Whether your goal is to improve your data collection efficiencies, increase the depth and detail of your analysis or have a better understanding of what is happening on both a macro and micro level, there are some real challenges that CSR professionals are facing.
#1 Improving data collection efficiencies
Creating greater efficiencies in data collection is a real priority for non-financial reporting. For many, this means moving from spreadsheets and instead start to use an online solution for data collection. The real advantage with an online system is that it makes analysing the data and identifying areas of improvement becomes much easier to manage. It means that organisation can react more quickly and make necessary changes to prevent waste and allocate their resources where they are needed most. For any organisation that is running tens, hundreds or even thousands of sites, this information means that they can be confident that they are investing in the right places to make sustainability improvements.
#2 Increasing frequency of communications
In a world of 24 hour rolling news, people increasingly expect to be able to access the information they want at a time that is convenient for them. Investors, customers and employees want to have easy access to information, which means organisations have to consider how best to communicate with both their internal and external stakeholders. Increasing frequency of communication can ensure greater transparency of CSR initiatives. Therefore it’s increasingly important for sustainability experts to have a comprehensive communication plan in place.
#3 Automating as many manual processes as possible
Having a degree of automation can both speed up processes and also make them more accurate. Automation could come in many forms, including sending out email reminders for data requests or having an easy to access view on how complete the data sets are (without having to resort to multiple spreadsheets). It can also mean automating some of the calculations and being able to analyse performance, based on dynamic report templates.
#4 Analysing performance at both a macro and micro level
Having the right level of detail to understand what is happening on a site-by-site basis is vital for understanding efficiency of different locations. It means you can quickly identify whether a site is above average, average or below average and make any changes accordingly. It also means that there are opportunities to see how local energy efficiency schemes are working and roll them out to the whole group, if they are successful.
At the same time, it’s also important to have a macro level view of non-financial performance. Typically, for both company executives and investors, the key headlines are going to be the most important and interesting information. It makes it easier to evaluate whether sustainability and CSR initiatives are achieving the goals that they set out to complete, as well as understand what still needs to be improved.
#5 Looking beyond historical data and becoming more forward thinking
Data collection lends itself to evaluating what has happened in the past. But, increasingly, companies have to look to the future and understand the plans and provisions that they need in place to remain competitive. For example, being able to model potential future scenarios (such as predicted energy spend or community initiatives) means you’ll be better informed on where you need to focus, quickly seeing what the most successful projects are likely to be and investing in them accordingly.
Are these challenges that you’re currently facing? Talk to us today to find out more about how we can help you overcome them
[image credit: Jörg Reuter]