EHS Compliance Software: The difference between configurability and customization

As you shop around for EHS compliance software, you’re quite likely to hear two similar words: “configurable” and “customizable.” You might hear these two words in answer to your question, “Can your software do _______ ?” Your implementation success will depend on which of the two words you put more weight in your selection of the vendor. Therefore, it is important to understand the difference between these two similar words.

Configurable means the software can do what you’re asking it to do “out of the box” with a few simple keystrokes. The software is designed to be easily modified by the end user (user developer) who has no programming background. For example, if exceeding water quality limit for a certain parameter in your software is called an “exceedance” but your new water utility customer is using the term “outlier”, configurable software lets you change the word on the form from “exceedance” to “outlier” without any programming or recompiling of the code involved, and without needing assistance from your software vendor. Often, the software will feature configuration options or a configuration workbench where you simply input all such terms and titles from a series of dropdown menus or drag-and-drop functionality. In other words, features and functions of the software are configurable if they are part of the off-the-shelf product.

Customization is a completely different feature. Unlike configurability, customization requires additional software programming (expensive), typically performed by software developers. Customizing software often incurs additional expense to the client. It also takes longer time and requires you to execute a change order—never a pleasant process.

Understanding the difference between configurability and customization also brings awareness of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your EHS software. Configurability is rolled into the software and has no additional fees. Customization requires expensive programming, usually for an additional charge (think “change order”). It is good practice to ask your software vendor upfront which features are configurable and which are customizable. The entire focus of EHS software selection should be on configurability.

I have seen many customers and their consultants and research analysts make a cardinal mistake by focusing on software features and functionality that exist in the software off-the-shelf without asking a single question about configurability. No wonder so many EHS software implementations fail or cost orders of magnitude more than the winning bid. It is not about features and functionality that exist in existing EHS applications, but it is about how easy it is to add, build, or configure features, functionality, or whole new applications that may not be present today using non-developers. It is about the flexibility of the platform, not about the rigidity of applications.


Locus Platform EHS configuration workbench custom workflows


When you’re selecting configurable EHS software, make sure to consider this: If you have domain expertise in EHS and you know how to build a PowerPoint presentation, or you can draw a flowchart, or you can build a spreadsheet using formulae, with sorting tables and charts, then you can build any feature and functionality into your EHS software—provided the software is configurable off-the-shelf.

To put it in simple terms, you are a user developer. You will save your company lots of money and headache and avoid tons of change orders. I should also note that most of the end-user configurable software is built on multi-tenant SaaS architecture and offers drag-and-drop functionality.

Locus application support services for configurable EHS software

Thinking of buying configurable EHS software? Make sure to focus on the right questions

As most people researching EHS software know, the words “configurable”, “multi-tenant”, and “platform” are being discussed everywhere. There are plenty of other great discussions on Platform as a Service (PaaS) and multi-tenancy.  Let’s look at some tips for getting the most out of configurable software.

Locus Platform Configurability

Ask yourself “What sets us apart?”

A key question to ask (as soon as you start thinking about configurable software) is “what sets my company apart?”  What special challenges or circumstances make your EHS needs more nuanced or complex?

  • Are you in an industry or segment of the industry that may have unique tracking and reporting needs? Maybe you are an organic milk producer or only manufacture snacks from sustainable sources following global fair-trade policies.  These more specialized practices may require additional or unique reporting to maintain accreditation.
  • Do you handle non-standard materials in highly regulated environments (such as radioactive materials, for example) that impose additional handling, tracking, disposal, and reporting requirements?
  • Are you a global enterprise with highly variable reporting needs in multiple jurisdictions? Or are you operating in a location with demanding local regulations?
  • Are you operating in an uncertain regulatory environment?

These are just a few of the things that could set EHS customers apart.  The more unique or specialized tracking and reporting needs you have, the more you will value the ability to have software easily configured for requirements that are typically not supported in “off-the-shelf” solutions.

Most modern software handles the “basics” very well, but when you have unique or emerging needs—including future needs that you don’t even know about yet—having a configurable option really pays off.

When needs change, configurable software can be updated easily and quickly by the vendor or even your own in-house staff, saving time and avoiding the agony of “waiting for the next release”. And, best of all, those changes can be done by trained configuration staff, without the need for software developers and the cost and time usually associated with software development.

Configurable Building Blocks


Follow best practices and engage with industry peers

Learning and internalizing industry best practices, a hallmark of the EHS professional association NAEM and its outreach events, can help any software buyer make better choices and evaluate software features, platforms, and key differentiators.  Check out the excellent library of resources, including publications, newsletters, and webinars from industry peers.  By taking advantage of shared industry knowledge, you can dramatically streamline and expedite your search for the right solutions.

One word of caution: many industry publications can be influenced by sponsors.  This is not only true in the EHS domain, but in all industry expert reviews.  That’s why actually talking and comparing notes with industry colleagues is an invaluable resource to get beyond the reviews and hear about real-life experiences with the EHS domain itself and the software options that others have actually used.

If you’re looking for advice on how configurable software may be used to address your EHS needs, talking to actual software users will help.  Locus, along with many other vendors and hundreds of EHS professionals, routinely attends NAEM’s EHS and Sustainability Software and Data Management Conference in order to meet with potential customers and dive into any questions you may have.

Locus Platform Configurability


Know the boundaries of configurability

“Configurable” means something different to each software vendor.  Some will say “everything is configurable”—for a price.  Others will tell you that you can change report names and add a few fields to outputs, and they call this being “configurable”.

Ask the vendor to explain in detail exactly what can easily be configured—and what is “off limits” and requires actual development effort (i.e., additional cost).  You might ask:

  • Are application workflows easy to change, along with associated notifications and audit tracking?
  • Can I change my forms to add five new sections with new lookup values? Will the update be automatically reflected on my mobile forms?
  • Can I create an entire new application for tracking volume of green recycling vs. plastics (or anything else you need to track)? Will the new application show up on the mobile app, or is that a separate configuration?
  • Can the user interface look different based on the user’s role in the application? For example, could I streamline the interface for my technicians so they only see what is relevant for them?
  • Can I change the filter selections on my dashboard reports? How about the charts?  Can I add new charts?

By knowing the software’s limitations, you can make better choices on the best fit for your current (and future!) needs.  Your software vendor may also identify new configurable features that you hadn’t considered before, but that would greatly improve the usability of the software.  Even if you don’t need these options now, knowing you have access to them in the future is critical when selecting software.

Locus Platform Configurability

Beware the illusion of “the perfect fit”

As we’ve established, “configurable” software can mean anything—from a total blank slate and empty platform, to changing a title of a single data entry field, and everything in between.  A “blank slate” may excite more technical people who love to tinker in software programs.  For others, the thought of building their software from the ground up might elicit general fear and discomfort.

Most customers want something off-the-shelf that perfectly meets their needs. Honestly, who can disagree? That is the gold standard and what everyone wants.  In reality, this solution is hard to find—especially for customers with unique need—and often the software tools that address those unique needs are so focused on a particular niche that they neglect some of the other, more basic EHS needs you might have.

The good news is that configurable software provides almost unlimited options for customers, and it can make a huge difference in how the software fits into your EHS workflow.  With some solutions on the market today, you could choose to build one application from a blank slate and make minor tweaks to another pre-built application in the same software.

One of the common pitfalls that EHS professionals frequently encounter in selecting a software solution for a specialized need is the tendency to narrow their options down to limited set tailored to their specific industry.  For example, if your organization has requirements for refrigerant handling, you might feel constrained to selecting a solution with specific “out-of-the-box” capabilities for that need.  Considering the configurability of the software may allow you to consider new and more robust options, and some simple configurations to an existing chemical inventory application could address your refrigerant reporting needs even more accurately, within a single EHS platform.

Locus Platform Configurability


Change is inevitable—make sure your software can handle it

Many customers will buy existing applications that meet their general needs, but eventually realize they need another form, a mobile solution, or changes for new regulations.  Anyone in the EHS industry knows this is the norm rather than the exception.

According to Forbes, federal departments, agencies, and commissions issued 3,853 rules in 2016, while Congress passed and the president signed 214 bills into law—a ratio of 18 rules for every law.  That’s just at the federal level.  It’s not hard to imagine the amount of change when you factor in state and local rules and requirements.

Over the anticipated implementation life for your EHS software, you can be reasonably assured that the EHS requirements for your organization are going to be changed in some way.  Some of these changes you can anticipate, but not all.  Given such routine change, you can safely assume that the more configuration options you have, the more prepared you’ll be for those changes.  You’ll be in a better position if you know you can configure your software quickly, rather than waiting for a scheduled vendor update that may be out of your control.

Locus Platform Configurability


Develop a vision of success—for today and tomorrow

Configurable software can be an effective, sustainable long-term management and reporting solution that integrates smoothly into your existing EHS workflows, but it does require you to do your homework.

You can set yourself up for success with some initial reflection and examination of your organization’s unique needs, a few conversations with industry peers, a healthy skepticism of seemingly perfect “out-of-the-box” solutions, and a willingness to ask tough questions of potential software vendors.  Think ahead to the future challenges and regulatory changes that might impact your organization, and make sure your potential software vendor has provided evidence that you’ll be able to handle these changes through configuration.  Take the time to truly imagine your perfect application and EHS workflow, and ask the vendor to show how it can be possible through configurability.  And finally, don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

Locus configurable solutions


Marian Carr

About guest blogger— Marian Carr, Locus Technologies

Ms. Carr is responsible for managing overall customer solution deployments and customer relationships with Locus’ government accounts. Her career at Locus includes heading the product development team of the award-winning cloud-based environmental ePortal solution as well as maintaining and growing key customer accounts with Locus’ Fortune 100 enterprise deployments. In addition, Ms. Carr was instrumental in driving the growth and adoption of the Locus EIM platform with key federal and water organizations.


The six characteristics of the “perfect” EHS application


Build your own EHS apps with Locus Platform

A configurable application-building platform lets you easily build and reconfigure apps that perfectly fit your business needs.

In the EHS&S industry, companies and organizations demand a unique set of needs from their software applications.

There are many software tools and applications available out there aimed to assist with any aspect of your company. Many buyers get stuck on the question of how to find the perfect app solution for their business needs, especially considering that these needs grow and evolve over time. They spend money and time researching the perfect app that fits their unique situation.

An unexpected solution to this dilemma lies in a configurable software platform— designed specifically to allow you to easily build and reconfigure apps that perfectly fit your business needs.

Developing custom applications on a cloud-based application development platform has a number of advantages that you should consider before deciding to buy an off-the-shelf application that happens to tick all the boxes on your features list. This solution delivers easily configurable, scalable, and well-integrated applications that will help you drive your productivity and success in the future.


Currency cost icon  Lower long-term costs

Custom app development on a platform means you can create a custom application that is specifically tailored to your company’s needs, as well as being focused on scalability and efficiency.

Off-the-shelf software may initially seem like the faster and cheaper option, but the lack of customization for day-to-day operations is ultimately inefficient (and often leads users to invent their own manual processes outside the software to compensate for the software’s inefficiencies).  As the application is used more often, even the smallest issues can grow exponentially, leading to costs that will far outweigh your initial savings on the off-the-shelf software.


Configure customize icon  Better productivity = higher ROI

Configurable custom applications that are specifically designed with your needs in mind will help your team work faster and smarter.  Well-integrated apps on a unified platform can yield major efficiency gains, since all the data is in one place and users do not have to switch between different applications or websites as part of their workflow.

Another added benefit comes from the interoperability of apps coexisting on the same platform, which can drastically reduce input requirements, as well as the need for multiple QA/QC processes.  Input once, use many times.


Speed fast icon  Save time, adapt faster

The ability of an organization to quickly shift technology strategies can mean the difference between dominance and obsolescence in many industries.  A configurable platform enables you to rapidly customize and deploy your application, with a fraction of the time and resources that would be required for an off-the-shelf application.


User Interface UI icon  Common UI, data and security model

Platform applications share the same user interface, security, and configuration-data model amongst all apps.  There is no need to manage data integration or sync issues.

Additionally, new software upgrades are easily deployed to a large number of users, so users will remain in a familiar interface across all apps.  These benefits support faster and easier deployment, as well as rapid user adoption— both of which are critical to success and a high ROI for any solution.


Integration icon  Built-in support for integration with other platforms

Advanced APIs (to support integration of third-party, enterprise, Internet of Things, or legacy applications not on the platform) are interoperable and will help maximize your team’s productivity.

Off-the-shelf software may not be compatible with other programs.  You may need one software product to read IoT data from sensors, another to launch an incident management workflow, and yet another to file a new SAP purchase order.  If the programs do not communicate effectively, they will hinder your work process.

A custom platform app can integrate with a wider set of APIs from different software and data partners, providing a seamless flow of information.


Mobile icon  Mobile capability

Mobile applications have become a significant extension of any web-based application.  A configurable app platform inherently supports an easy transition from a web app to a mobile app, without any extra development efforts.  This saves time, money, and resources needed to maintain the mobile app.  It also resolves any data integration or usability issues that integrating a third-party, custom mobile app could cause with your application.

Still looking for the right EHS software to revolutionize your environmental and compliance initiatives?  Book a demo with us today!


Rehan Shah - Senior Software Engineer

About guest blogger— Rehan Shah, Locus Technologies

An avid programmer, Rehan Shah is passionate about programming and making the world a better place.  At Locus, Rehan gets the opportunity to combine both his passions, making his job much more fun and intriguing.

After graduating from Purdue with a degree in computer engineering, he spent the next 10 years working for industry leaders including HP, Oracle, and ServiceNow.  Now at Locus, he’s a senior software engineer in the Locus Platform dev team, an agile dev team lead and a self-proclaimed Chief Hackathon Officer.

Locus introduces visual rule configuration to Locus Platform SaaS

The new visual rule configuration leverages the latest web technologies. We designed it to efficiently perform tasks in the software configuration process – without any programming. This helps Locus Platform customers meet rapidly changing EHS&S software requirements at lower cost.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., 18 October 2016 —

Locus Technologies (Locus), the leader in cloud-based environmental, sustainability, energy, and compliance management software, has once again expanded on the configurability of its cloud-based Locus Platform. Locus Platform is introducing new visual rule configuration, which allows users to conditionally change the behavior of fields within any form using a simple interface that requires no additional software code.

The system can be easily configured to make certain fields conditionally visible, editable, and required based on other information entered by the user. This makes data-dependent forms easy to construct for any application. This feature is available for all existing Locus Platform applications, as well as for customers building their own applications using the Platform’s configuration tools.

This new feature is pertinent to all EHS applications. System administrators are able to follow a simple setup wizard to create many kinds of dynamic input forms, such as collecting additional information if a user responds ‘no’ to an audit question, or displaying waste code options if a waste profile is categorized as hazardous. With visual rules, the these applications can now be reconfigured for any user without the need for any expensive software development.

With this functionality, Locus Platform emerges as a market leader in EHS&S rule management systems. The intuitive, graphical approach will make it popular with domain experts, as well as managers. EHS&S departments will be able to create and maintain business rules and to automate a wide variety of operational decisions specific to their organization, without needing any programming knowledge. Visual rule configuration reduces the time it takes to develop, implement, and update their applications, compared to traditional software.

“One of the great benefits of the Locus Platform has always been its configurability. Businesses don’t need to modify their practices and policies to fit an off-the-shelf EHS&S solution with predefined forms, features, and rules. Rather, the solution can be configured to their existing practices – without the need to ask a vendor to do it for them. And with the new visual rules feature, that configuration is easier than ever,” said Wes Hawthorne, President of Locus.

“Keeping the end users’ perspective in mind, we’ve packed the same 20-plus years of domain expertise that Locus has been offering into a highly configurable and scalable new software platform, built from the ground up using the latest web technologies,” remarked Neno Duplan, CEO of Locus.

Configurable software solutions—Change is good, right?


Modern software technology and design has enabled an unprecedented amount of creation and innovation by managers, subject matter experts, and technical staff.

Before, if you wanted a new custom facility environmental audit form, you had to create a set of specifications, outline all functionality, and engage software developers to create the application (or just do it all on paper).  This approach could take months to develop, test, debug, and rework.  With the tools we have now, this kind of custom job can be done within a day, complete with mobile-enabled forms.  It’s amazing how modern technology is such a huge time and cost saver.  But it also introduces a new list of challenges that have to be considered when taking ownership of a configurable software solution.

You need to know what you want.

While we now have easy-to-use tools for creating applications, you still need to define what you want to get out of the application you’re making.  When you buy pre-configured software, you adapt your process to fit the constraints of the system you just bought. When you buy configurable software, you’re able to create the exact workflow that you need, but you have to first develop a complete understanding of what your needs actually are. With flexible tools, it’s easy to try out different configurations with your team members.  However, it’s a challenge to have your team on the same page about what configuration will benefit the entire range of users or departments.

Just because you can make easy and fast changes, doesn’t mean you should.

Typically, you have to wait until a vendor updates the software and hope they address any changes you were hoping for.  With configurable software, you or the vendor can make those changes anytime.

However, if you’re making these kinds of changes on your own, without proper management and communication, there is a very good chance you will create usability issues for other users in your community. Even the simplest management system for changes will make everyone’s life easier. For example, you can categorize potential changes by their urgency. The urgent changes can be notified to users immediately (as soon as they are made), and the non-urgent changes can be scheduled for later. Establishing any kind of management and communication system can help you keep your team up to date with software changes.

You are not in this alone.

Configurable software, with its endless possibilities, may seem daunting.  But you don’t have to be overwhelmed with options— there are plenty of people who would love to help you:

  • The software vendor can be your configuration partner and do the work at your direction. You get real-time updates to ensure the configuration keeps heading in the right direction toward fulfilling your needs— and you can spend your time focusing on your business, rather than configuring the software.
  • Your consultants can configure for you. It’s very likely that you have great, trusted relationships with the consulting community, who already know you and have developed some understanding of your business needs.  These resources can help to ensure you get the perfect solution.
  • Your staff likely has people that would love to configure and would jump at the chance to develop an effective solution that benefits the department and the organization as a whole. They are easy to spot— they spend time in Excel and write macros for fun.
Bottom line: Plan, prioritize, partner.

Configurable software can open up a world of options and often prove to be a great choice for many customers.  But it’s important that you understand the process— including all the advantages and challenges that come with it. Decide how you want to manage the configuration and reach out to trusted people. With some preparation and an invested team, you will have no problem navigating the exciting waters that technology has made possible.

Still looking for the right EHS software to revolutionize your environmental and compliance initiatives?  Book a demo with us today!


Marian Carr

About guest blogger— Marian Carr, Locus Technologies

Ms. Carr is responsible for managing overall customer solution deployments and customer relationships with Locus’ government accounts. Her career at Locus includes heading the product development team of the award-winning cloud-based environmental ePortal solution as well as maintaining and growing key customer accounts with Locus’ Fortune 100 enterprise deployments. In addition, Ms. Carr was instrumental in driving the growth and adoption of the Locus EIM platform with key federal and water organizations.

Why SaaS multitenancy is key to successful and sustainable EHS management

A recently published survey by a research analyst firm indicates that 90 percent of EHS software applications installed today are single-tenant on customer premises or single-tenant, vendor hosted.  Only 10 percent are multitenant, vendor-hosted. In other words, most of the vendors in the EH&S space do not run a single version of their software maintained at one location. Instead, they run multiple copies at a single or multiple locations, with the high likelihood that these multiple copies are not alike, but instead represent multiple versions or contain specific customizations for individual customers. This model is crushing their growth and scalability potential.

Locus delivers EHS+S SaaS solutions as highly scalable, Software as a Service (SaaS) application and platform services on a multitenant technology architecture. Multitenancy is an architectural approach that allows Locus to operate a single application instance for multiple organizations, treating all customers as separate tenants who run in virtual isolation from each other. Customers can use and customize an application as though they each have a separate instance, yet their data and customizations remain secure and insulated from the activities of all other tenants. Locus multitenant services run on a single stack of hardware and software, which is comprised of commercially available hardware and a  combination of proprietary and commercially available software. As a result, Locus can spread the cost of delivering EHS SaaS services across user base, which lowers the cost for each customer. Also, because Locus does not have to manage thousands of distinct applications with their business logic and database schemas, we believe that we can scale our business faster than traditional software vendors. Moreover, we can focus our resources on building new functionality to deliver to customer base as a whole rather than on maintaining an infrastructure to support each of their distinct applications.

Multitenancy also allows for faster bug and security fixes, automatic software updates and the ability to deploy major releases and frequent, incremental improvements to Locus’ services, benefiting the entire user community. Our services are optimized to run on specific databases and operating systems using the tools and platforms best suited to serve customers rather than on-premise software that must be written to the different hardware, operating systems and database platforms existing within a customer’s unique systems environment. Locus developers build and support solutions and features on a single code base on our chosen technology platform. Locus efforts are focused on improving and enhancing the features, functionality, performance, availability and security of existing service offerings as well as developing new features, functionality, and services.

Locus customers and third-party developers can create apps rapidly because of the ease of use of Locus Platform and the benefits of a multitenant platform. Locus provides the capability for business users to configure applications easily to suit their specific needs.

Also, Locus multitenant cloud platform makes it possible to use a remarkably small number of servers as efficiently as possible. When organizations move business applications to Locus, they can significantly reduce their energy use and carbon footprints compared to traditional on-premises or single-tenant or ASP solutions

Locus built and maintains a multitenant application architecture that has been designed to enable service to scale securely, reliably and cost effectively. Locus’ multitenant application architecture maintains the integrity and separation of customer data while still permitting all customers to use the same application functionality simultaneously.

Both Locus and its data centers providers hold independent  AICPA SOC1 (SSAE16)  and SOC2 certification.

Environmental and Sustainability Software

We believe that every company that wants to be credible with their environmental reporting must own their data and organize it in centralized database on the web.

Our market category is not shaped by explosive growth of software companies like ones associated with social media or search engines. Our software manages and organizes a type of information on which the future of humankind depends. We organize it in a serious and very scalable way.

To read the full story and interview please click here.


Locus Technologies receives EBJ Business Achievement award for Information Technology

Environmental Business Journal (EBJ) recognizes firms for growth and innovation in 2014

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., 10 March 2015 — Locus Technologies announced today that Environmental Business Journal (EBJ), a business research publication which provides high value strategic business intelligence to the environmental industry, granted the company the 2014 award for Information Technology in the environmental and sustainability industry for the ninth time.

Locus was recognized for significant strategic strides in 2014 including entering the water quality management (drinking water supplies and waste water) market; introducing its new Locus Platform (a highly configurable, user-friendly interface to fully meet individual organizations’ environmental management needs); and launching Locus Mobile (a field data collection solution that is fully integrated with Locus’s flagship Environmental Information Management [EIM] platform). In addition, Locus continues to maintain its leadership position in the commercial nuclear industry by solidifying business with more than 50 percent of all U.S. commercial reactor facilities that use Locus EIM for radionuclides monitoring management.

“Locus continues to influence the industry with its forward-thinking product set and eye for customer needs,” said Grant Ferrier, president of Environmental Business International Inc. (EBI), publisher of Environmental Business Journal.

“We are very proud to receive the prestigious EBJ Information Technology award in environmental business for the ninth time. It is a statement of our vision and perseverance to accomplish this level of recognition, especially now as we lead the market by providing robust solutions for the emerging space of cloud and mobile-based environmental information management,” said Neno Duplan, President and CEO of Locus Technologies.

The 2014 EBJ awards, hosted by EBI Inc., will be presented at the annual executive retreat called the Environmental Industry Summit XIII in San Diego, Calif. on March 11-13, 2015.

Conversations with Data

I was amazed with this presentation about data visualization by National Geographic Emerging Explorer and data artist Jer Thorp. We are witnessing a new revolution in data visualization and one of biggest possible benefactors of these new technologies will be environmental and sustainability professionals. But before data can be put to a good use and hard work it needs to be 1) owned, 2) organized, and 3) socialized. With Cloud-based technologies all three are now possible. Data is the new oil!
Jer Thorp translates unimaginable blurs of information into something we can see, understand, and feel—data made human through visualizations that blend research, art, software, science, and design.


Enterprise Environmental and Sustainability Information Management: There is a Better Way

Data published by the Environmental Business Journal indicate that the global environmental market is approaching one trillion dollars in annual expenditures. Last year U.S. environmental industry generated revenues of about one-third of that. The industry continues to grow at an average rate of five to ten percent per year, and is poised to grow even faster in 2014 than in any previous year.

Despite its impressive growth, some troubling trends persist within the industry. Most notably is the industry’s failure to embrace the cloud-based  information management revolution. Not adopting the latest technologies for capturing, storing, distributing, managing, visualizing and reporting information increases costs of managing emissions to air, water, and soil, delays the cleanup of contaminated sites and management of climate change information necessary to better understand causes of global warming phenomena.

Most companies “own” their financial, human resource, customer relations, and other data. This information typically resides on computers located in the company’s facilities, or it may be housed off-site in data centers managed by an outside party, or more recently in the SaaS-based Cloud applications. Regardless of which alternative is adopted, both are similar in that:

  1. Information is stored in a consistent and organized manner in central databases developed by professional software companies.
  2. Employees within the company have, to the extent that their privileges permit, continuous and unimpeded access to these data.
  3. Companies unquestionably own the data and are able to change support vendors at will.

However, the way companies with environmental liabilities manage and store their environmental information and data stands in marked contrast to the model they have adopted for all their other key data. Historically, environmental consultants have used narrowly focused applications built on spreadsheets and client/server databases to serve the complex software requirements of this market. Today’s landscape of available technology options has consolidated; new and better options exist. While planned IT spending on environmental software is rising, organizations are still struggling to identify software and service providers that can support environmental information management in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed with other enterprise initiatives and enterprise software, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and supply chain