piece of data, just because different data resides in different places.

The digitization of the EHS management system ensures that all data is centralized. This makes it easy for your teams to collaborate and exchange data on a need-to-know basis. In other words, your teams know that every piece of data they’ll need will be available in one place.

Moreover, centralization of data means the formats of data remain uniform. In absence of a centralized system, one department may have to waste hours hammering data received from another department just to make sure they get the data in the format they need. Centralization means that your data formats are standards, making data collection, storage, and retrieval efficient.

2. Easy, accurate, and timely reporting: As you grow, more industry watchdogs and federal authorities come into picture. That puts more pressure on you, because you must ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

Thankfully, EHS software will make compliance and reporting easy for you. Even with tons of data, you will always have easy and quick access to the report you need.

This means you’ll be able to report on a timely basis, even while you pursue your business growth goals.

3. Fully reliable and robust: On the one hand, advanced data collection tools can flood you with data. On the other hand, authorities ask for reports on the most unusual stuff. In the light of all this, inadvertent mistakes can be expensive in more ways than one.

A QHSE management software is not only comprehensive but also reliable and robust. Because the reports are automated, there’s no way human errors can jeopardize things. Besides, it is robust enough to keep churning out report after report, without any error or fatigue.

4. Easy to steer: Reporting isn’t the only goal you achieve with EHS software. Because it’s a centralized system, the software allows your teams to join hands and collaborate.

Because everyone is on the same page, it becomes a great deal easier and faster to assign activities and tasks. And because it’s an automated system, follow-ups are prompt and persuasive – a bit like tickets in customer service portals that remain open until they are satisfactorily closed.

Off-the-shelf vs customized EHS software

For some time now, SaaS products have been available to take care of most of your quality, safety and health requirements. As a part of your digital transformation, health and safety standards were mostly met with these products.

While many of these SaaS products are great, you’ll agree that theirs is a one-size-fits-all approach. Such products have multiple modules and you’re expected to select and use the features you need. In other words, an off-the-shelf HSE management system is a good idea as a quick patch solution, but it comes with lots of riders.

A ready-to-use system, while faster to implement, can only take you so far. That’s because of a variety of reasons. However, the main reason it doesn’t meet all your needs is that the system is designed for no one in particular.

A customized EHS management system scores over SaaS products in virtually all fields. Here’s the top 4 reasons why businesses choose tailormade health, safety and environment management systems over off-the-shelf SaaS products.

1. Customized EHS software means better reporting:

In the modern world, no two industries are identical. The environment requirements for a company manufacturing headphones will be vastly different from a business offering advisory services. As a matter of fact, even two businesses within the same industry may have different needs, depending upon the scale of operation, geographies where they are present and so on.

It’s not possible for a SaaS product to serve each according to their needs. It means that if you use a SaaS product, you’ll always be short of some reports or data that the authorities absolutely need.

A tailor-made software, on the other hand, will have gone the extra mile to understand the smallest of your requirements. It will not only map out each of the reports you currently need but also lay out how you can generate reports in new formats, should your requirements expand in future.

2. Customized EHS software virtually eliminates non-compliance

When you rely on manual processes for compliance, there’s always a chance that some human error keeps you from fully complying. An off-the-shelf software doesn’t let things pass by but it has its own limitations.

For example, there’s no way you can generate a specific report out of the readymade QHSE software – a report that only your business needs. As a result, you end up either spending too many resources on that one single report or face the risk of non-compliance.

A custom-built EHS software already knows what your requirements are, so there’s no question of you wasting time on hunting for a particular report. In such a software, extracting data and compiling reports out of that data is based purely on your business needs.

Hence, it brings you peace of mind that comes only when you know you have fully met the statutory requirements and that there’s nothing pending. This assurance lets you focus on your business, marketing, talent acquisition or product development, whichever is the priority for your business at that time.

3. Customized EHS software keeps your real costs down

On the face of it, some SaaS products that are offered as solutions to your EHS management system appear to be cost effective. Even a quick fact-checking will tell you that’s not the case.

To begin with, a SaaS product is typically a subscription-based product, so you’ll be shelling out money every month or year. Against that, a customized EHS software is yours with a single payment.

However, there’s more. The readymade SaaS product isn’t designed to suit your requirements; you have to fit your requirements to whatever they offer. As a result, such SaaS products will be loaded with features that you will never need.

In other words, a SaaS product kind of forces you to pay for features that you’ll not be using. That drives up the cost and doesn’t make the product any leaner. Against that, your tailor-made software has only those features that you need. That means you pay only for what you really need.

4. Customized EHS software offers a better ROI

Aah, now’re talking! A readymade SaaS product typically requires you to keep paying on a monthly basis. In many cases, upgrades will cost you extra even if you don’t need most of the features of the upgrade. Also, future monthly payments may be revised upwards, costing you even more money.

Against that, your customised QHSE management software is precision-made. You have made a one-time payment and that’s it – no future cash outflows. This ensures that you know what exactly it costs you – no uncertainties of future payments.

Summarily, it means the costs of a customized software are lower, clear and precise.

Closing words

There’s no two opinions that modern technology is hugely more effective when it comes to mitigating risks, ensuring safety, and streamlining incident investigation. Further, a custom-built software is more powerful and reliable when it comes to nailing deficiencies, reporting as required and putting in remedial activities.

So what should a business like yours do? How do you understand, with real-life usecase, the way other businesses have benefitted? Naturally you’d like to understand the challenges and the deliverables involved.

We encourage you to check out our case study where we have discussed how our client went around having customized QHSE software. You’ll be able to draw clear parallels and arrive at a conclusion. Here’s the link to the case study

And yes, we’d love to answer any questions you might have before or after you read the case study!

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