Welcome to part two of our guide to help spring clean your Corporate Responsibility (CR) reporting process.
In part one, we explored the challenges that CR professionals face around data gathering, data accuracy and repetitive spreadsheet tasks. In this second, concluding post, we will discuss the commonly-used tools that are falling short, and how you can clean up your CR reporting process in 2018, saving yourself time, money, stress and effort.
Common Tools Fall Short
As mentioned in part one, a study conducted by the Triana Group found that more than half of US companies surveyed are using either Excel spreadsheets or a combination of Excel and an Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) system for their CR reporting. According to big-four auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a major issue with using Excel as the default tracking tool is that data is often of inconsistent quality and difficult to audit. Software tools designed specifically for CR data typically generate ‘more auditable records’. Only 23% of US companies pursue external assurance for CR data.
Large EHS solutions deliver 56 percent less value than expected while running 45 percent over budget and 7 percent behind schedule. These systems do not cater to CR teams, who often end up using spreadsheets despite spending money on external software.
Although the market is saturated with both EHS and Energy Management Systems (EMS), they struggle to get buy-in from U.S. sustainability professionals because they can often over-promise, but under-deliver. This is because companies invest in EHS systems that work great for Health and Safety professionals but neglect the complexity and accuracy of sustainability data. Let’s face it: health and safety is an animal all on its own, while sustainability experts agree that environmental sustainability should be in a class by itself. This is due to reporting frameworks, like the TCFD framework, are becoming more complex – and investors, stakeholders, and customers are demanding more with higher accuracy.
Companies choosing best-in-breed solutions and integration for each department alone are having outstanding success. Choosing a broad solution that covers energy, sustainability, health, and safety is just too much. These solutions can be summed up with a simple saying: “Jack of all trades, Master of none”.
“Large EHS solutions deliver 56 percent less value than expected while running 45 percent over budget and 7 percent behind schedule.” – KPMG Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting, 2017
A recent report by NAEM stated that 50% of CR professionals and IT teams use consultants to vet out a platform for them. Consultants often chose from five EHS systems that they already work with, and that will require the consultant’s services throughout – with implementation times that last a year or more and are often rejected by others within the organization. This method clearly does not have the organization’s best interests at hand. The CR teams are forced to use these broad jack-of-all-trades systems, chosen for them, often exporting their data into Excel to calculate emissions, run reports, and report to other internal and external stakeholders, resulting in more legacy processes and disconnected technologies that are manual, repetitive, and error prone. Band-aiding together several manual tactical processes or software components and hoping for the best is not a solid strategy!
Insufficient tools result in substantial non-value added time spent by your team to make up for this tool gap. How many different tools do you use? Excel, email, EHS, EMS, SharePoint, Word, Powerpoint?
Data Accuracy and Verification
Accurate CR data is a critical business element and reports that are signed by the CEO/CFO illustrate the vision for the long-term viability of a company. Stakeholders are demanding data that is accurate, transparent and verified. This can be a challenge especially when the data is not available. As mentioned before, the data is often decentralized, colleagues do not respond to questions, mistakes in estimations and conversions are common (calculation, lining in Excel and extrapolations), and keeping up the production of the breakdowns required by institutions, such as CDP, investors and customers.Some companies have their CR data audited by a third party. However, it comes as no surprise that audit costs continue to increase year-over-year – often as much as 15-20% – adding to the costs and stresses of the CR teams.
Holding on to top talent
Companies need to address these challenges, as CR professionals are feeling unappreciated, suffering from email fatigue, and are not able to deliver the quality of work that is expected from them, simply because of the tools they are using. In addition, it is well known that in order to attract and retain top talent, you need to be utilizing cutting edge tools and resources. CR professionals want to be part of a company that utilizes best-in-breed technology, so that their time can be well spent on more important tasks. Spending unnecessary time on manual, time-consuming tasks is barely attractive to professionals in the job market.
How comfortable are you in all of your numbers? How much back-and-forth does your team experience with incomplete data, inaccuracy, and errors? How do all of these factors affect team stress levels, and employee retention?
Change the Paradigm
It’s time to Spring clean and take control of your CR reporting processes on your own, without the need to involve costly outside resources. Ecometrica enables CR teams to eliminate most of the non-value added tasks so you can focus on activities that are more productive and profitable: the tasks that matter most. Tasks that involve making sure reports are complete, accurate, and transparent.
CR professionals who use financially-accurate data to tell the stories of how their organizations have evolved, and where new opportunities exist, often find that senior leaders start listening. Remember, executives need these stories too, as they deal with shareholders, partners, and investors. When CR professionals can deliver accurate, clear, trustworthy and consistent data in a timely manner, their teams become valuable to an organization and are then seen as an asset.
By showing that sustainability can add value to a company’s bottom line, CR professionals can have a bigger voice in the decisions their organizations make.
Delivering Financially-Accurate Sustainability Data
The Ecometrica Platform is the only platform on the market that can deliver data accuracy that is consistent with financial data, that can be signed off by CFO and presented with confidence in SEC report. We do this through our Audit Ready output, the only GHG accounting Platform to have PwC assurance.
Significantly reduce your time collecting, verifying and calculating data. Ecometrica’s Sustainability Reporting Platform gives sustainability professionals their time back to efficiently and accurately share its vision for the future with management and your stakeholders.
As CDP’s only gold partner in all 3 programs, Ecometrica allows teams to deliver clear, trustworthy reports in a timely manner, with increased scores.
Ecometrica has empowered hundreds of organizations by enabling their non-financial reporting teams to more effectively collect, manage, and report on data, allowing teams to focus on what is meaningful to the company and tell their story.