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How we built the world’s simplest chemical registry

26.10.2016

It is very hard to refuse a client’s request when it is said like: “You guys have to build a chemical registry service, only you are capable of providing the kind of software that we would actually want to use.” Inspired by this request, we studied how our client’s manage their chemicals and their material safety data sheets. We looked for following things: have the chemical catalogs and their hazard statements been updated to comply with the CLP regulation (H-phrases, P-phrases, hazard category and hazard class), have the exposure scenarios, that SDS might include, been evaluated and documented, are a risk assessments done, and are the material safety data sheets up to date.

We discovered that companies clearly have a need for a chemical registry, which would truly be easy to use. We also noticed, that the software in use felt too complicated, and internal excel spreadsheets /sharepoint lists were causing too much unnecessary work.

We teamed up with pilot companies and started building chemical registry-service. After some time, chemical registry 1.0 was born….and it turned out to be far too complex and hard to use. Its usability was on par with the existing software – we really didn’t like it. We scrapped the product and returned to the drawing board to rediscover the simplicity and usability we had lost during the project.

By the way, it wasn’t easy decision to discard many months’ worth of work, and we were tempted to give our clients access to a product that would be similar to the others already available on the market. We could have recouped development costs by starting sales.

However, we stuck by our philosophy of only offering products that we can be proud of and which we, as clients, would use ourselves. What followed was intense months of work full of planning, programming, testing and interviews. After the crunch was over, our current chemical registry service had emerged. The first comment from a client who was testing the system was, “This is amazing.” That’s when we knew that this would become a hit and we had succeeded.

The chemical registry includes material safety data sheet management, risk assessment of chemicals, a quick guide and labels, usage and storage amounts and a chemical catalog. The inputted data from storage amounts, together with hazard statements, also serves as good base when doing ratio calculations (suhdelukulaskenta). The chemical registry of course runs responsively on mobile devices, but that’s how our software always works.

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