Do you use chemicals at your facility or in your business? If you do, you probably already keep some sort of chemical inventory to track your material usage and emissions data. Implementing the right chemical inventory software could have an enormous impact on the rest of your business.
An inefficiently managed chemical inventory system can lead to real problems, including ordering incorrect materials, using chemicals that put your permits at risk, and complicating your Toxic Release Inventory reporting.
Inefficient management is the main reason why so many companies are upgrading to chemical inventory software as part of their environmental management solution (EMS).
If your business is thinking about choosing a chemical inventory software, here are 5 features we see to be "essential":
1) Material import capability
One of the most effective features to look for in your chemical inventory software is product import capability.
At certain facilities, the majority of an EHS department’s time is spent manually entering MSDS data into the company’s environmental management system (EMS). This labor time is wasted effort when your EHS team could be putting valuable effort into cost-saving projects and green initiatives.
The ability to import chemical data directly from suppliers frees up this time by eliminating manual data entry.
This feature is also the one that makes the biggest difference on your bottom line. If you’re just exchanging one form of data entry for another, upgrading to chemical inventory software isn’t going to save you time or money.
Look for a chemical inventory system that eliminates the work.
2) Company-wide data sharing
A key feature in any chemical inventory software or environmental management system EMS system is the ability to instantly share data with anyone in the company who might need it.
Company shareholders want to know about your environmental programs and CEOs want to be in the know when it comes to environmental management.
The ability to share standardized data across your company, either through a shared database or in specially designed reports, is really an essential necessity.
3) Audit trails and record keeping
There’s a reason that spreadsheet software just doesn’t work: it leaves you vulnerable to human errors, either due to misunderstandings or even a simple typo.
Worse, spreadsheets don’t keep track of who entered the data, which means that in the event of an audit you can’t rely on your records.
Chemical inventory software needs to be more than just a data repository, it needs to maintain internal records and audit trails that you can depend on.
4) Data security
You can’t afford to lose all your chemical data because of a computer crash or by forgetting to save a document.
You also don't want to leave your chemical inventory data open to just anyone.
If you’re upgrading to chemical inventory software, make sure it comes with a promise of data security, including password protection, multiple access tiers, and data backups.
Environmental management can actually put your mind at ease when you know your data is safe and secure.
5) Automated Product Approval
Smart chemical inventory software not only eliminates the work of entering product data, it can also eliminate the risk of violating environmental permits by notifying you when a potential addition to your chemical inventory does not comply with your standards.
Taking the guesswork out of compliance does double duty by saving you labor time, but also helps you avoid paying noncompliance fines during reporting season.
Chemical inventory software can be one of the most important tools in your business’ toolkit. When you’re ready to upgrade your chemical inventory system, just look for these features and you’ll be set to save time and money.
If data automation is something that interests you, download our free eBook about EHS data automation.
About the Author: Alex Chamberlain is a writer and blogger who regularly contributes to ERA Environmental Management Solutions' blog. You can find Alex on Google+, LinkedIn & ERA's Environmental Compliance Blog