Decision making is driven by data. Quality data gives a company the knowledge and capability required to make smart decisions, and to back up those decisions with meaningful supporting evidence.
However, many companies find that collecting quality data concerning their operations can be a challenge. Existing data collection processes often yield incomplete data that is not guaranteed to be accurate or up to date, and that does not provide an appropriately holistic view. Without this foundation, making the right decisions can be difficult, especially for leaders in sustainability looking for ways to demonstrate that sustainability can be a part of a profitable, successful business model.
How do data collection and monitoring relate to an organization’s sustainability commitments?
Many organizations are looking for better ways to monitor sustainability in their operations. With an increasing number of investors and customers recognizing sustainability as a major factor in their decision making, effectively tracking use of energy, water, waste and other resources has become crucial for any large company looking to improve its long-term returns and customer relations. By identifying processes and points throughout an organization that can be improved or optimized, accurate monitoring and data collection can play a key role in improving efficiency. It is also the first step for organizations aiming to quantify and reduce impacts on the environment and local communities, ensuring that their operations have a positive impact on the world around them.
Once quality data has been made available to them, facility managers, sustainability professionals, and other company decision makers will be on track to make better, more informed decisions based on verifiable evidence. With this foundation in place, they will be better equipped to take concrete action, creating more effective programs and processes to improve performance, or organizing audits to maintain the quality of data, set benchmarks, and track progress towards new and existing targets. The ultimate goal is a real-time integration of the messages and stories that the data is telling into a company’s operational decision-making and governance structure.
What challenges do organizations face when attempting to improve data management?
Clearly, the benefits of effective data collection are manifold and significant. However, monitoring and managing data on the scale required by a larger organization can be a real challenge. Organizations with multiple manufacturing sites or other facilities can generate truly massive quantities of data. Not to mention the varying levels of data tracking and availability across global operations. Compatibility can also become an issue, as information is often collected from multiple sources using varying formats. With no overarching data management system or policies in place, consistency, accuracy, and having the right types of data can present significant challenges.
What steps can you take to improve your data strategies?
- Create Connected Systems: To combat issues with compatibility, put in place data architecture that allows you to set a standard to how your data is collected, stored, and processed.
- Education and Institutional Knowledge: Using current reporting structures (e.g., CDP, GRI, EcoVadis) as an opportunity to train, educate, and collaborate with facility managers throughout your organization to understand the importance of the data, solve data gaps and inaccuracies, understand the importance of the data, and develop action plans that can affect those operational parameters.
- Technological Solutions: Business-as-usual data collection can have multiple points of failure/error due to transferring data through multiple sources. Look for ways to use technology to automate, streamline, and increase confidence in data sets.
Many organizations also turn to third-party data management and evaluation services for assistance in monitoring their most data-intensive activities. Services such as ADEC Innovations’ Sustainability Data Management can significantly streamline the processing of energy, supply chain, social, and environmental data and documentation. Better data management can also be implemented as part of a larger task, such as building a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, conducting water risk assessments, setting Science-Based Targets, or setting out a carbon management plan.
Having access to your organization’s sustainability metrics is a step in the right direction, but the real value of data comes from how it is used. More rigorous management and verification of carbon data is important - so long as it is carried out in such a way as to enable measureable, definitive action. The ultimate goal for any organization looking to improve how it manages sustainability data should be using that data to reduce environmental impacts, create more effective and efficient processes, and improve overall performance. The more rigorous an organization’s data management, the more confidence it can have to make effective decisions and take real action towards sustainability.
ADEC ESG Solutions is a leading provider of ESG solutions, including fully-integrated industry expertise, software solutions, and data management. Contact us to learn more about our sustainability data management services.