Talk to any CIO or IT Manager in just about any industry and it won’t be long before they talk to you about the problem with data. One of the hallmarks of the 21st century from a technology point of view has been the exponential increase in data. Data is abundant and seemingly limitless. But our ability to make sense of it hasn’t quite kept pace.
This growing deficit between data abundance and our ability to analyse it is one that is and will continue to define technological progress in our age. Nowhere in business or civic planning does this growing divide more urgently need to be addressed than in sustainability policy.
In this blog article I want to look at how CSR and sustainability reporting software can help to shorten the gap between data and analytical capability, whilst empowering CSOs and other decision makers in all areas of business to drive business-wide policies that have strong quantitative data at their heart.
What Data to Measure?
As I’ve already explored in a previous post, one of the most important steps in establishing how you’re going to collect and manage your sustainability data, is understanding what data your organisation is producing and where it comes from. The map you build from this is called a data topology and the more complete it is, the more informed your and practical your sustainability reporting will be.
Understanding your data and where it’s coming from is only one piece of the puzzle though. Another is knowing what you ultimately want to do with it. Sustainability reporting is a function of CSR software that has many uses, from environmental compliance and audit to informing CSR policy at a strategic organisational level.
These are big questions and they need to be addressed before you even begin looking at how CSR software can play into your strategy.
Data Migration and Unification
One of the advantages of using CSR software is its ability to create joined up reporting that is fed by disparate datasets harvested from across the business. It’s important to remember that datasets don’t all fit neatly together, migration is a real challenge you have to overcome. Getting the data into the system means talking to people across departments and understanding what data they are collecting and in what format.
Compliance and Sustainability Audit
One of the primary reasons for using CSR and sustainability management software is its ability to produce compliant reports with ease, helping you meet any mandatory regulatory reporting requirements. The current carbon reporting standards in the UK were introduced under the Companies Act 2006 Regulations 2013. Your business might also report to voluntary frameworks like the Carbon Disclosure program or energy management standards ISO 50001.
CSR software won’t only give you a strong audit trail but can take advantage of templates to produce country or organisation compliant reports on demand. It can even be set to remind you when certain reports are due for submission. Compliance might be a necessity but the real value in CSR software is in the insights it can reveal about your business practices and processes.
More Efficient Supply Chain Management
Sustainability reporting is often associated with manufacturing industries as these tend to be more energy dependent than other industries by their nature. The growth of networked tracking and sensor technologies, commonly known as the Internet of Things, has been driving a quiet revolution in supply chain management for years. At the heart of these technologies sits the software that brings all the data together into a single interpretable whole.
CSR software allows the real time monitoring of systems and processes throughout the supply chain, whether it be tracking assets, individuals or tracking other environmental indicators like greenhouse gasses, water or waste materials. High performing areas can be quickly identified and efficient practices replicated and rolled out across other areas of the business.
Other functionality includes:
- Integration with other business departments
- Benchmarking against other organisations
- Accurate ROI Calculation at a project level
Finding the Right solution
Finding the right sustainability software solution isn’t something to be taken lightly and there are many considerations to be taken into account. Having a full understanding of what kind of data you want the software to track, what reporting functionality you need and who will be using the software are all important considerations. Getting the stakeholders on board and involved in the decision making process, whether it be the CIO or the CSO, is crucial.
At SustainIt we understand how big and complex a decision this is and with scores of vendors and literally hundreds of software solutions out there, we decided to develop GoMarketWise. This puts the power back in your hands by instantly comparing the CSR and Sustainability reporting software solutions out there, based on your requirements. It’s free to use and will save you a lot of time in digging around assessing what the right solution is for you. Getting a demo for any of the solutions is then just one click away!
Alternatively you can always call us on +44 (0)117 325 0695 to chat about your sustainability data requirements and how we can help you grow your CSR policy and build a more sustainable, efficient and profitable business.