5 of the most surprising facts about choosing EHS software

Did you know that one of the biggest software mistakes cost $125 million?

On its mission to Mars in 1998, the Climate Orbiter spacecraft was ultimately lost in space. Although the failure bemused engineers for some time it was revealed that a subcontractor on the engineering team failed to make a simple conversion from English units to metric. An embarrassing lapse that sent the $125 million craft fatally close to Mars’ surface after attempting to stabilize its orbit too low. Flight controllers believe the spacecraft plowed into Mars’ atmosphere where the associated stresses crippled its communications, leaving it hurtling on through space in an orbit around the sun.

Admittedly this is a scale few of us will ever encounter, but it’s all about perspective! $125 million to NASA has the equivalent impact that ZAR ‘000 has too many of our companies! And yet, we are often surprised by the little, easily overlooked, mistakes like the one above that our customers make.

Here are a few things about EHS software that are overlooked that might surprise you:

Choosing to develop your own software before investigating off the shelf options

In just the last year, the number of available marketing technologies has increased by 39%. What’s even more impressive is that businesses have seen their software options increase from 150 to 5,000 in just seven years. The need to develop your own software is swiftly decreasing.

Many software development companies have invested years and millions of rands in developing their software and must retain a full team of developers to ensure that software keeps pace with both business and technological advances, both of which are progressing at alarming rates. So, unless you are prepared to invest in large amounts of money and ensure you continue to retain your development service, off-the-shelf software options are probably the quickest and most cost-effective solution for your business.

Remember to apply the 80/20 rule – if an off-the-shelf EHS solution can service 80% of your needs, it’s a good, cost-effective EHS solution!

Not ensuring your EHS strategy is documented and approved before purchasing software

The software you choose is very much dependent on your EHS goals and how you plan to achieve them. Remember that software must follow your strategy and structure, and not the other way round. It is simply a time and cost-saving deployment tool that is one of the many tools you will use to achieve the overall goals of the company. When everything is aligned, you’ll have an easier time measuring success and achieving your desired results.

There’s no right or wrong answer to “which software should I invest in?” It’s all a matter of your benchmarks and needs. You need to be clear on the objectives you need the software to achieve and questions like “What reports should we be able to extract” and “What should we be able to measure” and “What is the best way for us to input data” will help you to make sure your budget won’t get wasted on a tool that does not add value.

Assuming you know what your team need from their EHS software solution

Unless you’re the only one who’ll be using your EHS software, the worst thing you can do is decide which software to purchase without the input of your team.

Both studies and our personal experience has shown that staff members are more resistant to change when they’re not involved in a decision that impacts them. In other words, if you force your team to adopt a new tool, you’re likely to see an increase in employee apathy, instances of quitting, and hostility toward managers.

You might also end up purchasing software based on what you think your team need when really they’d prefer something else. This could come down to the EHS tool’s capabilities, or its usability, or even the problem it solves.

Remember you’re not the only one who’ll be using the EHs tool, so you shouldn’t be the only one making that decision.

Making short term decisions and ignoring long term needs

When you’re shopping for software, failing to look past the short-term can cause more problems than you might imagine. Remember that your business is a living, growing organism that will change, grow, and morph at different rates. It is important that the EHS software can keep pace with your ever-changing business needs, and this includes the ability to expand and grow with the business. Implementing EHS software takes time and costs money – you don’t want to be doing it again if you can help it!

It is our observation that people tend to overbuy not underbuy. We’ve talked with many companies who were so focused on the detailed functionality of the software that they found themselves with a product that was too complex for their situation. Their users adopted workarounds and Excel spreadsheets, which defeated the purpose of an integrated solution. The results were wasted money, unused software potential, and difficulty using the system.

It’s important to remember that you’re not just looking for a tool. You’re also looking for a partner. If that partner can’t support your use of their software long-term and help you make the right choices, they’re not worth investing in. This goes not just for the EHS software solution you choose, but the EHS software team behind it! Make sure they have been trading for a reasonable period of time and can demonstrate how their EHS software solutions have been able to keep pace.

Choosing an EHS software solution that cannot integrate with your other software solutions

Unless you are prepared to pay millions, odds that you are going to find a single software solution that will serve your entire end to end business needs are slim to none. The problem with siloed tools and channels is that they’re only a piece of the puzzle. If they’re not connected, the data you collect with them will only form an incomplete picture and will result in costly and time consuming multiple capturing of the same data.

As a minimum your need to be able to integrate your payroll data with your EHS data, and preferably your accounting data too! If your EHS software doesn’t work with your other technologies, it’s probably not worth your time or money.


Given the investment time it takes to implement an EHS software solution, it’s worth ensuring you look at a range of options to ensure you are making the right choice for your company. There are several good guides with useful checklists that can assist in this area – see https://ovs-solutions.com/software-investment-guide/. Make use of this free advice and save your company much time and money.

Companies like OVS Solutions (Pty) Ltd, the Africa Licensee of the award-winning Rapid Global Software, have been delivering Health & Safety software solutions for over 15 years. Their only business is the continued development and improvement of their software, to make sure that the solutions keep pace with the ever-changing landscape. All their solutions come with mobile apps.

OVS Solutions, the Africa Licensee of Rapid Global, also have a great support team who are available to assist with live or online demonstrations, user guides, and relevant information you may require. They will share their tips on how to best maximize user adoption and can help you deliver on your plan!