Adopting a sustainability system brings long-term competitive advantages to a business. Few businesses today would consider operating without a company wide financial system and business intelligence tools. We believe that increasingly the same mindset is felt with sustainability teams.

There is increasingly powerful software emerging and the challenges in deployment and adoption are decreasing. We think now is a great time to get on board. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. “Whole business” data and scenarios

A sustainability system will be capable to handling all the metrics relevant to your targets including qualitative and quantitative data. You will be able to footprint and analyse the whole product portfolio and all scope 1 & 2 emissions in a cost effective way. This means when doing a what-if analysis you are able to see proposed change in the context of the whole business across all your goals. Trade-offs between metrics, trends in performance and challenges to your business will be evidence based. The feasibility of your targets and the cost implications will provide feedback to strategy and decision making.

2. Communication in the business

The sustainability department performs a facilitative role between departments and must be able to challenge and communicate with all parts of the business. From a top level analysis at the board level to detailed LCA information when making material choices. Soft and hard data are both required to advance the sustainable brand. Deploying a sustainability system allows you to connect all this information, communicate it in different forms and make sure everyone is notified when there is new relevant information.

3. Ad-hoc analysis

Performing fast ad-hoc analysis when questions come up enables effective response to next years challenges. “What % of our product portfolio is using FSC cardboard?”, “Which regions are most vulnerable to a rise in natural gas prices?” or “Which of our suppliers has the highest risk to our sustainable brand?”. The ability to quickly test theories speeds up the pace of innovation and as reporting requirements evolve your solution will continue to have the data to generate standard reports for internal and external use.

4. Real-time information

An online sustainability system means that at any point in time a stakeholder can evaluate their past, current and future performance. Live benchmarking between facilities and projection to targets means facility managers will be immediately aware of performance changes. This provides the ability to spot trends as they emerge and to link up specific improvement projects and investment (e.g. LED light fittings) with the resulting impact and cost effectiveness. Generally speaking real time information means faster feedback and therefore better decision making.

5. Build up a database

Integrating all your data onto a proper database platform helps to ensure that the data, studies and analyses are never forgotten. Each project, case study, action plan and product design contributes incrementally to the pool of knowledge and remains searchable, accessible and comparable to new data. You can continue to to drill into the data and all charts and report output is remains backed by the real data available for further analysis.

In summary we believe that a sustainability system will provide a solid foundation for evidence based decision making and now is a great time to embark on the journey.

Adam Lofts - CTO