The age-old saying “Safety First” has made major leaps in the recent years. Nowadays, many businesses are increasing their investments in workplace safety and compliance solutions.
This year, greater support from decision makers is expected to result in improved Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) programs. Workers will, in turn, be able to realize the benefits of this increased support from top management. Eventually, these will all contribute to a more empowered work culture. How can you ensure you’re selecting the best EHS software for business compliance and workplace management?
Safety and compliance investments do not come easily. These include, for instance, installing or shifting from one software to another, hiring new specialists, or rolling out training programs. However, these investments pay for themselves in lowered incident rates, stronger corporate image, and prevention of regulatory fines.
For instance, safety training and equipment upgrades help prevent chances of incidents occurring that would be otherwise avoidable. Regular compliance updates help individuals do their jobs better and without the fear of penalties.
Difference between ERM and GRC Solutions
Enterprise risk management (ERM) refers to the overall management of risk effects on the company’s earnings and investments. ERM solutions cover the preparation, organization, implementation, and support of the company’s operations to help minimize perceived risks in various aspects such as finance, operations, strategy, and even accidental losses.
ERM solutions enable you to identify risks and assess their perceived threats to the organization. These solutions can also help you efficiently quantify, manage, and monitor risks in an integrated manner.
On the other hand, governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) is a combined discipline created to handle the interdependencies between the three silos.
Governance refers to the top management’s overall management approach. Governance activities ensure that the high-level information submitted to the leadership team is accurate, complete, and timely to aid in better decision-making, strategy, and management. Risk management covers the identification, analysis, and response to risks that could affect the business’ goals while compliance ensures that the company conforms to regulatory requirements.
While ERM and GRC solutions might sound like one and the same, they differ in many ways. When it comes to fixing small projects around the house, what would you rather have? A small, handy Swiss Army Knife or a large toolbox? GRC is like a Swiss Army Knife. It can serve several functions and integrate business silos to avoid work overlaps and redundancies. However, ERM, like the big toolbox, has separate tools that are perceived to be more powerful and efficient for handling specific functions because of their individuality.
Compliance Solutions Features
The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) said that an 82 percent increase in fines will be implemented this 2016. To avoid unnecessary costs, it is vital for companies to stay updated on new compliance regulations. The year 2016 will see more EHS rules and more companies implementing a ‘zero tolerance’ culture for unsafe work behaviors.
Further, more companies are expected to standardize their processes when it comes to EHS, and more safety managers will see an increase in their workload. But, with the emergence of safety software and new technologies, safety managers can take comfort in the fact that the right tools are available to help them manage their increased responsibilities.
Here are some common features of compliance solutions.
Dashboard with Enhanced Visibility
A dashboard streamlines all the manual processes into a single window that displays the most relevant data. The dashboard provides a real-time, instant view of the system’s current state of health in a single-page, easy to read, and user-friendly interface. Many dashboards provide data in graphs and also offer historical trends of the company’s key performance indicators.
Without a dashboard, referring to the company’s compliance key data for the past quarter could take a while. The dashboard’s enhanced visibility and advanced analytics offer instantaneous, reliable, and current data. It also provides programmable reminders to help you stay on track and avoid penalties due to late or non-compliance.
An organogram is an organizational chart that displays a clear picture of the company’s organizational structure. The organogram helps you understand how various executive positions are related to each other and who reports to who through the chain of command. It also provides guidance in terms of accountability.
In a compliance management system, an organogram helps you review, manage, and ensure that each branch of the company is accounted for in terms of global compliance. It also helps you identify problems and risks, as well as manage your stakeholders.
Virtual Compliance Room
Manually filling forms is taxing. It is also prone to human error and consumes a lot of time and resources. Virtual compliance rooms allow you to store, secure, and access information and documents in a universal cloud database. It manages data security through audit logs and trails.
With the increase in compliance measures and continuous updates, it is important to stay ahead of your global compliance tasks. A compliance management system offers interactive calendars with programmable reminders.
To further ensure you are not missing compliance tasks, it automatically populates your calendar based on the information provided by current regulatory agencies and legal entities. The compliance calendar also manages tasks and monitors your progress for quick reporting in the future.
Task Management and Workflow
This feature enables you to efficiently manage tasks across users, legal entities, and departments faster. It allows the user to assign tasks and detailed workflows for planned compliance with the help of programmable calendars. It also enables tracking of who is working on a particular task and guidance on what the next steps should be.
Compliance Environment Design
This is helpful in keeping everyone aligned with regards to the compliance control hierarchy. It also guides team members in dealing with several factors involved such as assets, controls, risks, regulations, and processes.
Compliance Assessments and Monitoring
Compliance assessments provide the tools needed to measure compliance results. Compliance monitoring provides standardized reports and keeps stakeholders informed of the issues, exceptions, and failures that may have arisen.
This feature is in charge of routing compliance issues through a standardized analysis and solving process. It provides automated alerts that will trigger task assignments until the problem is fixed.
Selecting the Best EHS Compliance Solution for Your Company
When choosing a compliance management system, one key question you need to answer is this: is it better to build a custom compliance solution or purchase a standardized compliance software?
While many compliance solution software are customizable, determining your company’s exact requirements and selecting the right vendor are very important. These two can only be achieved through careful analysis. Here are some best practices to note.
Plan to Assess. Assess to Plan.
American oil well firefighter, Red Adair, once said, “If you think it is expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” The same can be said when deciding on a compliance software.
Any decision requires planning. This is vital when deciding on the right compliance software for your company. Even if a package already looks good on paper, if the on-field performance fails due to missed requirements, it could mean a huge loss for the company. For big corporations, lost data can cost millions.
Planning ensures that you know exactly what your company requires. Assessing your needs first will help you list down all the requirements you need for the accredited vendors’ proposals. Analyzing the proposals will help you plan stricter and more defined quotations from the shortlisted vendors.
Get Support from the Leadership Team
The selection and implementation of compliance software can be costly. It is also a long and tedious process that requires the full support, time, and attention of leadership team to progress.
To secure top management support, you need to have a strong, research-based approach. One approach is to highlight that the company is unable to comply with updated regulations without the new software. Highlight issues and relevant cases if they are any.
Another approach is to demonstrate how the existing system is failing to comply with more stringent requirements. Demonstrating how the new software can help lower costs is also a good approach. Moreover, emphasizing that the new technology can mitigate risks and avoid penalties will help you get executive sponsors for the compliance upgrade project.
Build a Business Case
All leaders within the company must reach an agreement on the compliance project’s statement and objectives. You can address this by building a business case in your proposal. Here are tips on how you can create a strong business case.
1. Clearly define an opportunity or problem statement.
2. Provide the background of the opportunity or problem statement. Supporting data can answer the following questions, “Why is it relevant to the company?”; “What are the vital factors fueling the issue?”; “What are the consequences if the risks are not managed?” and “Are there other options to reach the same goals?”
3. Rate the proposed solutions, as well as its individual parameters such as costs, time horizon, require resources, advantages, and disadvantages.
4. Demonstrate your recommended steps on how to achieve the goals, and set expectations with expected update time frames.
Research Your Competitors
Tap your industry network to research on what your competitors or peers are using. This will help you better define the requirements and get leads on the right vendors. You can also check if other companies are doing better with a customized compliance management system.
Define Your Requirements
Based on your assessments of what the company needs, it is time to define your project requirements. These could be functional and non-functional.
Functional requirements refer to specific tasks you need such as automated alerts, tracking and monitoring, and more. Non-functional requirements refer to the back-end support such as IT infrastructure and IT security details that need to be set up so functional requirements can run smoothly.One of the best practices is to always involve the IT teams early in the planning stage, especially the IT security teams. They can help you define the non-functional requirements and even provide input as to whether or not the existing IT infrastructure can support the new software.
It could mean a huge loss for the company if the current IT infrastructure fails to support the new compliance management system. Involving the IT teams early in the game will help reduce the risk of such mistakes.
Get to Know Your Vendors
A scoring system can help you evaluate each vendor’s proposal and identify the deal breakers. If a vendor fails to deliver a vital requirement, eliminating them from the list early on can bring you closer to finding the right one.
A scoring system helps in effectively identifying the right provider from the pool of accredited vendors. The score sheet should be shared with all stakeholders. When the top vendors are identified, an on-site visit will help you understand if their corporate culture is in line with yours.
An on-site visit will also ensure that they have competent employees in place, and that they are not simply outsourcing their deliverables. Visiting them personally can help you gauge if they intend to stay in business for a long time and develop a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.
Investing in Safety
More companies are increasing their spending on safety measures that lower a worker’s likelihood of injury and fatality. They are also investing in upgrading their compliance practices to avoid penalties and other consequences associated with non-compliance.
There is safety in compliance investments. Experts agree that investments in safety can result in future savings.
Now that you have determined how to select the best solutions for building a compliance management system for your business, the next step is implementation. This requires further buy-in from the leadership team, product testing, and more comprehensive planning for the roll-out to various units, as well as subsequent training for each department.
Implementation can take months. This includes the shift from the old software to the new one and requires coordination between the vendors’ support team and the company’s employees.
Teams need to learn how to use the new platform and make adjustments if needed to adapt to the new process. Harvesting data, monitoring, and reporting are likely to require a major overhaul when the new software arrives.
How can Gensuite meet your EHS software needs? Schedule a demo to find out!