Look under the hood of any effective sustainability program and you’ll likely find a common denominator: great sustainability software. From Target to Patagonia to Hydro Flask, the companies that have led seismic, industry-wide shifts have gotten there using software that allows them to manage a complex range of processes, turning raw data into insights, and insights into action.
While choosing the right sustainability software might seem like a relatively simple decision, it’s a critical one. Managing sustainability across your supply chain encompasses a wide variety of discrete challenges, from collecting and analyzing data, to managing supplier communication, to informing decisions about design, manufacturing, compliance and more.
Choosing the right software will simplify tasks across the organization, making compliance and requests more intuitive. However, the wrong solution may create more headaches and simply add to your workload. Building a more sustainable supply chain is an ongoing process, one that requires you to be flexible, agile and diligent in how you gather and analyze data. With a comprehensive, intuitive platform that puts all the relevant tools in one place, you’ll be able to save time and focus your energy on making critical shifts where it matters most.
Here are a few factors to look for in finding the right software to drive sustainability:
Comprehensive data management
The key to any great sustainability software is the data. Instead of wading through spreadsheets and disparate sources of information, find a solution that aggregates information and makes it easier for you to collect, store and analyze the data you have. Front here, you can generate insights and turn them into action.
- Primary datasets with information for your industry
- User friendly dashboards that allow you to customize views to your needs, such as supplier tier or country
- Impact tracking for key areas like water, waste, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and chemistry
Scalable software that integrates with key systems
Wherever your business is in its sustainability journey, you’ll want to choose software that supports your goals for the long haul. The right platform should be able to grow along with your business’ ambitions, supporting a broader range of functionality as you navigate an increasingly complex web of suppliers, processes and regulatory concerns.
A scalable software system is one that offers a wide range of tools and integrations. Businesses need intuitive tools to gather data and create simple reports. Instead of having enterprise resource planning (ERP), product lifecycle management, business intelligence, and risk management.
Stakeholder collaboration and engagement
To make your sustainability goals a reality, you’ll need to have buy-in from your suppliers. So how can the software you choose facilitate collaboration? The right sustainability software should offer easy-to-use tools that engage suppliers directly in the reporting process.
These features may include the ability to share sustainability data and reports, facilitate internal communication and knowledge sharing, and enable external stakeholder engagement through surveys, feedback mechanisms, and sustainability certifications. Collaboration and engagement features foster a culture of sustainability within the brand and enhance transparency and accountability in sustainability initiatives.
Features you need to simplify stakeholder collaboration:
- Automated communications and reminders
- Tracking assessments from all partners simultaneously, and in one place
- Compare your suppliers’ data to industry benchmarks
Verification and quality assurance
Gathering data is one thing, but how do you make sure the data you’re collecting is credible and accurate? To validate data from suppliers, you’ll need a system for verification, giving you the confidence to share your suppliers data with regulators and stakeholders, and ground future decision-making.
The impact intelligence software you select should include verification from trusted third-party services to align with industry standards and requirements. These accredited experts help mitigate risk and ensure compliance with extensive knowledge of environmental laws and regulations, equipped to take a detailed look into self-assessments to determine whether they’ve been filled out accurately. With the right quality assurance measures in place, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing you can count on the accuracy of the data you’re collecting.
One of the guiding factors for nearly any sustainability program is making sure supply chain processes are aligned with environmental regulations. So the software you use to set sustainability priorities should make it easy to contextualize data through the lens of various regulatory frameworks. Ensuring compliance can be challenging, especially for companies with global networks of suppliers. To stay aligned with an ever-shifting regulatory landscape, you’ll need reporting and analysis tools that help you drill down on critical variables at a granular level of detail.
Find software that supports compliance with:
- Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
- Science-Based Targets (SBTi)
- GHG Scope 3 Protocol
- Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)
Ultimately, there are many options for sustainability software and impact intelligence. Each industry has different requirements, and for brands that create products, the supply chain and complexity goes far beyond carbon measurement. We suggest starting with imagining what the perfect sustainability program management process would look like with the right software solution. Using the challenges and needs you anticipate in the future, frame the requirements you have for your solution. Use these criteria to find the right software solution for your team and needs. The right software can help you lower risk, adhere to regulation requirements, and spend less time deciphering data—and more time making improvements.