Workflow – the hidden power of your New Environmental, Health & Safety Software
One of the most critical components within any Enterprise-class EHS software application is the workflow engine. In simple terms, workflow is just automating a series of steps to get things done. Each step is coordinated by the workflow engine and it decides what should happen next; what tasks need to be assigned to what individual to conclude the process. By automatically tracking and monitoring the process and any approval checkpoints within it, the workflow enforces consistency and control and ensures that steps and information are not overlooked, missing or incorrect.
In EHS terms, it’s critical to effective health and safety management and compliance. Consider, for example, the incident reporting and analysis steps that need to be taken when an incident or near-miss occurs in your business. Firstly, the incident must be notified, forms need to be completed, severity ratings to be considered and a variety of corrective actions will need to be assigned via email or text to ensure you don’t get a recurrence. In between, there can be a host of approvals, deadlines, escalations and alerts, including missed deadlines. And of course, there’s the associated regulatory reporting processes for RIDDOR or OSHAS or whatever your local equivalent is that needs to be complied with.
This type of workflow automation improves business performance; initially through greater employee accountability as a result of its built-in oversight function. Consistency is guaranteed as exceptions or workarounds are not tolerated and importantly, management have complete visibility of what’s taking place and whether any bottlenecks exist. In short, EHS management becomes incredibly more efficient.
Given its importance, we’re frequently surprised at how little real attention is paid to it in the procurement process. We review countless RFP’s that detail very specific processes that need to be supported. Such things as approvals, task generation, deadlines and escalation processes are typically well documented but less well captured is the functionality of the workflow engine itself. Whilst on the face of it, it’s good to focus on ensuring the system can support the existing business processes, there is a danger in this limited approach.
Businesses and the processes that enable them to operate don’t stand still.
Workflow engines that don’t offer built-in flexibility can see you quickly locked into legacy business processes that are simply no longer relevant. And software that doesn’t support the business processes effectively is quickly circumvented by employees. Game Over.
Of course, you can keep playing by going back to your software vendor for an expensive make-over of your workflow processes. But be prepared to make that journey again and again as you cut endless POs to keep things moving forward.
So, in writing requirements for EHS software, we encourage prospects to take a much closer look at just how the proposed workflow engine enables their processes, what flexibility is built-in and (very importantly) what form the flexibility takes.
At EMEX, we think flexibility best resides within your business and we work to deliver true “Vendor Independence”. Our Snap-Change™ tool-set enables clients to take an adaptive approach to their EHS automation process. It gives non-technical users the ability to build and customise their own workflow with “drag ‘n drop” simplicity. Users can visualise and create any process using a comprehensive business rules engine that supports thousands of rule combinations and the most complex of workflow routing.
One day, this stuff will be industry standard.