Information systems are a critical foundation of any chemical management program since “what gets measured gets managed”.  To identify opportunities to reduce chemical use, waste and cost, managers first need to know when and where chemicals are acquired, used and stored.  Accurate, timely, accessible and actionable chemical purchase and inventory data is key to improved decision making and chemical management.

Three primary types of chemical management software are available to meet these needs, each with benefits and issues to consider:

  • Custom-developed software
  • Chemical management software (commercial off-the-shelf)
  • Chemical management services (CMS) provider software

Below is a summary of the benefits and issues to consider with each type of software solution.

Software Type Benefits Issues to Consider

Customized software:
Customized software applications may be designed and built with internal or external IT resources.

1. Functionality designed around current processes and systems

1. Total cost of ownership (design/develop/maintain software)

2. Project timeline

3. No leverage of industry best practices

4. Limited continuous improvements, no scheduled upgrades

Chemical management software:
Commercial, off the shelf (COTS) applications from specialized chemical software providers may be configured to customer specifications.

1. Incorporates best practices and continuous improvements (via scheduled upgrades)

2. Lower total cost than custom applications

1. Requires investment to customize software for customer use.

2. Software alone is no guarantee of improved performance: do chemical managers have time, expertise, incentives to take advantage of quality to drive improvements?

Chemical management service (CMS) provider software:
Many CMS providers include data management services and systems that may be configured to customer specification

1. Incorporates best practices and continuous improvements

2. May be included in cost of services

3. Seamless integration with CMS processes

1. Requires initiating a CMS contract: is CMS the right cultural fit and business solution for the organization?