5 Keys to a Successful EHS Software Implementation from a Large Utility Company

For many industrial organizations looking to improve an area of operations, legacy systems and processes are a given. And the larger an organization is, the truer and more onerous this fact becomes...

In the case of Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) management, this may result in serious shortcomings in abilities as EHS requirements around reporting, compliance and other capabilities grow on the regulatory side, and the competitive advantage to be gained from streamlined and improved EHS performance also increases with the trend of EHS integration into Operational Excellence initiatives.

But, as will be shown in this blog post, with the right level of buy-in, project scope, and due diligence, legacy inertia can be overcome to foster EHS success.

Southern California Edison's EHS Management

Southern California Edison (SCE) is one of the largest utility companies in the United States, with over 90,000 miles of distribution lines supplying power to nearly 15 million people and 285,000 businesses across Southern California between Mono and Orange Counties.

SCE had a history of homegrown and point solutions put in place for EHS management. When Terri Roberts, Corporate EHS Compliance Principal Manager at the company, encountered a solution less than optimal to fully address EHS compliance management, the company began a search for the right EHS management solution back in 2007. These challenges included:

  • Disparate processes: Multiple processes were used that were neither automated nor scalable
  • Incident management: Solution lacked the robustness needed to handle different incidents such as hazardous material spills, agency visits, environmental events, and others
  • Environmental compliance: The company needed to manage requirements for more than 60 different EHS compliance areas at the federal, state, and local level
  • Environmental clearance: Was a manual, email-based process with the corporate EHS department
  • Hazardous waste management: Needed upgraded tracking abilities for hazardous materials
  • Reporting: Disparate and redundant systems made timely and accurate reporting very difficult

Key Takeaways from SCE's EHS Management Implementation Success

Through a multi-year process of careful search and selection, SCE has been able to update its EHS management capabilities through software implementation. It did so through adhering to these five key takeaways.

  1. Ensure executive buy-in: SCE acknowledged this was a key element of its success. By securing top-level sponsorship, cross functional team leaders were able to cultivate grassroots support for new EHS management initiatives, and this rolled through to companywide support for software upgrade.
  2. Carefully assess integration capabilities: An EHS solution that doesn’t integrate smoothly with core enterprise systems like ERP may end up being as much of a problem as it is a solution. It’s important to assess how solutions considered will integrate with essential aspects of existing or planned ERP systems across all elements, like human resources, finance, work management, and others.
  3. Re-assess previously bypassed vendors: By nature of competition and development, a vendor that may have been inadequate in EHS during a previous software development cycle may now present an appropriate choice due to acquisition or response to customer demand.
  4. Set challenging yet achievable deadlines for implementation: SCE is proof that considerable application roll-outs can be accomplished in short time frames. The key is to be both aspirational and realistic in your goals. This is achieved through a collaborative, disciplined approach with your vendor (and implementation partner, if needed), and setting deadlines that are immovable based on internal and external resources. Once you have balanced these aspects, build out a hard project management calendar that is challenging but achievable based on existing resources.
  5. Start change management activities before project kickoff: Change management is a capability you cannot overdo. Identify a single person as project owner and change management facilitator, and use agile methodologies to provide the most immediate value. Also, provide functional and technical training for project resources to ensure a seamless transition.

SCE achieved its EHS software implementation goals through following these and other EHS best practices, but you may be wondering what the results were of this implementation. To find out which specific applications SCE pursued, further details about implementation methodology, and the performance improvements the company was able to realize, click below to access the full Case Study. In exchange for completing a brief survey, you will gain access to this Case Study and the entire EHS Research Library for one year.

EHS management

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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