With the value and importance of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting coming more to the fore this year, the consideration about whether companies should use sustainability software shifts from “whether” to “which.”
Questions arise, such as what features are must-have’s, and which are less than essential. Most importantly, which sustainability reporting software is the best fit for your business, and which do the best job at streamlining your ESG data management?
With that in mind, we suggest five features to look for in your sustainability reporting software.
1. Is it cloud based and built for mobile?
As with any software today, cloud-based software has a distinct advantage of being accessible from anywhere, and across multiple devices. With remote working becoming part of the new normal, it makes sense to have your sustainability software off premise, available on cloud, and accessible from any location. Furthermore, the current computing era entails data that ‘follows’ the user via their mobile devices, rather than being accessed on one workstation, which makes ESG management more effective.
2. Is it user friendly?
Having sustainability software that boasts a wide array of functionality matters little if it is not intuitive and easy to use. Whatever sustainability reporting software you decide on, it must have an accessible interface and be designed around the end user experience from the outset.
With this in mind, you may want to consider how many iterations the software has undergone, and how well refined it has been over the years. Consider too whether the company providing the sustainability reporting software invites users to comment on their experience and takes that feedback to heart.
3. How comprehensive is its analytics and reporting feature set?
An important consideration when evaluating sustainability reporting software is how strong its analytics and reporting capabilities are. Increasingly, companies need to be able to satisfy a variety of stakeholder requirements. You will further want to consider the fact that investors are looking more closely at ESG measures, and want specific reporting, such as a company’s climate risk. As well, you may also want to be able to garner information from your data that can be focused on different audiences, to maximise business value. Any sustainability software solution should be able to offer you this flexibility.
4. Does it streamline your business processes?
The whole point of using sustainability reporting software is to streamline your business processes through automating time-consuming tasks. Therefore, a prime consideration should be whether the ESG software of your choosing enables you to automate basic tasks.
It is likely that the more advanced the software solution, the more automation options it will give you. Look for software that at the very least, can track water usage, add up carbon emissions and carbon offsets, and that allows you to enter your own Key Performance Indexes. Furthermore, does it automatically generate Corporate Social Responsibility reports, and compute paper recycling ratios? You may want to weigh up how much time its automation functionality can save based on other tasks that the sustainability software can automate as well.
5. Can it spot and flag data anomalies?
Ultimately the point of using sustainability reporting software is to more efficiently deal with large amounts of data and garner business insight. With that in mind, a core competency for your software should be how adept it is at dealing with bad data. Data entry errors happen and having software that can flag data anomalies for you will save large amounts of time.
With this, look for sustainability reporting software that affords you the ability to set validation rules for unusual data entries, or entries that fall outside of particular ranges. In other words, your software should help minimize bad data (data that is inaccurate) and thus ensure you are working with data that is both clean and verified, for optimal results.