Begin With the End in Mind: Keys to Implementing Your New EHS Analytics Project

Learn how to implement a successful EHS data analytics strategy

When engaging in a new EHS software project, it’s best practice to ‘begin with the end in mind’ but what exactly does this mean? And why is it so important when it comes to analytics? If you’ve mapped out a clear, ideal state for how the EHS data you’re collecting will flow through to your reporting, it will help keep your project on time and on budget.

When planning an EHS software project, it’s not uncommon to tackle reporting requirements at the end. It makes sense to create dashboards and reports once the rest of your software is setup – but keeping a laser focus on the metrics you’ll want to easily see at the end of your project can help shape your software configurations in a meaningful way that ultimately leads to a successful project.  

Get clarity 

If you’re working with a consultant or a professional services team, be clear with them on the KPIs and metrics you will want visibility into. Lean on their expertise to ensure you are collecting the information you need to report on in the most efficient way possible.

Here are a few practical recommendations: 

  1. Itemize and capture important data so look-up tables and values are configured correctly during implementation.
    If this step is overlooked, you may realize during the last phase of the project that there are reports that require additional values in look-up tables, which means added late-stage configuration, and in turn impacts your timelines and potentially costs. 
  1. Outline rules for how EHS data should be restricted.
    EHSQ software solutions like Cority offer robust and flexible security. Security settings govern not only how users can interact with the software, but also what data they will ultimately be able to see in your dashboards. For example, if you have a team that should only be able to see incident data at their facility, or if you have certain data types that should not be visible to anyone outside the safety team, outline these requirements at the beginning to ensure your security rules will enable the right people to see the right data.  
  1. Consider the role of an organizational tree in controlling access to EHS data.
    Once you have clarity on how data should be restricted, make sure that organizational hierarchies align with your security rules. For example, if an environmental manager needs to see air data across geographies, or a product line manager needs to see safety data by product line across all regions, make sure to setup support for both those use cases in your data set.  

Find the right KPIs 

A successful analytics implementation will provide stakeholders with the data they need to do their jobs effectively. Intentionally selecting KPIs and metrics that are meaningful to your organization is critical. EHSQ teams are often gathering huge quantities of data in a variety of ways including APIs, automated imports and manual data entry. Your EHSQ solution contains critical data – make sure you are getting every bit of organizational value out of it without introducing burdensome data collection processes that don’t yield meaningful results.  

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If you aren’t starting from scratch with a new process, then a good first step is to look at what reporting, metrics, KPIs and dashboards already exist and evaluate whether those will continue to serve your organization well.  

However, implementing a new analytics tool is a good opportunity to evaluate what new kinds of reports you might want to create. Particularly if you are implementing EHSQ software for the first time, you may have access to new data measures that can help you that you hadn’t previously considered. Technology may open the door for you to collect information previously unavailable to you such as GPS coordinates. 

Align KPIs with strategy 

When considering EHS analytics, be sure to consider the broad picture and assess what metrics and KPIs will best serve your organization. Look at your company’s business plans as well as any improvement targets that have been set. Consider as well what EHS data can help create a healthier, safer workforce and contribute to improving environmental outcomes. 

ESG performance is another strategic factor to consider. As investors are coming to see that companies who prioritize ESG issues generate superior long-term financial performance, the global rise in ESG investing is causing many companies to set goals to improve environmental performance and employee safety. Metrics to measure the success of their operational changes are of course, necessary, and often in the realm of EHSQ professionals. Additionally, there’s a growing trend of tying executive compensation to ESG performance, in which case you will likely want your metrics to align with those measures. 

When it comes to sustainability metrics, consider:  

  1. How will you measure the success of programs? 
  1. What data will need to be included in ESG disclosures and CSR reports? 
  1. Will you need EHS data for individual facilities or across the corporation? 
  1. What corporate strategies are in place to improve sustainability and how can data be used to measure the success of these efforts? 

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Dig into why 

As you evaluate what metrics will be meaningful, it’s helpful to interrogate the EHS data you are collecting and understand how it can be used. For example, if a dashboard shows a certain result, what actions are you going to take? If you’ve created a color-coded dashboard, what concrete actions will you take if one of your KPIs falls into the yellow or red? If you can’t identify any actions, then the metric may not be benefitting you and you may want to focus your efforts in a different direction.  

Analytics should be paired with action plans so that if you are seeing early indicators of problems or trends headed in the wrong direction, you can work with stakeholders to take appropriate steps to change course. If you are able to operationalize insights you gain from your EHS data, your company will be better positioned to hit targets and goals. For example, if you’re seeing increased safety incidents and you are seeing that root cause training is now being followed, then you can schedule additional training and work through the appropriate stakeholders to remedy the issue and continue to monitor your KPIs to see if training has an impact.  

Related: How to Find the Right Analytics Tool for Your EHS Data

Know your stakeholders 

As with almost any EHSQ process, working cross-functionally across teams will be key to successfully meeting stakeholder needs across your company. Outside of the EHSQ teams, operations, finance, maintenance, engineering – each department may benefit from having access to some EHS data as well as understanding how their processes affect the data you are reporting on. You’ll want to consider a few categories of requirements which may be overlapping or may be entirely unique between stakeholder groups: 

  • data you must report on 
  • data you want to see for your own team 
  • data other teams such as operations might be interested in 
  • data your senior leadership or board will want to see 

Pro Tip: The use of SMART metrics is a common best practice. Setting metrics that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely can help you monitor and evaluate your progress over time. 

Key questions to consider as you formulate your EHS data strategy: 

  • Are the metrics being collected today working for our organization? 
  • Is there additional data I could report against if I had an EHSQ software platform? 
  • What KPIs am I measured against? 
  • What KPIs will my senior leadership want to see? 
  • What KPIs will other teams need? 
  • What data do I need to ensure is collected in order to create these metrics and KPIs? 
  • What goals or initiatives exist within my organization that I may need to align with? 
  • How could my EHSQ data be used to improve operational efficiency? 

Next Steps

Successfully developing analytics that will drive improvements in your EHSQ programs takes some effort upfront, but it will pay off immensely when you have data you need to stay in compliance, and the insights to make informed decisions. Cority’s CorAnalytics is a powerful Business Intelligence, data visualization, and predictive analytics solution optimized for EHSQ, powered by Qlik Sense®, one the world’s top BI engines and leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. We would love to talk to you about how Cority can empower you to drive better clarity and business performance.  Connect with one of our EHSQ experts here.