If you have been tasked with buying expensive enterprise software for your company, you might have seen the budget and felt a bit weak in the knees afterwards. There is a reason why it is called enterprise, and it is not because they are cheap. EHS software is the same, and while it is always going to be a gamble, here are a few surefire signs in knowing that you are looking at the wrong one.
Ugly User Interface
When working in EHS, some personnel might be looking at the application’s interface for multiple hours within the day. Should they be faced with an ugly interface, then it might just stress them out throughout the day. As they say, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and when it comes to user interfaces, these eyes are looking for particular things and these are:
- Proper contrast – When the day drags on, you might wanna shut off your mind for a bit and you start going full auto pilot when doing certain task. The brain is programmed to be able to do familiar task with little mental effort but this can only be done if a repetitive task can be easily replicated. When the contrast is bad, for instance the pages and the buttons look almost alike, then you might have difficulty in gaining the familiarity enough to go full auto. When you have difficulty in trying to distinguish between options, then the stress can drag on as you keep second guessing before doing right action. And finally, poor contrast can lead to human errors as each action may seem similar to the eyes of the user.
- User friendly – A friendly user interface means that the application itself need not explain itself for you to understand how the software is to be used. EHS software may be a bit more complex than your usual data entry applications however, but that does not mean that the software cannot be user friendly. Tips in the form of bubbles, and plenty of help options in menu bars, can alleviate some of the difficulty in navigating through the application.
- Intuitive – If a software is developed and tested enough for a long time, the user interface can develop an intelligence derived from predicting possible user action and scenarios that are bound to happen. For instance, if a user comes across an unfamiliar page, judging from how often that page is opened, the application should be able to display some hints as to how to proceed especially if the options are not so clear.
EHS software encompasses quite a few several areas of interest and this is the reason for a few convoluted applications as some trying to cram too many features into one interface. When buying EHS software, bring at least one EHS officer with you, preferably the ones whom you know would struggle in using computers. Ask them to test it out and listen to their honest feedback before buying the software.
Can only function online
Microservices and detached APIs are all the rave right now. In layman’s terms, this means that the software is being hosted on a different location thus many of the functionality that is traditionally handled by an onsite host is being handled instead by a proprietary server someplace else. There are many advantages to this in relation to data security, concurrence of data, and of course accessibility as you may be able to access the application in any place.
The danger however is if the application you bought does not have any offline capability. Offline resilience refers to the ability of a software application to work even when detached from its server whether it be local or external to the company. Since the company has no control over how the servers are being managed, this ability is starting to become more important.
There are plenty of ways to implement offline resilience in most application. The developers can choose to cache important information locally so us not to halt operations should the connection to the server fail. Or the software can be developed as an offline application that only connects to the server to update the data stored there.
Offline resilience is particularly important in EHS software because at least half of these applications may have to be run on the field where data gathering occurs. As we know, internet connectivity outside the office may be suspect thus the software should be able to work around that.
No free version
It is common practice for software companies to offer free versions so the potential buyer can try it out before pledging to spend extravagant amounts. Using the free version, the user should be able to use the features albeit with some limitations, just to see if they can indeed help their operations.
Having no demo version is a red flag as it may imply that they are hiding something from their potential buyers. While this is not true in most cases, having one can increase the confidence in the product significantly.
Most EHS software offer lite versions that are free or are less expensive than the full versions. The usual limitations come in the form of reports that are disabled or a limit in the amount of data that you can store in their server. Should an EHS software come with a cheaper version, you should opt for it first so you could map out all the limitations. And finally, you should be wary of possible problems that may arise when upgrading your version of EHS software.
One of the main functions of EHS is to ensure that the company is complying with the law. This means that the EHS software will have to abide by any sudden change in the law. A good EHS software will have constant updates to keep their customers from breaking any policies. They should also offer background summaries after every update so as not to take the users by surprise.