MANAGING EHS INFORMATION IN THE INFORMATION AGE FOR A GLOBAL OIL COMPANY: USING EMAIL SYSTEMS, INTERNET, AND CD-ROM TECHNOLOGY
Rapid Global Electronic communication is becoming the norm, and this provides major challenges and opportunities in the world of EHS. The ability to acquire and process information has lead major corporations to develop and rely on EHS “systems management.” Many companies are creating enterprise-wide EHS systems, but there is a gap between the improved ability to collect the data and the proper utilization of it to enhance the value of an EHS program.
The consultant was asked to assist in two phases of Environment Health and Safety Information Management: direct a contractor to build a global system for collecting and managing EHS incident data and then produce an external report that delivers the incident data and other key EHS performance indicators in a way that maximizes stakeholder interest and acceptance.
The first phase was performed utilizing a major email platform, and was based on several principles that the consultant required of the software contractor. First, use techniques to ensure data entry would not need to be repeated at different stages in the process. Second, data entry must be more than user friendly, it must be absolutely intuitive, and require minimal training, and not in any way be considered excessive burden. Third, the data collected must not be based on what is “easy” to collect, it must be based on broader principles of what is the “right” information to collect, even if some data do not appear to have immediate uses by management. Fourth, field user acceptance is more important in the development than management acceptance, because the field user data input process is ultimately responsible for the system working or failing. And finally, build and test a small scale model of the system wide architecture in a single operating unit because of the impossibility of building enterprise-wide system architecture based on input from a global collection of field users. The consultant coordinated field user needs to allow customization to the extent possible after the basic model of the system architecture is determined.
The consultant was also presented with the second level challenge. How to assemble and present externally the EHS incident related data collected for internal EHS management systems, along with additional key indicators of environmental performance. The consultant applied two main principles to the approach. The body of EHS information needed to be presented in a way that broadened stakeholder appeal and the report needed to use a format that matched the company’s culture of technology leadership.
Electronic collection and analysis also means there are no real physical restrictions to externally reporting any data. The process required both identifying key performance indicators, and determining both the stakeholder audience and the best technology to make the highest impact presentation. While a company committee determined the key performance indicators it preferred, the stakeholder audience and format technology issues were addressed by the consultant.
The consultant answered a series of key questions for the Global Oil Company beginning with: Why do an external EHS Report? What is the audience for a report? What does the report really say about the company? How can the internet and multimedia technology be best used to present EHS information? And finally, how does aggressive external EHS reporting enhance the value of the EHS program in the company?
The consultant is expert in the latest internet and multimedia technologies. Using the latest CD-rom based format, a multimedia presentation was produced that not only provided in depth data reporting, but also impressive video stories of the company’s most interesting environmental and safety achievements of the year. The multimedia presentation on the CD-rom enabled the statistical data to be presented with voice over captioning. The
CD-rom also provided an internet up-link directly to the company website which allows the user to access real-time updates of data.
The consultant created and produced for the client an effective external report that builds a wider external audience for this information. He provided detailed examples of the range of stakeholders who now are seeking EHS information from companies and how the new presentation technology reaches them. Many of these stakeholders react positively to the multimedia presentation of key EHS successes and achievements through strong visual media. The client is finding that improving the stakeholder response to the information enhances the value of the entire EHS program both internally and externally.