Buyer’s Guide: Online Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Management

Buyer’s Guide: Online Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Management

The market for safety data sheet (SDS) management is highly competitive. When it comes time to choose, you’ll likely have a tough decision. That’s because most organizations (1) don’t know what they need (2) don’t know what’s available and (3) don’t ask the right questions.

That’s where we start—with the right questions and considerations.

Picking the right system will save you time, money, frustration and keep your organization safe and compliant. This is a must have, how-to guide when it comes to asking the right questions to make an informed purchase.

Vendor Service Record

In a highly competitive provider landscape, customer service and support is a true differentiator. In addition to these considerations, you will want to ask sales reps to for customer testimonials, referrals to speak with actual customers, along with any supporting data and on customer retention or renewal. The best way to learn about organizational values, is to speak with a real customer, for an unbiased opinion.

Ease of Use & Scalability

Large organization with a complex chemical footprint? Racks on rack of toxic substances, by the barrel? Or small business, just trying to stay compliant and short on time to negotiate the ins and outs of OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (1910.1200)? It doesn’t matter—everyone benefits from “software” that is simple and easy to use. “Usability” is a key area of focus for any buyer. You will want to be sure that potential providers show you thecurrent version of actual SDS management products used by actual customers. How else are you to make a comparison? A good start is get your organization a dummy account, to play around with, and encourage your team to try and break it. Apply it to your organizational, even in a limited sample size. Most providers will accommodate serious buyers this way.

Data & Storage

With online SDS management platforms, there’s a lot behind the scenes that may not be apparent to customers. You’ll want to ask about recordkeeping, offline backup and accessibility, server reliability, etc. These are kinds of things most prospective SDS management buyers don’t know to ask or care about, until something happens during the length of your contract, and you experience an interruption or fail of service that negatively impacts the safety of your workforce.

Is the SDS Platform a Subscription model?

Most of the online SDS platform providers operate under a subscription model, typically involving annual agreements. There are some important considerations associated with this pricing model. With each provider, it is important to explore “terms & conditions”, implementation time, billing flexibility if available, and ask about hidden costs.

Approach to Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Management

Most customers who are currently working with a provider for online SDS management have an unfortunate shared experience: it took forever to get up and running and far too much of their time. When you’re buying something to make your professional life easier, and help move your organization forward, you will want to be sure that what you’re signing up for doesn’t become some new, unneeded, time-consuming project unto itself. Remember that a SDS management system is supposed to simplify, not create complexity.

Search Capabilities

Many providers claim to have billions of safety data sheets in their inventory. Which is great, but you don’t need that many. Maybe you need 487 sheets with room to add a few more in the upcoming months. The ease with which you and your team can find and access the right safety data sheets is a big deal, no matter how many you. For large organizations with 1000s of SDSs, that is even more true. So be sure to get a full preview of searchability, and ask for a test drive. Search is probably the top utility for any online SDS management system.

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