QHSE Management: Leading changes in the digital era

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At a time where new technologies are omnipresent in our personal and professional lives, the digital transformation of process and in particular QHSE, is an obvious way to improve performance and competitiveness. However, changing employees' working habits can be a real challenge if we don’t take the time to provide the appropriate support.

What are the objectives of change management? How can it be approached in a digitalisation process? This is what we are going to see.


Objectives of a digital transition.

Compliance with regulations and QHSE requirements is a source of significant research and documentary compilation, multiple transmissions of information and reminders and therefore of administrative burdens. Data duplication, loss of information, difficulty in obtaining feedback, paper documents and office files have now become obsolete for companies wishing to improve efficiency, quality and competitiveness. 


By using digital technology, we centralise information and work constantly on the latest version of the documents, while archiving a history. No more duplication of files, form errors and loss of data.


Each stakeholder (employees, management, directors, suppliers, etc...) can have specific individual access to access and compile information (feedback, statistical data, action plans, etc...). No more data collection by email with regular reminders to obtain the desired information. Real-time alerts and automatic reminders can be sent to optimise actions.


The native technologies of laptops, smartphones, tablets or even connected objects such as on-board cameras, drones or connected glasses are also a guarantee of continuous improvement, time saving and quality. Photos or videos can be directly integrated into reports and in just a few clicks become essential evidence for operational audits or certification procedures. No more laborious downloading of photos in random format and layout, everything is automatically set out in a report.  


Digitalisation is a management driven process, with the support of middle management and the collaboration of the entire company. Everyone benefits from this organisational evolution.


  • Employees can consult their task sheets and work protocols directly or send information to management (difficulties, hazardous events, orders, etc...).
  • The middle management notifies its teams in real time of new instructions, sets new objectives that can be consulted directly on a tablet or a smartphone.
  • The management is informed of the company's situation and in just a few clicks, obtains statistical data to guide the company's general strategy.
  • Suppliers, customers or other stakeholders can also benefit from the tool, for example, by providing feedback. 


However, despite the undeniable advantages in the continuous improvement of the company, many employees may be confused or even reluctant to change. It is therefore essential to present the objectives, the reasons why the company wishes to change and to support them in their concerns and difficulties.


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Change management

Change management is a structured approach that makes it possible, for example, to follow the evolution of a process or the arrival of a new digital strategy in a company. The methodology is based on the culture as well as the human and ethical dimensions of the company. The objective is to support employees in understanding and accepting this change.


Change management can be based on 6 key steps as defined below.

  • The objective of a digital transformation

In order to convince operations teams and carry out a digital transformation, it is imperative to be familiar with the company's situation and to be aware of the strengths, difficulties and possible areas for improvement in order to improve performance and reduce operating costs, which can be optimised to make the best use of them. The objectives will be defined and will mainly deal with the optimisation of human, material and financial resources, the improvement of working conditions and the company's brand image.


  • Diagnosis of existing process

A digital transformation is based on an inventory of the current situation and an audit of the company's internal processes. The ethical, cultural and human dimensions must be taken into account in addition to Quality and HSE to properly target the needs and objectives.


  • Project communication

Presenting a digitisation project is a delicate and often decisive step to ensure that all the teams are serenely committed to the process. It is essential to present the company's situation, the difficulties encountered, the objectives of such a change and above all, to listen and provide answers to employees' questions and doubts.

A digitisation project, like any change in the company, can be frightening or create misunderstanding in teams that have sometimes been working for decades on the same scheme. According to them, the project seems to be nothing more than an obstacle to the smooth running of their work without seeing the benefits and comfort that it will bring them in the long run. Clear and serene communication and careful listening to employees and to their doubts is essential to consolidate the project's foundation and the teams' commitment.


  • User training

Once the teams have understood the approach, solid training of the use of the tool must be scheduled so that it can be quickly and effectively put into practice. Digital solutions accessible to all profiles are available on the market. They reassure users through their ease of use and allow them to quickly understand the stakes and interest of the digitisation project. The transition to a digitised activity then becomes easier, quick to learn and therefore rewarding for employees who can continue to work smoothly.


  • Team support

Now that the digital tool has been implemented in the company, the teams still need support. Questions, doubts, concerns will surely manifeste and will have to be answered in order to maintain the tool and commitment over the long term. Being  present on a daily basis with and for the teams is also fundamental for the transition’s success .


  • Project monitoring

Once the digital tool has been properly installed and the teams have been reassured, all is left to do is to monitor the project, report on the difficulties encountered and the improvements that digitisation has brought to the company and its processes. Over time, feedback will be possible and the results will not be long to come.


Change management is essential for the successful completion of a digitisation project and the commitment of employees. Whether they are irritated, worried or trying to negotiate, teams may try to convince you to give up. But if you are convinced by the project, you will find the words to reassure them and create a climate of trust within the whole company. This process must be prepared in advance and requires listening, support and encouragement from all concerned.


The digitalisation of QHSE processes is a real challenge for an organisation. It is also a major ally in day-to-day risk management and a guarantee of quality, performance and competitiveness.


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Thibaut GILLES
Thibaut GILLES
Thibaut Gilles est ingénieur QHSE de formation. Après plusieurs années sur le terrain, il est aujourd'hui content Manager chez BlueKanGo, spécialiste des questions HSE/EHSQ Engineer by trade and Content Manager @Bluekango / Ingeniero EHSQ por comercio y Gerente de Contenido @Bluekango/
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