Enviance Insider

Filter By Categories

Featured Stories

April 06, 2020

7 Reasons to Eliminate Spreadsheets From Your EHS Program

Someone typing on a keyboard With various regulatory requirements and deadlines across multiple jurisdictions, EHS professionals are often challenged with tracking, storing, and managing huge quantities of critical compliance data. For many EHS professionals, spreadsheets are a common tool in managing today’s complex governing environment. Not only are spreadsheets a familiar and accessible option, but they are also simple to use.


While spreadsheets have their ease-of-use benefits, they come with major downsides. Spreadsheets require countless hours of manual data entry to maintain, lack auditability and mobility, and often contain human errors that could cost your organization in fees and fines from poor compliance management. Let’s look at seven important reasons why it’s time to replace your compliance spreadsheets with more flexible, efficient, and secure EHS software.


1. Spreadsheets bring unexpected risks

When manually entering information into spreadsheets, you greatly increase the chance of introducing major errors into your EHS data. With massive, complicated spreadsheets filled with numerous calculations and unit-of-measure conversions, a single error can trickle down and affect data throughout the document, potentially leading to huge fines or penalties. Spreadsheets also allow for unstructured, ad hoc processes for collecting data, and differences that evolve between teams and locations over time make aggregation difficult.


A robust EHS software system includes built-in safeguards to automatically flag any suspicious data. Using software also makes it easier to standardize data and procedures across facilities and supports data collection across the entire organization using common best practices through universal forms, fields, and workflows. By standardizing data collection and capture, it becomes easier to analyze the information, create reports, and escalate compliance issues early.


2. Spreadsheets don't easily adapt to change

Part of managing an organization’s compliance program includes staying on top of frequent regulatory changes and managing those changes as assets are added and removed over time. After each change, you must manually update your spreadsheets to ensure calculations and reports remain accurate. Given how often these changes happen, making these updates manually can quickly eat into efficiency.


But with EHS software, you can easily and accurately upload reporting calculations and other environmental data points from the central system. Those changes are then reflected throughout the database. With software, it can automatically build common and frequently used reports and update those in your system as regulatory requirements and business needs change.


3. Spreadsheets are hard to secure and audit

Although spreadsheets can effectively capture data, they aren’t auditable, which is problematic if multiple people access the document. When someone changes data in a spreadsheet, it does not record who made each change, why they made the change, or when they made the change. During an audit, quickly answering these questions can be critical, and tracking down the source of misinformation could send you on an endless hunt.


EHS software retains an audit trail that records information about who made what changes and when, making it easy to access this information at a moment’s notice. Flexible EHS software also allows different access levels, depending on user needs, so some team members can see critical data while others with a higher permission level can modify data.


4. Spreadsheets don’t alert you to problems and issues

To effectively maintain compliance, EHS professionals need to know when they’re close to approaching or exceeding internal or regulatory thresholds and limits. When exceedances and other problems arise, spreadsheets aren’t equipped to alert appropriate staff in real time. You must instead manually spot check the data and hopefully notice any discrepancies or problems. Additionally, organizations with multiple facilities often use different spreadsheets for each location, which makes it difficult or even impossible to identify problems aggregated across geographies.


EHS software comes with built-in controls to monitor and alert EHS professionals when they’re close to exceeding thresholds and limits to help you quickly identify – and solve – issues while maintaining compliance in real time. A software system also provides flexible, consolidated views of data across an organization, making it possible to easily see roll-up data from multiple facilities and geographies.


5. Spreadsheets don’t reduce manual data handling

When managing EHS data in a spreadsheet, you have to move and adjust data on a regular basis using manual processes. This can duplicate effort and cause inefficiencies as well as introduce room for errors. Rekeying lab data or duplicating data for regulatory reporting to agencies can take a great deal of time and effort. Many organizations have different spreadsheets and folders for each type of environmental data, which creates challenges during regulatory reporting season when report creation often requires cutting and pasting information from different data silos.


EHS software provides a single, centralized system to store all your environmental data. Cloud-based SaaS software offers simple integrations and APIs to automatically move data from one system to another without manual intervention, increasing the accuracy of data and saving valuable time, particularly when creating reports. Mobile apps allow you to collect data, images, and video to provide additional detail and efficiency to data capture in the field.

A chart showing why manual data handling for EHS spreadsheets can lead to errors.


Manual data collection, manual computations, and manual reporting creates many opportunities for errors and makes data assurance difficult.

6. Spreadsheets obstruct data visibility

Unless you designed the spreadsheet, navigating all that data is often harder than it seems. You may not know where the data is located or what sorting parameters to check mark. And even if you did design the spreadsheet and understand how and where to get the data you need, someone else could be struggling and end up using the spreadsheet incorrectly.


EHS software delivers dynamic dashboards that offer data drill-down capability for flexible data visualization and management transparency. This allows you to easily identify sites for improvement, immediately highlight any issues, analyze performance and trends over time, and track corrective actions – all in real time. 


7. Spreadsheets hinder knowledge transfer

To properly manage an organization’s compliance requirements on a spreadsheet, an EHS manager must create a complex, sophisticated document filled with a variety of formulas and calculations. As processes and regulations change, your EHS manager will continue to update the spreadsheet, which becomes more complex over time. Many organizations place the burden of creating those spreadsheets on a single EHS manager, which means all the knowledge about how your organization’s compliance data is compiled, entered, calculated, and reported is dependent on the knowledge of a single person.


This leaves organizations in a precarious situation should that employee switch roles or leave the company. It also creates a sharp learning curve for the next person who attempts to learn how the spreadsheet works. By centralizing requirements, processes, and calculations in an EHS software system, this EHS knowledge becomes readily available throughout an EHS team and to new employees, eliminating guesswork and reducing time-consuming training.


Trade Your Spreadsheets for an EHS Software System

Instead of relying on a slow manual process, organizations can avoid unexpected risks, better manage costs, and work more efficiently by implementing EHS management software. With EHS software, you work off built-in calculations to eliminate errors and can view historical changes for compliance reporting. User-friendly dashboards make it easy to train multiple employees while providing better visibility to avoid risk.


EHS software also includes an integration tool set that can instantly input millions of calculations. This allows your EHS team to better focus its efforts on your organization’s compliance and regulatory requirements rather than spend hours on data entry. Many EHS software organizations can import all the data from your spreadsheets into their system, making the transition effortless.


And these are just a few benefits. To see how EHS software can transform your organization’s compliance programs, request your free demo today. 



Request A Demo-1

Brochure MockupWith 20 years of experience in the EHS space, we get it – and we’re here to help you take your EHS program to the next level.

Get The Guide