Corporate Environmental Compliance Managers and Corporate Health & Safety Directors are faced with changing regulatory requirements and increased attention regarding ESG goals, objectives and performance. Regulatory changes create a challenge to the organization to keep all regulatory permits and plans updated and keeping staff up to date on the work process changes. These changes need to be incorporated into the EHS/ESG information management and reporting systems to maintain compliance and conformance with the applicable requirements and standards.
The recently proposed rules to enhance and standardize climate-related disclosures for investors have corporations scrambling to accurately and efficiently collect, manage and report this information across their organization for applicable reports. These immediate challenges, along with an ever-developing technology market, have many Corporate Environmental Managers, Health & Safety Directors and Sustainability Managers wanting to re-assess their EHS/ESG management systems and the information management systems (IMS) that support them to improve and optimize their capabilities and performance.
Organizations who have not designed, developed and implemented an information management system platform for their EHS/ESG needs should consider the process of establishing such a system. This is an opportunity to consider a single integrated enterprise wide EHS/ESG information management system.
When evaluating existing EHS IMS, or contemplating the development of an IMS, businesses and organizations should consider the following questions:
- What level of effort is currently required to compile EHS/ESG data and information for tracking performance and reporting compliance and/or conformance status across our entire organization?
- Are there inefficient manual processes that could be eliminated by implementing a streamlined and more robust system that works across all applicable devices?
- Have we implemented a system that is updated with applicable regulatory changes, automates notifications and alerts the appropriate team members regarding applicable regulatory changes and provides notification to leadership regarding EHS incidents of non-compliance?
- How easy is it to access information and present visualizations that present key EHS/ESG performance indicators to provide an overall picture of the organization’s compliance and/or conformance status?
- What is our organization’s technology adoption plan? Do we have a strategic plan for adopting new innovative technologies such as robotic process automation, wearables, remote sensors, etc. mentioned in the previous TRC blog Key Considerations When Designing and Implementing Digital Technology Solutions to Support an Integrated EHS/ESG Management System? Do we have the systems, equipment and resources connected and trained to successfully implement this plan?
- Are our current EHS/ESG management system processes and the corresponding IMS supporting our organization’s overall EHS/ESG standards and requirements? (e.g., ISO 14001 and/or ISO 45001)
A single, integrated enterprise wide EHS/ESG IMS can significantly improve performance and communicate progress towards organizational EHS/ESG requirements and goals. There can be many benefits to improving and optimizing your current EHS/ESG IMS including making it easier to use, a better central location for all EHS/ESG information and allowing quicker access to data analytics and performance indicators. When considering to optimize and improve your current EHS/ESG management system processes, and the corresponding IMS, conduct an analysis and include the following components into future design considerations:
- Master Data Management Plan and Data Governance Procedures – Having a master data management plan and data governance procedures regarding how an organization implements EHS/ESG software creates a roadmap for how the system will maintain consistency with other organizational system platforms and data sets. Consider the following examples of plan content and procedures:
- Integrating your organization’s facility list, current employee roster and approved vendor and contractor roster information from Human Resources and Accounting Procurement Systems
- Make sure to incorporate your Corporate IT policies
- Include Corporate IT representatives on your EHS/ESG Software Implementation Team to stay in alignment with your company’s IT roadmap
- Allow for long-term internal IT system support
- Make sure your master data management plan includes system documentation and steps for how employees will receive training (initial and refresher) and instructions on system use and administration
- System documentation is required to govern the overall data policies, procedures and use of the system in a consistent way to ensure data quality (reliable, accurate and complete)
- A Holistic Data Management and Reporting Workflow – Evaluate existing processes and procedures regarding data capture, data visualization and data reporting to document the current “As-Is” data management workflow process. Use this exercise to identify any manual processes that can be optimized through system automation. Improve your EHS/ESG data management workflow processes to meet your organization’s goals and requirements for supporting the EHS/ESG IMS. When developing your preferred optimal EHS/ESG data management workflow process, consider areas where this workflow is not compliant with your organization’s EHS/ESG IMS. Consider data governance plans and documentation that can provide an EHS/ESG IMS that better aligns with and supports your organization’s EHS/ESG Management System (e.g., ISO14001 and/or ISO45001) using the ISO Plan, Do, Check and Act (PDCA) approach.
- Access to Data Visualizations for Decision Support – Corporate Environmental Managers, Health & Safety Directors and Corporate ESG & Sustainability Directors need quick, easy to interpret, data visualizations on dashboards to highlight trends and the current status of regulatory compliance at their operating facilities. This ongoing monitoring and alerts of non-compliance situations allows for more responsive corrective actions and improvements to eliminate recurrence. Many EHS/ESG IMS come with configurable dashboards such as Microsoft® Power BI, Tableau®, etc. and offer a robust environment for displaying information and data to better manage EHS/ESG standards and requirements.
- System Implementation Project Management Approach – Confirming Corporate Leadership supports the EHS/ESG IMS improvement project and dedicates the appropriate resources is critical to a successful implementation. It is recommended to implement a pilot program for how the system will be implemented across a sample of your organization’s facilities in order to incorporate feedback from system users for all aspects of design functionality, documentation and training content.
- A Strategy for New Innovative Technology Adoption – Develop a strategy for how your organization adopts new EHS/ESG innovative technologies. Determine if your organization has resources to be early adopters of new technology that includes a process for piloting each technology and determining its applicability and benefits to an organization’s data management workflow process. Knowing your organization’s approach and strategy to new technology adoption can save time in evaluating each technology.
- Existing EHS/ESG Software Systems – Consider any issues you have with your current EHS/ESG IMS and the associated work processes. Also, consider the strengths and weaknesses of the existing system and how the existing system could be improved or replaced. If replacing the system, consider risks with the options of building the system in house, using and maintaining custom source code and having the hardware and network infrastructure to host the system. Determine the true cost of system design, development and ongoing maintenance, and then decide if that is feasible for the organization as compared to working with existing COTS systems, their subscription or licensing costs and ability to expand the system’s use with additional EHS/ESG software modules and interfaces. Develop a scorecard of the features and functionality of the existing EHS/ESG software system you have implemented, and those you would like in your new system. This approach allows you to evaluate each system independently, as well as through a blended approach.
TRC’s team of EHS/ESG Digital Technology Solutions experts assist our clients with systems to meet their needs. We work with our clients planning, designing, developing, testing and implementing systems to meet the ISO or client standards and EHS/ESG IMS requirements. We also partner with leading EHS/ESG software vendors to find the best match for our clients, selecting systems with scalability and offering many applicable EHS/ESG IMS modules.
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This insights post is a follow up to our recent white paper Managing EHS & ESG Risks Through Integrated Systems. TRC offers integrated EHS services that help organizations better manage EHS and ESG associated risks and improve performance at the corporate and plant levels.