How to Successfully Deploy an EHS&S Software System Guide Review

CSR; EHS; implementation; software system; sustainability consultancy


Last March 2018 NAEM (National Association for Environmental Management) released the new “How to Successfully Deploy an EHS&S Software System” Guide.

NAEM is a professional organisation empowering global corporate professionals to become leaders in the promotion of sustainability and the creation of safe and healthy working workplaces.

This new comprehensive document is designed to guide businesses approaching the implementation of a new sustainability data management system.


Implementing a new software system can be a real challenge for businesses. From defining requirements to training end users, the time and resources spent on implementation processes are huge: it takes time (and money!) to ensure the selection of the right system that’s fit for purpose. It’s a particular delicate phase that needs to be managed in the right way in order to transform the initial and abstract expectations into the practical and desired outcomes.

NAEM identifies six key steps to follow when implementing a software system:

1. Evaluate and strategise

  • Assess your resources. Companies need to consider the internal resources required and their availability. If by discussing with their team they’ll assess the insufficiency of their internal resources, they might want to outsource and reach out to an implementation partner.

According to NAEM’s 2017 EHS&S Software Buyer’s Guide Survey, half of the professionals interviewed intended to use external consulting services in support of their software selection and implementation.  

There are many reasons why EHS professionals resort to external consultants:

      • Complexity of the project
      • Lack of internal knowledge and expertise
      • External feedback on processes able to address specific challenges
      • Access to best practices
      • Lack of subject matter expertise (i.e. carbon emissions).

  • Identify timeline. Businesses have to acknowledge how long the implementation will take and create a timeline. If the project is likely to present particular challenges and complexities, companies need to think about the possibility to break it down into smaller phases. This will require good communication between the vendor, the project manager and the subject experts. Scheduled regular catch up meetings are also a very good idea.
  • Design an internal communication strategy. Communicating with the team, employees and the end users and getting their feedback is vital: in order to achieve successful outcomes, everyone needs to buy-in. It’s essential to craft a communication strategy that explains main business goals and additional benefits that the implementation implies.

2. Refine your requirements

Companies need to review and update their initial requirements to meet new and changing organisational needs and ensure business processes’ consistency.

  • Set priorities. In order to do this effectively it’s fundamental to:
      • Identify major pain points and objectives and agree on them
      • Adopt an organised and segmented approach. In other terms, it’s a matter of resisting the temptation to implement everything at once and following a phased approach.
      • Define both your functional and technical requirements. Technical requirements i.e. system security specifications can get overlooked yet have the potential to derail the project abruptly.
  • Plan data migration. Another necessary step is about deciding what to do with the existing data. Will they be transferred to the new system? Will they actually be used once transferred? Considering the intrinsic challenges that data migration processes imply, organisations might want to carefully consider this point. They’ll also have to remember to verify whether their business policies require retention of data and information. If this is the case, they’ll have no other option rather than to migrate them. Last but not least, they’ll need to consider correspondence or lack of similar fields in their old and new systems.

3. Optimise the design

  • Avoid over-design. Companies need to be realistic and load just the functions and features that are really important to them in order to avoid configuring an over-complicated system: the ultimate goal is to reduce work-load, not increase it.
  • Define the extent of configuration. This step is about choosing between a built-it basic or customised configuration. Whilst customising a system might look like the perfect option to meet more sophisticated needs, it’s important to remember that a highly customised system will be more difficult to use and perhaps also won’t allow for future upgrades.

4. Put it to the test

  • Test and trial. Testing the system and trialling it with a restricted number of users BEFORE introducing it to the entire business is the best approach to identify problems and avoid future difficulties.  Making sure the system does what it’s expected to do is key.
  • Organise a dry run for a few sites. Identify one or two pilot sites that will use the system the most and implement one or two modules to start with will help gain acceptance of the new software, increase engagement and make everyone feel comfortable about it.

5. Introduce the solution

In other words: train users.

  • Define the purpose of the training. When organising and scheduling the training it’s important to consider the following points:
      • Will the users be trained all at once or in groups?
      • Will the training consist of a one-on-one, an instructor-led, or a self-paced and self-directed individual type of training?
  • Include various training methods. Offering several training modes to satisfy different users’ ways of learning will increase the chances of achieving a better rate of adoption following the implementation. It can take months if not years to achieve organisational wide engagement but effective training will reduce this timescale
  • Go Live! This is when management will finally be sharing the new system with all users. They might to do all in one go, site by site or module by module. Either way, it’d be wise to follow up with some additional training and one-to-one support to ensure everyone is comfortable in using the new system. 

6. Sell the value of the change

  • Communicate and share. In order to achieve the culture change sought within the organisation, leaders need to talk to users and make them aware of the upcoming changes, and explain why they’re doing it to share a common vision. For a successful implementation, it’s vital to have the users’ buy-in. Data contributors will ultimately be key stakeholders making the project a success as without any or poor data coming in, there will be no chance of obtaining meaningful information for decision makers.

To view the full guide please visit:

Need further help?

Are you looking for a way to compare EHS software systems across the market? Find the right reporting solution for your business with our free and independent online comparison tool GoMarketWise.

Are you looking for some support around your implementation process? Get in touch with us at or give us a call on 0117 325 4168.

Giulia Danielis

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Unit 5.3 Paintworks, Bath Road,
Bristol BS4 3EH

Tel: +44 (0)117 325 4168


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