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ERA's Environmental Compliance Management Blog

Environmental Data Management Software: The Missing EH&S Tool?

Posted by Alex Chamberlain

Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.

Environmental data management software is like e-banking but for EHWhether you realize it or not, you may be mishandling one of your most precious corporate resources.

Ask yourself: do you use a state of the art accounting application to help you manage your business’ money and profits?

Do you have a high-tech customer relationship management (CRM) software system for your sales team to use?

Does your Human Resources team have a central HR database or intranet set up to manage our personnel files?

Now, do you use environmental data management software to manage and track your environmental aspects and streamline your EH&S department’s duties?

Sadly, most businesses will only say “No” to that last question.

The fact of the matter is that environmental data is as important as any other enterprise resource: it has a significant impact on your bottom line just like everything else. By misplacing it, leaving it vulnerable, or otherwise managing it improperly, you put your own business at risk.

Environmental data, all that information that gets collected about your air emissions, energy use, chemical inventory, and production efficiency, is the foundation of a successful and contributing EH&S department.  It is necessary for maintaining a perfect compliance record and avoiding environmental audits and hefty noncompliance fines. Without great environmental data management, a pillar of sustainable business could crumble right before your eyes.

The Right Tool for the Job

It’s time to prioritize your environmental data management the same way you prioritize your business’ finances.

Think of it this way: your company would never dream of handling funds outside of a bank. Would they ever stash it all under a matress?

No, your company probably has secure accounts with a reputable bank, password protections, internet banking options, on top of sophisticated accounting software, software for tracking employee pay and other deductions, and a whole squad of accounting professionals.

Environmental data management software is simply the best way to bring your environmental management up to speed. It can provide the same leaps in productivity and efficiency that you were amazed by the first time you used internet banking instead of waiting in line at the bank, boosting how quickly you can get environmental data processed, shared, and communicated across your business and with federal regulators.

If you aren’t using environmental data management software , you are slowing yourself down and leaving money on the table. Using outdated environmental data management tools, like clunky spreadsheets, or – even worse – hand-written reports stuffed into a filing cabinet somewhere , is one of the best ways to lose sensitive data and the prime suspect in late or inaccurate compliance reporting.

EH&S professionals who get stuck navigating a maze of spreadsheets are never a happy bunch. Trying to find that one missing piece of information or trying to build the right combination of functions that can approximate an EPA-standard formula is a nightmare.

But if you have the right tools in place, suddenly the tools do the work for you. Letting you get back to the real work of improving processes and finding cost-saving ideas.

Benefits you Can Bank On

Think back to the example of internet banking versus in-person, brick and mortar banking. The same principals apply for environmental data management software versus the old-fashioned way of EH&S management:

Faster and Easier

The core strength of environmental data management software is that it significantly reduces the time and effort required to do everyday EH&S tasks. Creating a compliance report for a federal program like Toxic Reduction Inventory (TRI) Form R could take hours doing the calculations by hand and digging through old records, or you could have it done in just a few minutes with a central database storing all your records and a reporting application that can process everything for you.

Just as internet banking made making a deposit or paying a bill a mouse click away, environmental data management software can make data management and compliance reporting as effortless as clicking a button.

Cost Efficiency

With most banks, it actually costs you less to use internet banking than going and seeing a representative in person. The same can be said of using environmental management software: it’ll take less time and fewer people to do the same work as before, which means the overall cost of reporting tasks or data collection will drop significantly. Even better, you won’t ever need to pay a third party consultant to come and process reports for you. It’s like avoiding those frustrating bank fines.

Handles Difficult Processes with Ease

One of the most essential features of environmental data management software is that it comes built-in with all the most vital calculations and reports that you could ever want. Just like internet banking can instantly determine your interest rates, available credit, or any other financial information you’d struggle to figure out yourself, environmental management software comes with all the federal regulations, standardized calculations, and emission factors you’ll need to know.

In addition to all that, environmental data management software can be as secure as any bank vault, and open for business anytime you need it.

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Alex Chamberlain

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

(Image credit: Don Hankins)