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E2 Top 10 Things When Selecting a EMIS


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E2 Top 10 Things When Selecting a EMIS

  1. 1. The Top 10 things to consider when selecting an EMIS! By Jason Brezski and Joanne Schroeder, PE5000 E. Spring Street Suite 720 Long Beach, California 90815 866-609-3374
  2. 2. Sellecttiing an EMIIS:: Se ec ng an EM S Top 10 Consiiderattiions Top 10 Cons dera ons E2 ManageTech, Inc. (E2) is the definition can be a somewhat arduous process when leader in designing and starting from scratch. Nevertheless, taking the time implementing Environmental to specify functional requirements is a useful Health & Safety Management exercise that will help to minimize the chance of Information Systems (EMISs). buying something that cannot solve your long-term As a software-neutral company, information management needs. EMIS consultants we are often asked what are the have extensive experience in requirementsmost important things to consider when selecting an definition and can lend a hand to guide you throughEMIS. Based on 12 years of experience assessing the process quickly and efficiently.and using environmental, health and safety (EHS) It is essential to involvesoftware, we have compiled our very own “top ten” 2. Involve your IT your Informationlist. department early Technology (IT) EHS professionals seeking a department early in the software selection process. 1. Requirements new EMIS often start the They have important information that must be Definition process by perusing vendor considered in choosing a software solution. Theywebsites, attending webinars etc. and, before long, may have a preference or even requirement forfind themselves receiving calls from software vendor software to either be hosted externally or installedsales representatives. In many cases, the process internally behind your company’s firewall. Thecontinues on to sales demonstrations and ultimately nature of the installation alone can limit the choicea vendor selection. The unfortunate reality in this of vendors. In the instance that your IT departmentcommon scenario is that the EHS professionals may prefers software to be hosted, they will likely havehave never actually documented exactly what they standards that the vendors must adhere towant the software to do. This important step is regarding security, reporting, single sign-on,called “functional requirements definition.” Some integration with other company data sources andbasic examples of requirements would be: data recoverability. Likewise, if they prefer that software be installed internally behind the firewall, • The system must produce Occupational your IT department will need to know what type of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hardware is required of the software and will have 300 log; preferences or rules about which backend databases • The system must provide escalating email (e.g. Oracle vs. SQL Server) are supported internally, notifications for overdue tasks” which may further limit the prospective vendor pool. • The system must provide for waste These preferences and requirements are called container tracking and aggregation prior to technical requirements and, similarly to functional offsite shipment requirements, must be considered whenSoftware demonstrations given without selecting software. Afterconsideration of functional requirements will tend to all, your IT departmentfocus primarily on the strengths of that particular will be responsible forsoftware package, and will also make it very difficult many aspects of theto do an “apples to apples” evaluation of various technical support of thesolutions. In the end, the client may unwittingly end system, from systemup selecting software primarily on the presentation availability, networkskills of the vendor sales team. Requirements access, desktop support page 1
  3. 3. Sellecttiing an EMIIS:: Se ec ng an EM S Top 10 Consiiderattiions Top 10 Cons dera onsand, potentially, integrations with existing internal business processes andsystems such as your email application, HR database, 4. Configurability vs. reporting requirements,work order system etc. Also, IT departments’ Out-Of-The-Box as this will have anservices are typically in high demand; therefore, it is impact on the level of configurability that isbest to alert them early in the process that you are necessary in the solution you select. In the EMISconsidering purchasing software. marketplace, there tends to be a natural divide between systems that are designed to be very The number one killer to 3. Avoid “not configurable versus those that are less readily successful software invented here” configurable yet designed to efficiently perform implementations is end- certain functions such as complex emissionsuser revolt! If you are evaluating software that will calculations, discharge monitoring reports etc. out ofbe used by many people in various roles across your the box. For example, there are many softwareorganization, you need to identify all appropriate solutions on the market that can be configured tostakeholders and get them involved early to ensure match your unique business process and workflowtheir needs are properly considered. Otherwise you for incident management and corrective action/taskmay find that important stakeholders that were left tracking. Generally, tools with extensive workflowout of the design process may develop a “not configurability tend to be more challenged byinvented here” mindset, meaning that the system information management needs such as datacannot work for them since they did not have input collection and reporting to support emissionsinto the design. At this point you have a significant inventory calculations. On the other hand, someuphill battle to overcome before you even deploy tools may be adept at integrating with datathe solution. For example, two sites doing the same historians, crunching data and producing complexoperations in two different geographical locations, reports, but tend to be more rigid in terms ofreporting to two different site managers, may have workflow configurability and, therefore, may not bevastly different reporting needs and, therefore, the perfect match for your unique incidentvastly different data collection needs. Facilities management and correction action/task trackingoften have their own methods to track and report workflows.information and it can be difficult to sell them on thebenefits of using a central system that may These are certainly tendencies more than rules andcompromise the interface, workflow, and reporting the two sides continue to converge as the EMISto which they are accustomed. When their needs software market matures and evolves.are not properly considered, they may be forced to Nevertheless, it is important for EMIS shoppers tocontinue to use their own legacy systems in tandem understand the balance between adjusting currentwith new systems and the new system will be business processes to the workflow that is built intoperceived as an unnecessary redundancy. User the software while at the same time ensuring thatacceptance is an important issue that needs to be complex data management and reporting can beconsidered early on. The first steps are to identify all readily accomplished by software tools that arestakeholders, get them involved early to ensure their inherently designed to be tremendouslyneeds are considered, and do your best to ensure configurable.that end users have the proper incentives to utilizethe new system.As you search for a software solution, it is importantto understand how much flexibility there is in your page 2
  4. 4. Sellecttiing an EMIIS:: Se ec ng an EM S Top 10 Consiiderattiions Top 10 Cons dera ons When we engage able to readily produce meaningful output reports 5. Consider the benefit with clients for a from all that data. This occurs primarily because of of imbedded best software design and our sense as EHS professionals that we should practices selection process, one record data that appears to meaningful in some way.of the first items we need to uncover is the current Yet we tend not to envision the analytics that can bestate of the business processes we are seeking to produced from that data at the time it’s beingautomate through software. Some clients have very collected. Consequentially, the data is not beingrigid and successful business processes that are not collected in a way that it can be readily rolled up,subject to tinkering, whereas others recognize that normalized, parsed, etc. and the result is that there’sthere may be opportunities for improvement. For a monthly or quarterly scramble to pull together lotsthe latter, it is quite common for clients to expect of data from many disparate sources. It is difficult tosome level of business process improvement to go escape this pattern, even if you are purchasing thealong with the move towards increased data latest and greatest software solution, unless youautomation. This is where we typically get into a make the effort to understand your reporting needsconversation as to whether or not you need to find a up front. This will inherently define the informationsolution that fits your business process like a glove – you need to collect in the system and how theperfect fit, or like a mitten – it’s got you covered but system needs to be configured to produce thethere’s room to move around. reports you need.If you have some flexibility in your approach to Equally important is understanding how much canoptimizing your business processes, it is worth be accomplished with standard reports offered byunderstanding that most mature EMIS solutions the solution vs. reports that will need to bebenefit from years of tweaking of business processes developed. A software solution that offers greatthrough input gleaned from scores of EHS dashboarding capabilities out-of-the-box will stillprofessionals from many different industry require some forethought, some configurationbackgrounds. A typical software upgrade release effort, and organized data. Also, in order to supportschedule is a major release annually and minor ad hoc reporting and/or morereleases and/or patches every few months. Major complex calculations, you’ll need toreleases typically contain fairly significant know if the system has a built-infunctionality enhancements. This is necessary to calculation engine and ad hockeep the software perpetually current and querying capabilities and what theirmarketable. This constant process of improving an limits are. If not, you’ll want toalready mature and successful product inherently know if the system can integratebenefits customers with industry best practices that with your company’s standardare built into the solution. reporting tools. What is the point of collecting Once you have narrowed 6. Reporting 7. Evaluate the data if you are not going to do down the software Vendor, not justsomething with it? It is very common for our new market to a smaller the softwareclients to collect all sorts of data in all sorts of ways, number of solutions thatwhether manually via paper-based forms and can potentially meet bothspreadsheets, or via numerous freestanding silo your functional and technical requirements, it is timedatabases, or even via centrally located widely to get to know the vendor a little better. If yourdeployed systems, yet are limited in terms of being purchasing department gets involved, they will likely page 3
  5. 5. Sellecttiing an EMIIS:: Se ec ng an EM S Top 10 Consiiderattiions Top 10 Cons dera onswant to know the financial backing of the company, “Does the system perform as you expected it toannual revenue, and growth rates etc. All of this is based on vendor demonstrations?” Record thefor good reason. You would hate to be at the hip responses and consider them as you make your finalwith the latest and greatest software vendor when decision. Your IT department will likely interrogatesuddenly their venture the vendor from a technical standpoint. It is yourcapital pulls out! There are job to make sure they are going to meet youralso other important business needs and have the experience andconsiderations that EHS solutions that you are expecting from them.professionals will want to be Proper phasing is crucial toaware of, such as, 9. How will software implementationunderstanding the module phasing success. It’s very rare thatdevelopment roadmap of be prioritized? clients choose to go for thethe vendor. Ideally, the vendor is progressing the “big bang” implementation, meaning purchase allsoftware in directions that benefit your business and applicable modules and deploy all at once. Althoughline up with future phases of deployment that you this approach can be somewhat cost effective whenenvision could be useful or even necessary. Also, it considering the economies of scale to be gained inis good to know if the vendor supports organized negotiating licensing fees for purchasing manyuser groups or communities that you can participate modules simultaneously, most clients simply don’tin and potentially influence their software have the personnel resources and/or fundingdevelopment roadmap. available to dedicate to doing a full-scale The proof is in the pudding. deployment of all modules. Instead, most of our 8. Talk to client Software vendors can dazzle clients choose to phase the system deployment over references with demonstrations tailored your functional requirements, examples of Some clients do indeed choose to purchase licensingnumerous regulatory reporting outputs and formats, for modules intended to be deployed in futureand dashboards that match the style of your phases in addition to first phase modules in order towebsite. But how do you know that everything you take advantage of potential discounts for licensinghave been shown is actually available today in the numerous modules. But even in this scenario, someproduct? How do you know exactly how much effort level of phasing for actual deployment is typicallygoes into making the examples you were sold on the norm. More commonly, the question is not “bigactually work for you in the system? It is vitally bang” versus phasing, butimportant to ask for client references and talk to rather when choosing tothose references about their experiences. People Softtware dep o yments Sofftwarre depllloymentts So wa e dep oymen s phase the modules in, may enttaiiill changes fforr may enta l changes fo rtend to focus more on client references that are may en a changes o how to prioritize the how end users do th e rr how end userrs do ttheiiirspecific to their industry, but it is arguably more how end use s do he order of module jjjobs;; ttherrefforre,,, culllturralll o bs; th ere fo re cu ttura obs he e o e cu u aimportant to make sure you are getting references deployment. It is accepttance off tthe accepta nce of th e accep ance o hefor customers who are using the same functional important to recognize softtware s cru c a to sofftwarre iiis crruciiialll tto so wa e s c uc a omodules or components that you are planning to that software tthe success off tthe th e success of th e he success o hepurchase, regardless of their industry. It is helpful to deployments may entail a pro e ct. prrojjjectt.. p o eccreate a questionnaire for discussions with client significant change to thereferences, such as, “How long have you been using way end users do their jobs; therefore, it is crucialthe system,” “Was implementation easier or more for the software to become culturally accepted. Thedifficult than expected or promised by the vendor,” page 4
  6. 6. Sellecttiing an EMIIS:: Se ec ng an EM S Top 10 Consiiderattiions Top 10 Cons dera onslarger the group of initial end users, the more first line of support when end users have “how to”important this becomes. questions or need something changed within the application. This person also typically maintains theWhen our clients are deploying modules that will business relationship with the vendor andimpact a large number of end users, we typically implementation consultants throughout the lifecycleadvise them to start with modules that will require of the software solution.minimal training, yet be frequently used. The idea isto provide a simple introduction to the system and The percentage of time this person needs toget the system culturally accepted prior to moving to dedicate to this role varies significantly based oncomplex workflows. For example, if a client has their specific implementation but, generally, the roleincident management and auditing/assessments as a will require fairly significant effort during the earlyhighest priority from a business standpoint, it may months of entering the support role. We typicallybe advantageous to start with task tracking since advise our clients to have at least one super user forboth incident management and audits will generate the system but, in order to help spread out thetasks. Start by rolling out task management to a workload, it may be helpful to assign additionallarge group of users and assign simple, yet people to be subject matter experts for each modulemeaningful routine tasks. Once you have achieved that are able to help with decision making regardingsuccess there, you are ready to move on to more configuration changes, conducting training, etc.challenging workflows. Your IT department will also have a role going forward, particularly if the solution is hosted behind Once you move 10. Long-term internal your firewall. They will be responsible for the beyond your initial resources for system technical side of things, such as, database implementation and administration administration, system uptime, application of declare it a success, patches and upgrades will move from the implementation phase to thesupport phase. Logically, it would seem that at this It is important to recognize early in your planningpoint the hard work is over. Realistically though, in phases of the EMIS selectionall likelihood there are far fewer resources available process that there will be long-to help support and sustain the project than were term internal resourcesavailable during implementation. Therefore, you will required to help maintain theneed someone to be the system administrator. system and keep it current and useful to your business longAlthough you can potentially outsource this role, after the initial deployment.most organizations assign someone internally toown and manage the system. The system Joanne Schroeder, PE, is a Principal at E2 ManageTech and has anadministrator, generally speaking, is not someone extensive background in selecting and designing EMIS’ spanning the full breadth of EHS topics and in virtually every industry. She has beenfrom your IT department. The system administrator on the forefront of this industry for the last 15 years. Ms. Schroederis usually someone within the EHS organization who can be contacted at intimately involved with the implementation. Jason Brezski is a project manager at E2 ManageTech and isThe system administrator is basically a super-user responsible for EMIS solution design and implementation. He has ledwho understands the business side of the cross-functional teams in the design and implementation of systems ranging from fully custom solutions to enterprise off-the-shelfapplication but can also perform some level of applications. His clients have spanned numerous industries includingtechnical work on the system such as security pharmaceutical/biotech, chemical, aerospace, pipeline, generalconfiguration, organizational hierarchy changes, manufacturing, utilities, and public agencies. Mr. Brezski can beadvanced reporting etc. This person is typically the contacted at page 5