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Dakota Software's Blog for EHS and Sustainability Professionals

5 Keys to Getting Your EHS Information Technology Project Approved

April 3rd, 2019 by Robert Kimball

5 Keys to Getting Your EHS Information Technology Project Approved

After much research, you’re convinced that better information management is critical to improving your organization’s environmental, health, and safety (EHS) performance. It’s time to end the inefficiencies caused by a patchwork of paper, spreadsheets, and ad hoc software. Now that you’ve decided to move forward with a modern EHS software solution, what’s next?

Your basic hurdle as an EHS business leader is to convince senior management that an EHS information technology (IT) investment is a sound use of limited resources. How will using technology to further automate and integrate EHS processes add value to the business? Why is this project a better use of funds than others? What is the justification for doing anything at all?

An Essential Tool: a Well-Crafted Business Case

In most organizations, decisions to make IT investments are made on the basis of a business case. This is a document for executive decision-makers that justifies the project in a clear and compelling way by assessing the costs, benefits and overall value to be gained.

Developing a winning business case is much easier said than done. Most organizations have a history of failed IT projects that were based on unrealistic business cases that didn’t deliver the promised value. You can be sure yours will be heavily scrutinized, and will need to shine.

5 Keys to a Winning Business Case

Based on our work over the past several years with EHS leaders in a variety of industries, we’ve seen IT business cases that worked, and some that failed. The odds of your project being approved will be much improved by paying attention to these five critical factors:

  • Align with the business - think “big picture” and show how the project will support your organization’s strategic business objectives and improve metrics that are important to senior management. For example, connect your EHS project to an Operational Excellence initiative and show how reducing incidents (and resulting production downtime) will improve overall equipment effectiveness and return on assets.
  • Build a cross-functional coalition - much of the value of EHS IT comes from better integrating EHS into day-to-day operations across the value chain. Be inclusive and enlist buy-in from key business stakeholders such as R&D, manufacturing, and supply chain. Together, you can clearly show agreement on the problems, solutions and benefits, and broad support for the initiative.
  • Get on the IT roadmap - early on, partner with your internal IT group to get EHS positioned as a key part of the IT roadmap. They are experts at deploying technology to improve business processes, and can help you compete for limited resources if well-informed. Successful projects invariably feature EHS and IT working side-by-side in a true partnership.
  • Show the money - speak the language of management by showing that this is an investment, not a cost. In effect you are competing against other projects for resources, and need to show a Return on Investment (ROI) greater or at least as good as other options, and one that meets your company’s minimum ROI and payback hurdle requirements. Make sure to understand and closely follow your company’s standard business case process and timeline, while looking for creative enhancements.
  • Ensure completeness and credibility - the business case must be complete, easily understood, and believable. This means addressing the concerns of all key stakeholders, and making sure all major cost and benefit areas are included, both tangible and intangible. Credibility is aided by using realistic data and assumptions, and avoiding information gaps. Peer benchmarking data and research findings by independent analysts also provide powerful validation.


How to Get Started

A winning business case is based on the ROI of the project. How will costs be reduced? Business results improved? Risks reduced? Answering these questions may seem like a daunting task but there are efficient ways to get started using a phased approach.

The essential first step is determining your EHS costs today. Only by having a good handle on current costs can potential benefits be determined. A practical approach is to use an online value calculator such as this EHS solutions value assessment tool. It provides a simple way to document costs and calculate potential cost savings.

Armed with the information from a preliminary value assessment, you will be in a much stronger position to get attention and start building support. By objectively “showing the money” to stakeholders and speaking the language of the decision-makers, you will be well on your way to capturing the benefits of an investment in EHS software.

START YOUR BUSINESS CASE

Robert Kimball

Robert Kimball

Director of Marketing

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