Intelex Technologies Inc.

How to Answer Your IT Department’s Questions about Your EHS Software Project

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Intelex Technologies Inc.

If you’re thinking of purchasing EHS or quality management software, you’re likely already sold on the many benefits an automated system can provide – simplified compliance, reduced risk, and easier tracking and reporting are just a few that stand out.

But while you’re getting excited about all of these benefits, your IT department may not yet be on board with your vision. That’s because, as we mentioned in a previous post, your IT department has their own set of criteria when it comes to evaluating software. They’re concerned about things like integration, implementation, and the demands that this software purchase will place on them.

Addressing Your IT Department’s Questions and Concerns

Your software project is much more likely to be successful if you are able to establish a good working relationship with your IT department. Chances are that your IT coworkers have a lot of people vying for their time and resources. What this means is that when IT asks questions about the EHS or quality software you’re proposing, they’re going to rely on your answers to help them prioritize your project in relation to everyone else’s.

You not only need to be prepared with the answers, you need to understand where IT is coming from when they ask these questions. This knowledge will allow you to frame your answers in a way that will address the IT department’s root concerns and ultimately achieve their buy-in.

In this post we’ll help you anticipate some of the most common questions IT will have for you. This should allow you prepare your answers thoughtfully, with their unique perspective in mind.

IT’s Question: Do you have any documentation on the technical requirements?
What They’re Really Asking: Are there any red flags here or can we do this?

How to Respond:  Ideally, you should come to this conversation prepared and armed with any technical specifications that the vendor was able to give you. These technical specifications will include important details about how the software will ultimately run for your company. For example, the software may be hosted by your company or by the vendor, and many companies will have a specific hosting model they prefer.

Although you may not be technically inclined and your IT colleague may want to review this document in their own time, make sure to follow up with them. If any red flags do arise, you’ll need to know.

This question really illustrates why it’s important to involve IT in the process of selecting a software vendor as early as possible. In many cases you’ll be able to address any concerns about the technical requirements that your IT department may have with the software vendor and come up with a mutually agreeable solution, but in some cases these red flags could even end up being deal breakers. Better to know sooner rather than later!

IT’s Question: What’s the implementation going to be like and how much time will this take?
What They’re Really Asking: Is this software going to require a lot of IT resources?

How to Respond: You may already have some information about the implementation process and timeline from the software vendor and now would be a good time to pass this along. However, you should also view this question as an opportunity to have an open conversation and set expectations early on both ends.

Downplaying the need for IT involvement in your software implementation is unlikely to help your case. Especially if this is a company-wide deployment, IT will absolutely need to be involved and they will need to budget their time realistically in order to make your project a success.

It’s also likely that your IT department has existing projects on the go and so they will need to factor your project into the mix in order to figure out how to meet everyone’s needs. From your perspective, understanding IT’s priorities will help you plan your software rollout with all the information and avoid possible unpleasant surprises in the future.

IT’s Question: Why is this software a good investment? What’s the anticipated return?
What They’re Really Asking: Is this project worth spending my time on and my budget?

How to Respond: Presumably you already understand what the benefits of the software will be from your perspective, but in order for your IT department to invest their resources you’ll need to be able to communicate in concrete terms how the company as a whole will benefit from this purchase. Numbers can be very powerful in this instance.

EHS and quality software can often provide efficiency gains that can be seen in a reduction of employee hours required to complete a task (such as an audit) which can be measured in cost savings. Software can also increase effectiveness, for example by ensuring compliance and avoiding future fines.

Speak with your chosen software vendor for assistance calculating return on investment (ROI) and be able to articulate what this will mean for your company.

Involving IT in the Process

In many cases you’ll be able to provide initial answers to the above questions above by passing along information from the EHS or quality software vendor you’re hoping to work with. However, offering to connect your IT colleague with a contact at the software company who can answer their questions in more detail can go a long way towards achieving IT’s investment in your project. Your IT counterpart will likely have more follow-up questions and it may be easier for both them and you to get their answers from the source than to go through you.

As a result, think about the above information as a starting point for establishing a good working relationship with the IT department as you begin your EHS software project.

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