By Sphera’s Editorial Team | March 13, 2017

A foot is a foot is a foot, right? Of course; unless it isn’t.

If you isolated five people from around the world and asked them how to measure the size of a person’s foot, you’d likely get five different answers. But if you put everyone in the same room where they could identify and speak a common language and discuss things, the group would be able to come up with an answer that integrated everyone’s ideas into one solution that answers the question.

The same holds true for environmental, safety and supply chain software when you’re dealing with various complex standards on things such as health and safety, risk and energy. How do you achieve clarity?

Take ISO for example. How are ISO 31000 risk sources (or hazards) and ISO 14000 aspects related to one another? Aren’t ISO 14000 impacts a subset of ISO 31000 consequences? Even industry standards create the potential for confusion for no reason other than the fact that different language is used. This is simply due to the means by which these standards were developed over time.

ISO’s Annex SL was created to provide a template for new standards and to streamline implementation of multiple standards within one organization. Unless you’re well-studied, you may not be aware of this, and the cornucopia of technology solutions available to enable your management system certainly don’t all adhere to a common framework.

You need a solution that integrates the information rather than a potpourri of isolated software offerings that do nothing but complicate matters for large and medium-size companies with multiple divisions and locations. You wouldn’t want your environmental management software at your German chemical plant to be “speaking” a different language than your Louisiana refinery, especially if you are concerned about assessing risk across the entirety of your operations. By using a series of isolated systems, companies face risks from simple inconsistencies to miscommunication.

There’s a multifaceted benefit to integration of your environmental performance solutions, which is: An integrated system can be more cost-effective, provide more valuable information resources within the company and improve the operating discipline of the company because it provides a standard that the organization can operate around. Ultimately what that means is a company can have complete, comparable visibility into the operations across various facilities, regions and business lines. No more information silos.

Companies might use tens or hundreds of different platforms to enable their standards-based management systems, each with their own unique appeal to the part of the business that they serve. If that’s the case, what you most likely have is a Tower of Babel situation that goes farther than just people and systems not speaking the same language—they might be speaking the same language but meaning something quite different.

See the problem?

That’s why enabling your management systems with integrated, rather than isolated, systems can be so beneficial. The tools themselves can help improve the consistency and discipline of the organization making your management system that much more effective. A solution such as Sphera’s Compliance Assurance can eliminate any software redundancies and get everyone in the company on the same page and speaking the same language to be able to meet all applicable standards in a more meaningful and productive way.

And that’s a feat in and of itself.

To learn more, please sign up for Sphera’s upcoming webinar—“From Isolated to Integrated”—on March 8, 2017, at 2 p.m. ET. JR VanOrder, CH2M’s global practice director, and I will discuss the benefits of an integrated system vs. an isolated one.