Finding the right ISO 14001 software can be a challenge if you don't know what you're looking for. Getting ISO 14001 certified is a fast growing trend as companies increasingly understand the financial and environmental benefits of going green. Since 2004 the number of ISO 14001 certifications grew by 70%. Today, almost 7,200 organizations in North America join more than 188,000 organizations worldwide in being ISO 14001 certified.
The ISO 14001 Environmental Management system is designed to help organizations manage and monitor the impact their activities have on the environment, by requiring consistent reporting and the establishment of procedures to identify environmental goals.
To get ISO 14001 certified, organizations set their own environmental goals and target reductions, rather than have standards foisted upon them by an outside source. This is one of the main appeals of the program.
Of course, an organization must still comply with its government's environmental standards, as the ISO 14001’s emphasis is on self-improvement and does not remove a company's commitments to complying with environmental regulations.
Although some analysts are critical of this DIY approach, the goal of ISO 14001 is to make organizations more accountable and self-aware.
They achieve this by requiring them to internally create:
- an environmental policy and management program;
- a training program;
- an environmental impact documentation system;
- a management structure, including top-level executives, that reviews the environmental efforts;
- environmental goals and targets;
- and a method to communicate internally and externally the environmental policy.
Finally, the organization must undergo an audit by an accredited certification body.
Is your business considering getting ISO 14001 certified?
While the opportunity to demonstrate to the public and investors your commitment to the environment is appealing, getting certified can be a time-consuming process and is a full-time commitment.
Because there are only guidelines rather than set standards for ISO 14001 certification, there is not an authoritative ISO 14001 audit checklist or official ISO 14001 software, making your ISO 14001 certification process difficult.
However, this situation does allow your organization to find a method of environmental management that best suits your needs. Many organizations are turning to environmental management solutions to help them in their path toward getting certified.
Since you will be defining your own goals and documentation system for ISO 14001, your business will need a software suite that is both comprehensive and flexible. ISO 14001 has numerous and open-ended requirements, meaning that you will have to simultaneously track your air emissions, risk assessments, internal compliance audits, environmental training, and review procedures.
When it comes time for your ISO 14001 audit, the certifying body will be checking to make sure you are keeping detailed records of everything. Ideally, your software will be able to gather all this information in one place. Of course it is possible to use many separate software programs to track each requirement independently, but this will take up more of your time and could end up costing you much more. The best software will be able to track everything at once.
When you are in the market for ISO 14001 software look for these features:
- Customizable – if you software doesn’t adapt to fit your ISO goals then it isn’t working for you
- Comprehensive – the software should track everything you need to manage for ISO certification
- Data automation – exporting, importing, and gathering data should take as little time and effort as possible
- Quick reports – the software should be able to easily produce reports so you can demonstrate your compliance to auditors, upper management, and use in you internal communications
- Multiple users across multiple sites – ISO 14001 certification asks for involvement across all departments of your organization and on all levels of operation. If only your EHS manager has access to the software this can hamper your efforts
- Accountability tracking – the software should link certain tasks to specific individuals in your company so that you can demonstrate your plan’s structure and review process
Of course, we believe that ERA Environmental’s comprehensive Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) software package is your best option for getting ISO 14001 certified. Our software suite includes environmental management, compliance and audit monitoring, forecasting, and health & safety modules, which combined address all the guidelines set forth for ISO 14001.
Get a free online demo to learn how ERA Environmental software can help you get ISO 14001 certified as well as take the hassle out of your mandatory environmental reporting.
(Image by the National Center for Environmental Decision-making Research)
November 1, 2011