Organizations are coming under increasing demand from a variety of stakeholders to include sustainability principles into their business plans. Companies frequently turn to suppliers of sustainability management software to assist them in lowering their environmental footprint and ensuring that employees are treated fairly as they set ambitious environmental, social, and governance (ESG) targets.
What is sustainability management software?
According to Abhijit Sunil, senior analyst at research firm Forrester, sustainability management software, also known as ESG software, aids enterprises of all sizes in tracking and reporting on metrics relevant to their ESG goals, including greenhouse gas emissions, trash output, energy use, and more.
Additionally, they let businesses build dashboards that guide internal decision-making for various personas.
[Sustainable IT: A social and environmental perspective on business technology]
According to Sunil, sustainability management tools also aid in the creation of scenarios that allow businesses to comprehend the steps they can take to lower their carbon footprints for the organization and how to set goals for the organization to do so.
Additionally, he added, sustainability management software aids businesses in disseminating this data into standardized reporting frameworks and standards like the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, Global Reporting Initiative, and CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project).
Be that as it may, manageability likewise implies focusing on friendly and administration issues — the “S” and “G” in “ESG.” While a large part of the consideration in maintainability is centered around emanations revealing, it’s not unidimensional, said Amy Cravens, an examination chief at IDC. Progressively, associations are extending their ESG drives to follow execution in other ecological issues (water, waste, circularity, and biodiversity), as well as friendly (labor force and local area effect) and administration (consistence, morals, protection, and security) issues.
According to Cravens, IDC is observing a significant demand from businesses for sustainability management software.
“That’s because ESG is still kind of new for a lot of companies, and they’re still struggling to understand what they need to do and how to approach it,” the expert said. Companies are avoiding their ESG reporting by using the software in collaboration with service providers.
Benefits of sustainability management tools
Implementing sustainability management software has a lot of advantages, such as:
Better data collection: Maintainability According to Aapo Markkanen, VP, expert at Gartner, the executives tools provide robotized information collection and monitor an organization’s energy use, how much waste it produces, how much water it utilizes, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The device eliminates the need to physically screen and acquire information, which speeds up the cycle, increases its effectiveness, and reduces the risk of mistakes.
Data-driven decision making: In order to assist businesses in making decisions about how to lessen their environmental effect, create sustainability targets, monitor their progress toward achieving those goals, and come up with methods to improve, the program gathers and analyzes sustainability data.
Increased transparency: Companies can inform stakeholders, such as employees, customers, and investors, about their sustainability efforts thanks to the reporting and analytics capabilities of ESG technologies. Gaining the trust of clients, partners, and customers by being open about their sustainability goals.
Reduced environmental impact: Companies can specify the essential actions they must do to reduce their negative environmental effect with the use of sustainability management tools. Recycling materials, cutting carbon emissions, and doing away with single-use plastics are some of these actions.
Compliance with laws and regulations: Infringing on environmental rules and regulations, as well as those pertaining to social justice and governance, can be detrimental to organizations because they are always changing. Utilizing sustainability management solutions, businesses can make sure they stay up to date on these legislative changes and maintain compliance.
Improved reputation and brand image: Most customers are more likely to patronize businesses that care about the environment. 60 to 70 percent of consumers said they would pay more for [items with] sustainable packaging, according to a 2020 McKinsey & Co. survey. Consequently, businesses that follow sustainable business practices are likely to grow their revenue in addition to improving their reputations.
Defense against ‘greenwashing’ claims: According to Cravens, sustainability management platforms assist businesses in developing a case against accusations of greenwashing. When businesses, whether on purpose or accidentally, present false information about their commitment to sustainability, this is known as “greenwashing.” Organizations need to substantiate their claims, she said, in order to combat greenwashing.
Defining characteristics of sustainability management software
The following aspects should be present in any sustainability management software that businesses use:
Environmental compliance: This function analyzes and reports on firms’ environmental performance by tracking and managing their compliance duties, ensuring that organizations abide by environmental laws, norms, and regulations.
Social compliance: helps businesses comprehend how they treat different groups of people, such as customers, employees, suppliers, and community members, as well as the effects of their business actions on society.
Energy management: The software’s data analysis features can be used by businesses to track their energy usage and identify places where they are wasting or inefficiently using it. Additionally, businesses can find patterns and trends in their energy usage and find strategies to improve efficiency.
Emissions monitoring: Monitoring emissions enables businesses to make sure they are following environmental laws and to find solutions to reduce emissions.
Sustainability management tools gather data from a variety of sources, including water and electric meters and waste management systems. The same is true for data pertaining to governance issues, such as the diversity of board members, executive salary, corporate ethics, and regulatory compliance, as well as social variables, such as employee wages, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, and data security.
Companies may set restrictions for things like garbage creation, water use, and energy use thanks to the program. In the event that environmental indicators exceed set values, the program will monitor these levels and issue alarms.
Inspections management: Utilizing sustainability management tools, businesses may plan and oversee sustainability inspections of their buildings, equipment, and assets, ensuring that inspections are completed on time and in accordance with a predetermined schedule. Organizations can also designate specific staff for these inspections and monitor their performance.
KPI monitoring: Utilizing sustainability management tools, businesses can define particular environmental and social goals as KPIs. Companies can see their progress toward achieving their sustainability targets thanks to the software’s ability to track these KPIs over time and produce reports.
Avoid these pitfalls when selecting software for sustainable management.
The following are some major sustainability management tool problems that businesses should avoid:
Markkanen of Gartner. When used as a proof of concept or in the pilot stage, these technologies may look fairly persuasive, but scaling them up to a global level to encompass all of [an organization’s] processes is difficult.
Not considering that it’s still early days for ESG software:
which will have the most life span and which will have the best highlights — on the grounds that they’re still for the most part in the improvement stage,” she said. “So, it’s challenging for organizations to figure out which will be the lead arrangement a long time from now.”
Albeit this doesn’t block youthful organizations, associations ought to recognize sellers with strong client and accomplice bases and that have solid subsidizing, for example, Persefoni, she said.
Not establishing priorities based on organizational and sectoral capabilities:
He cited the example of some [businesses] having highly developed internal sustainability teams and systems in place, while others had not even begun.