There’s an old joke: A tourist travelling in Ireland is lost and stops a local passerby to ask the directions to Cork. The passerby replies “Well, I wouldn’t start from here!”.
It seems, from attending the Cority London Roadshow, that the same sentiments can be felt by those working on the planning and implementation of an HSE software system. Addressing this during his presentation at the Institute of Directors on Pall Mall was Martin Tyler of ERM.
Martin’s was a short and entirely straightforward review of what – should you be considering implementing a new HSE system – needs to be in place before you speak to a potential vendor, and the factors that you’ll need to consider in its implementation.
The beauty of Martin’s overview was in its simplicity (the approach could be applied to just about any specification task) which left one wondering ‘why doesn’t that just happen automatically all the time’?
The first insight was that organisations should never launch their RFI or RFP until it’s complete. This seems a straightforward enough piece of advice but you could tell from the knowing murmurs from around the room (all HSE professionals) that painful experience had, for some reason, made this seemingly simple notion, not quite so simple after all.
Now we were getting to the nub of the problem. As Martin broke the elements of an RFI/RFP down into their component parts it could be seen that the document that goes out to vendors is the product of a great deal of work and knowledge from inside an organisation…and if that knowledge is missing or incomplete then vendors are having to make huge leaps and assumptions. Now, we all know what happens if we make assumptions – “we make an ass out of you etc. etc.” (yes, yes we have all seen American television shows).
So, what were Martin’s pearls of wisdom for effective HSE software implementation?
In very short order they were:
- Develop a strategy that aligns with your organisation’s strategic goals and recognise the fact that whatever system you specify there will have to be compromises.
- Build the team – identify project roles and establish realistic workloads.
- Define and document requirements – the whole team will contribute to this.
- Consider business and HSE processes – which processes are you going to support and in which order.
- Start your business case.
- Establish data conversion requirements – this can be 30% of total cost!
- Confirm interface requirements – consider internal and 3rd party systems.
- Refresh your HSE indicators – review what you track currently and confirm they are the most relevant for tracking effectiveness and performance.
It seems, when writing an RFI/RFP for an HSE system that the devil really is in the detail but by, attending Cority’s London Roadshow and downloading the helpful RFI/RFP template, assistance is at hand – which is a much better approach than just asking the nearest passerby.