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Digital EHS: And What of Humans?

14 February 2018

Digital EHS

In this new technology era showing accelerated disruptions within companies, it is sometimes too easy to forget the primary purpose behind any modernization: the individual.  

While companies tend to focus their energies on the digital world, those companies’ teams are unfortunately losing in the long run. Technology quickly becomes the enterprise’s main focus, at the expense of teams working on projects and employees expecting to benefit from these new tools. Digitizing and integrating prove to be a real challenge, and most importantly, an inevitable step, even within departments that were thought untouchable. 

How to take part in this wave of modernity without being overwhelmed? 

Focus the process around your team 

Why do you say of a website that it is user-friendly? Is it because this ease of use is an end, or rather the result of a user-centered design where the form supports the function? While the integration of technology and task management are critical to your success, it’s important to keep in mind that these tools remain tools to help you realize your vision. The primary objective of the EHS division will always be to guarantee the safety and health of workers. The technology surrounding the digitization of this sector is only there to make things easier. 

EHS digitalization

Even though our latest articles on EHS digitalization address the importance of the roadmap in any planning, it must be acknowledged that humans remain the only priority. After all, digitizing an entire division will not be done by shouting scissors! You will need to build a multidisciplinary team, seek out the contribution and expertise of other services, and ensure that members understand the implications of such a change. It’s at this stage that business agility will make all the difference. Cutting your roadmap into various phases and interdependent teams removes the pressure normally placed on a few individuals. Coupled with daily progress monitoring, you’ll get a smoother, more efficient implementation within your task force. Creating a collaborative space where each individual is involved and empowered allows your business to achieve its goals and promote balance and well-being. 

Agile Strategies

Flow of information will be one of the most challenging steps of this process. By using agile strategies, you will avoid any work silo-related frustration. Your team will be aware of your long-term plan, be involved at all levels, and most importantly, your employees will be able to take ownership of the new system in real-time. In case of departures within the department, whether due to illness or a career change, your team will be able to carry on, since they will be in control of those new tools. Moreover, for this kind of digital transformation with a significant impact on the processes, managers’ first reflex is to plan a large-scale project requiring a large-scale technological solution. They then fall back into the “waterfall” project management paradigm. It goes without saying that this management mode is risky, even more in a world where the only constant is change. The project development should be vision-focused and should not rely on modules or user numbers. The transformation process should itself be achieved by short iterations (agile mode) and should be supported by a technological solution built on this philosophy. By creating small teams involved in the entire implementation, the evolution will be sustainable, and this way of proceeding will now be in place for future projects. You will avoid having only a few people holding a plan at arm’s length.  

Find Your Technology Partner 

Creating a sustainable partnership is the second essential step for effective change. If the involvement of your entire team should stay your primary goal, surrounding yourself with good external players is the next logical step.  

Long-Term Partner

When digitalizing the ESH department, you will need to select a system to support the introduction of new technology. At this point, it is important to make an informed choice: rather than acquiring a system, it will be time to look for a partner. A simple purchase will not impact the rest of your business. On the contrary, a long-term partner will be equipped to assist you in this process that will probably have repercussions on your corporate culture. This partner will be the cornerstone of the project’s agile vision, bringing flexibility, solutions and development to your company. 

Unfortunately, in the field of EHS, it is common to see supplying companies selling the technology as quickly as possible, then washing their hands as soon as the implementation is complete. Should the responsibility be on your company, or on the supplier? The answer is somewhere in the middle! 

Real Expectations

Encouraged by miraculous product stories, companies proceeding to evolve often have surreal expectations about technology providers who are happy to sell their product and then opt out of the project. While this may seem like an enviable transaction, it is still much more optimal to implement this new technology over a realistic period of time while depending on the maturity of your agile team, requiring long-term efforts and adaptive measures. Rather than relying on your new technology, you should use it as a catalyst to modernize the very structure of your business and unlock your limitations around change. Your technology partner will be an undeniable support for digitization and an outstanding advisor—if you know how to find a quality supplier. 

At CONFORMiT, these sustainable projects, articulated around a vision, are not only our reason to exist, but also a philosophy that we have applied to our own company. In terms of health, safety and environment, as well as the very structure of our hierarchical organization, our flexibility is our greatest strength in facing the changing nature of the industry. 

Maxime Ouellet CGO CONFORMiT
Written by Maxime Ouellet