Technology has changed the way companies across the world operate, including in Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) programs. As companies adopt advanced technologies that can benefit their business, undergoing a digital transformation in EHS can improve your business operations in a variety of ways.
However, with so many ways to use technology in your business, it can be difficult to narrow down the choices to the ones that will benefit your company the most. By considering your business’s priorities and creating a transition plan, you can implement a digital transformation that will enable your business to grow and succeed for years to come.
What is Digital Transformation?
A digital transformation means incorporating technology into all aspects of your business, changing how your business operates and how can deliver products, services, and data to your clients and customers. Incorporating advanced technology can help your company operate more efficiently, decrease human error, and decrease operational costs.
For EHS, this includes things like software, artificial intelligence, smart sensors, robotics, and more. Some examples of how digital transformation can be used in your business include:
- A front-line worker who can report a safety incident using a digital safety app on her phone, immediately alerting safety personnel.
- A new worker who can use a head-mounted tablet for hands-free investigation and can communicate live with senior staff on the ground to troubleshoot an issue.
- A smart water quality monitoring system that can transmit real-time results to EHS personnel.
Benefits of Digital Transformation in EHS
The ways a digital transformation can be advantageous for your company are numerous, from improved operations to increased safety to long-term cost savings.
Here are some of the ways a digital transformation can benefit your EHS program:
- Increased efficiency and productivity
- Decreased human error potential
- Increased precision
- Improved safety
- Cost savings
- Streamlined issue identification and resolution
- More robust knowledge transfer to new employees
- Improved data integration for compliance reporting
- Automation of regulatory compliance reporting
Integrating advanced technology into your business practices can improve every aspect of your business, from internal operations and procedures to how you communicate with your customers. While new technology may take time to implement in the beginning, in the long run these solutions can be enormously beneficial to your operations.
Selecting the Right Technology for Your Digital Transformation
There are seemingly endless ways you can implement a digital transformation in your EHS program, including both turn-key software and custom software solutions as well as entirely new hardware solutions like smart sensors and robotics.
Finding the right solution for your company requires you to think about the specifics of what your company needs, not just what’s trending or what other companies seem to use.
Consider Priorities and People
When deciding on the first steps you will take in your digital transformation, you will need to understand your organization’s priorities. What kinds of solutions are you looking for? Will the solution need to be scalable? Will it need to be used outside of EHS? If so, are other departments already using systems that could be expanded to meet the needs of EHS?
Understanding your priorities from the beginning is crucial to a smooth digital transformation. Define your “why” clearly to ensure that roadblocks don’t slow down the process. Losing track of your ultimate goal and reconfiguring priorities in the middle of a project can slow down development and implementation significantly, and may ultimately leave you with a solution that isn’t what you had hoped for.
Cost is also an important consideration. Will the solutions you are looking at save you time and money in the long run? If not, are there other possibilities that can still help you achieve your goals?
You will also need to consider all parties involved, including both employees and customers. What systems will best benefit them? Ask for ideas from your front-line staff; you may hear ideas that surprise you, and they will be able to identify the processes that work best in their environment. User adoption will also go more smoothly and meet less resistance when the front-line staff are involved from the beginning.
Pilot Your Project with Early Adopters
Create a plan for managing the digital transformation from the beginning to help the process run smoothly. Identifying key individuals who will spearhead the effort, become early adopters, and guide the rest of the company in implementing the new solutions will ease the transition.
Remember to start small, too. Implement the solution with just a few key players at first in a pilot program. This will help you work out any issues and identify possible difficulties users may have, giving you time to find solutions before a larger group is using the new technology.
Documenting everything as you pilot the new solution is also important to a smooth transition. Identify the steps that must be included in the move to new technology, document processes and workflows, and identify pain points along with their solutions. All of this can be used for reference in the future as more users adopt the digital solution.
Implementing Your Digital Transformation
When it’s time to implement your EHS digital transformation across the broader group or company, you will need to have a plan for managing the implementation along with clear expectations of what it will look like. Understand how long the implementation will take, and remember that completely transforming the way a company operates digitally can take time. To make implementation more manageable, break it down into smaller chunks.
You also have the option to use an implementation partner. Many EHS software vendors work with partner firms that implement their software for companies purchasing that software. This allows the software vendor to serve more clients and helps software purchasers to streamline the implementation process.
Ask your selected software vendor if they have implementation partners they recommend and choose one that has experience implementing EHS software in your industry. These partners can support you during all phases of the implementation process and can even offer software assistance in the future once you have established your new system.
User Adoption and Training
Getting your users on board will be the last major step for your digital transformation. If you began with a pilot program, hopefully you will have a small group of users who have already fully adopted the new technology and can guide other employees in using it.
For a smooth transition for your employees, it is crucial to give them all the information and training they might need. If you have documented processes and troubleshooting tips, you should have a resource you can provide your employees to help them with any potential technology issues they encounter.
Training is also critical. Many EHS software solutions offer training resources for new users. Whether you use one of these pre-made trainings or create your own internal training, be sure that all employees receive the training they need so they can feel confident using the new technology.
Find Digital Transformation Support
Digital transformations are revolutionizing the way companies do business, how they communicate with their clients, and how EHS groups gather and use data. Implementing these new technological solutions can sound intimidating, but remember that you don’t have to do everything at once. The benefits will pay off in the long run, providing increased efficiencies, decreased error, improved safety, and more.
If you are looking for ways your EHS team can transform their processes with new digital solutions, need help implementing a new software, or have other questions about starting the digital transformation process, contact Tetra Tech’s EHS experts at [email protected]. We have been at the forefront of implementing digital transformations, finding solutions both internally and for our customers; and we can help you create a sustainable plan for your digital future.