Six facets to optimize digital EHS implementation and risk management programs

Successful Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and risk management blends people, processes and technology to send staff home safely at the end of each day. Currently, there is an intense focus on the technology involved in achieving that mission, specifically EHS and Risk Management Information Systems (MIS).

Earlier this year, Arcadis partnered with NAEM to jointly plan our EHS MIS Thought Leadership Forum alongside its Software, Innovation & Technology Showcase. We held both events in the same hotel, offering attendees access to professional development, networking opportunities, and an exhibition of more than 30 technology vendors – all in one location.

At the Arcadis Forum, part of our ongoing global event series, we analyzed digital EHS and risk management programs across various industries to uncover new insights. EHS leaders and strategists from oil and gas, mining, aerospace, retail, food and beverage, technology and other sectors shared their experiences, lessons learned and best practices in implementing enterprise-wide digital EHS programs.

An attendee survey made one point clear: EHS teams are still struggling to optimize their systems and processes. Forty percent of the attendees stated that their organization isn’t using its current solution effectively, and, on average, a moderate amount of proactive risk management data was being lost or overlooked.

Six areas emerged as critical facets to digital EHS implementation projects:

  • Maximizing deployment speed. EHS leaders stressed a need to deploy programs quickly. Organizations are sunsetting inadequate or dated systems in favor of globally integrated platforms. Executive stakeholders can set the pace for your organization. Having leadership willing to invest and accelerate programs helped one presenter’s project maintain momentum and gave their team more breathing room for time-consuming steps.
  • Agile vs. Waterfall: Which approach is best? Presenters had differing opinions on whether to use an agile or waterfall methodology for implementations. Each has its distinct advantages and disadvantages. Reflecting on organizational strengths and weaknesses, as well as project parameters such as scope and schedule, should help you determine the best plan for action.
  • Balancing implementations with “day jobs.” Presenters and attendees agreed that balancing digital EHS implementations with day-to-day EHS work can be an arduous task. There is no simple remedy for this; these projects take substantial effort and many organizations do not have the capacity to build robust teams outside of the standard EHS business scope. Your best bet is to help your organization recognize EHS’ burning platform and inspire organizational change.
  • Adopting globally integrated platforms. Many organizations at the event were dealing with disparate systems that do not communicate with each other or optimize the data they collect. An enterprise-wide platform provides a single source of truth for all EHS needs. It leads to more standard solutions, consistent data reporting and accountability among users. Whichever platform you choose, it should serve as a foundation for enhanced and harmonized enterprise EHS processes. Your platform will be most effective when it’s tuned to your exact needs. Creating the initial project scope through a user experience lens can help you avoid costly customizations down the line.
  • Including all key stakeholders early in the project. Remember that digital EHS implementation is about process and people as much as technology. Corporate and business unit operations, IT, EHS stakeholders and other cross-functional teams should be engaged early in the process. Presenters recognized the struggle attendees might encounter getting adequate stakeholder support. Collaborate beyond IT – include all key stakeholders early in the process, such as corporate and business unit operations and other EHS stakeholders.
  • Planning for continuous improvement. So you’ve built the right team, you’ve picked the ideal software and you’ve designed the proper rollout. Then what? Recognize that implementation isn’t an endpoint. It’s the start of an optimized EHS program that improves workplace safety and efficiency. System sustainment through continuous improvement is critical as the program transitions to post-implementation.

Learn more about insights from the Forum. For additional information or to discuss the digital EHS and risk management needs of your organization, please contact me.


Vijay Gudivaka

Senior Vice President, Global Director, Information Driven Performance Ask me a question