– Essential? Nice to have? Or not necessary?
Are you a multi-site business? Is your Safety Manager’s desk covered in paperwork and their inbox is full? Are your Line Managers drowning in spread sheets? Have you been considering purchasing safety software or thinking there must be a better way? You’re not alone.
Many other organisations are weighing up their options. To invest in software or not – that is the question.
Why you get safety software
Safety software is designed to facilitate the roll out of your safety system. This means that your safety processes are supported by software. Incidents and hazards are reported directly into the software system, managers responsible for incident investigation and risk assessments receive workflow support notifications and the corrective actions are recorded and tracked for completion through the workflows.
The right safety software product has the power to:
- Streamline your processes.
- Enable ongoing measurement of performance.
- Reinforce responsibilities and accountabilities.
However, like any system, you get out what you put in. Inaccurate entries and inconsistent use will mean that your reports are incorrect and the workflows will soon start getting ignored.
Purchasing software because there is too much paperwork and things falling through the cracks, is not reason enough. There are plenty of businesses that manage their safety system effectively and efficiently without software.
Choosing the right product for your needs
Before you invest in software, your organisation needs to be ready for it. You need to have the appropriate policies, procedures and systems in place and the culture to support it. And you need to undertake a thorough Needs Analysis before deciding which software to invest in.
There are many different products on the market. Some have been around forever and a day, and are burdened by the legacy of out-dated programming and band aid updates. Some are slick and new and promise the word, but have not been trialled and tested…
Generally, there are two clusters – the expensive ‘Rolls Royce’s’ and the sensible ‘Toyota Corollas’
The best product for your business will come down to your specific needs. Before organising demonstrations, get together with your IT, HR and operational colleagues to discuss what your needs are. Use these to create a functional specification.
Then review the other systems you have in place. Some operational software and most HR products will have modules available that may meet your needs. These could make for a smooth transition as your personnel will already have access and know how to use the systems and the cost is likely to be significantly less.
What to look for in a platform
When reviewing potential solutions you should consider:
- User experience – platform, tooltips, ease of navigation, etc. If it’s not easy to use, it won’t get used.
- Modules being included in the price, including any organisation specific needs.
- Workflow and notifications.
- Application’s capability to integrate and manage people records.
- Availability and functionality on mobile devices.
- Ability to customise the content of screens/modules.
- Reporting capability – can you schedule your own reports?
- The need for any data migration from pre-existing applications.
- Hosting – who will host and where, how secure will your data be, and what backup will be available?
- What support will be available following purchase?
- Will the system upgrades/updates be provided at no further fee?
- Price – licence, cost per user, fee for training, additional hosting fees, etc.
Determine what is and isn’t important
Although all of the above factors are relevant, their relative importance may differ for different organisations. For a company with deep pockets, price comes lower on the list. For a company using collaboration software to process business information, security is high priority. If a solution forms an important part of a company’s business, it is important that it integrates well with existing systems. For dynamic industries like real estate, short training times are essential.
An assessment tool representing your business needs as weighted items is a good way to go. For example, the most important parameter may have a weighting level of 3 as opposed to something that can be negotiable being a 1. People involved in the selection process would score the applications being compared using the agreed scoring matrix and the highest scoring application would win the race.
Before you buy
- Seek feedback from current users of the system Ask the vendor for references and if you can, speak to those they haven’t directed you to get the full picture.
- Make sure it supports your systems and processes Do not change your processes to fit in with software. Look for software to support your processes.
- Try before you buy
Most software providers will allow you to trial their application. This is an important step. Involve a sample of end users in this process as well as IT and HR. Their feedback will be valuable.
Making the investment worthwhile
Unless the software is effectively integrated into your business, it will be a waste of money and effort.
In order for any application to bring results, you need to:
- Train the users, explaining the value of the application and the outcomes being sought as well as setting expectations about its use. After all, the end user experience will have improved as a result of the software implementation. Training should be supported by easy to locate and understand manuals.
- Set expectations with line and senior managers regarding their roles and how the software should be used to support them.
- Ensure regular reporting generated by the software is provided to the senior managers.
- Ensure ongoing support is available to users to coach and encourage them along the way.
Make the right choice
As health and safety specialists we’ve see the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to safety management systems. We’ve helped businesses of all shapes and sizes develop and implement internal management systems and are familiar with most of the software products on the market.
If you’re looking for specialist advice and assistance to determine whether or not your need software, the best way to effectively and efficiently manage your safety system, or what software will meet your needs – we can help.