Getting down to data

We love the eye opening, brainstorming and learning stage of organisations sustainability journeys. When the rubber meets the road however, data is the key to having an authentic and value adding sustainability roadmap.

Energy, employment, diversity, customer feedback… the list goes on. How your company is performing in its major impact areas, and what’s important to your customers and investors. When you know what, the hard yards start with respect to generating the data to benchmark where you are. Then you can set targets for where you want to go. And track progress.

It is impossible to determine which efficiency projects and/or sustainability initiatives will be most effective to implement without thorough data and risk analysis. It’s often repeated, and we unashamedly use it all the time “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” This is as important for sustainability as it is for finance. From start to finish, your company’s entire sustainability roadmap should be shaped by data. So what are the options?

1. Manual Collection (Painful / high risk)

Everything can be gathered manually from supplier bills or meters, then consolidated. For multi-site operations people are often missing data and estimating, and it’s generally painful. Then it has to be repeated for updates, with training for new staff in the event of churn.

Online calculation tools get you started but once you are into the detail they are frequently found wanting. Then if you are going to publish the data you will have to have an accuracy audit and this can reveal gaps. And end up costly.

In our experience a manual approach is a good way to get started and understand the data. It can also work well for unregulated smaller companies.

2: Automated Collection/Dashboards (Big early effort)

Various platforms can extract the data from different sources in a repeatable reliable way. They also provide or easily enable accuracy and scope verification.

With this route there is typically a big upfront effort and depending on the source can be pricey. Given time, these tools will find there way into ERP systems and the big players are already making strides.
A frequent challenge with this approach is the data the platform wants just isn’t there. So a measurement systems has to be added, cascading additional effort through the business.

So what?

With reliable data readily accessible to decision makers, you will have a clear picture of where you company is on impacts. More importantly you can set targets, and bring the all important accountability needed to drive positive progress. Reducing risk and adding value as you progress.


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