Customizable off the Shelf Software (COTS): What is it and what is the benefit for organizations?

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EH&S software is not a new concept, in fact, it’s being around for almost 30 years. There are numerous software applications for SDS record keeping and management, chemical inventory tracking, container transactions, waste management, workplace safety, OSHA reporting, audits, and inspections.

Most of these applications contain features that software vendors have designed to automate and regulate tasks that EH&S professionals perform on a daily basis. EH&S software is not only about EH&S professionals, but also used by many other people in an organization, such as principal investigators, facility managers, hazardous waste handlers, chemists, audit inspectors and compliance teams. Different individuals have different levels of software experience, features, and workflows that cater to the tasks they need to perform.

Having said that, most EH&S software available are COTS (Commercial Off-the-Shelf), which means that they may satisfy the needs of the acquiring without the need to commission custom-made solutions. This is also a problem, though. Any of this software may require from you to adjust your workflows to the capabilities and possible limitations that the software has, being off the shelf. What will do the job is a Customizable off the shelf software, also spelled COTS.

Customizable off the Shelf Software (COTS): What is it and what is the benefit for organizations?

Let me elaborate further on this. Although it may be true that some commercially available of the shelf EH&S software will do many or most of the things you need, they will not cover all your needs. What about your workflows? You are used to working in a way that is designed to meet the needs of your organization. Changing your current workflow to accommodate an EH&S software poses too much burden to your organization because end-users will be reluctant to change the way doing their daily jobs and disrupt their routine.

Does that mean that an EH&S software to automate and regulate your workflows is not the right choice? Hardly. A customizable off the shelf software caters for exactly this: you get all the features that you need, off the shelf, but still, you have the ability to customize it to your workflow as not to disrupt your end-user community.

Chemical Safety’s EMS Software is a Customizable off the Shelf software (COTS) that allows you to automate, control tasks and regulates your chemicals, hazardous waste, inspections, audits and workplace safety by adjusting to your workflows and not vice versa. Based on our experience with hundreds of customers and thousands of users in the US, including the US Government, US Military, the EPA itself, DoE, USDA, as well as Universities, Life Sciences organizations, R&D entities and manufacturing companies, none of them had to change their workflows to adjust to EMS.

There is a clear benefit to any organization that chooses the right balance between staying compliant and considering their end-user community. At the end of the day, the decision acquire an EH&S software pays-off if that software fulfills its purpose, which is to be used daily and effectively by its users.

Visit to learn more about EMS and request a live demo.

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