Welcome to CSR Reporting
The concept of CSR reporting is almost as flexible as the concept of CSR itself. Every company can define what CSR means to them any way they wish. Each can also choose how to communicate CSR progress in whatever way suitable.
The lack of uniformity may be exhausting, even frustrating for some. What would happen if every company independently decided how to report financial results? On the other hand, this level of flexibility enables companies to be creative and come up with a report that reflects its authentic voice, vision, and values.
Without Data There is No Story
While the stories differ widely, all CSR reporting requires data. Capturing and managing data is the first step in a process that is time-consuming and error-prone.
The challenges are real. Just as they complicate CSR reporting, they complicate any reporting exercise such as responding to The Carbon Disclosure Project or reporting under the Global Reporting Initiative or any other sustainability reporting protocol.
A CSR reporting organization may operate some 200 facilities around the world. The organization reports greenhouse gas emissions. Usage of electricity and various fuels at each facility must be identified and multiplied by some emissions factor, which may be location-specific.
Often these are tracked in a spreadsheet, which is posted on a shared server or distributed by email to hundreds of far-flung facility managers. Results start to trickle in, but as frequently happens, several respondents send revised spreadsheets, with highlighted cells that contain corrected (or previously missing) data. Yuck.
Other respondents have written comments into spreadsheet cells. Some are reporting back in units that hadn’t been anticipated. Some of the responses are so out of range that a mistake must be assumed, but what’s the right number? Duplicate entries get found… and fixed.
Other respondents provide cost data, some don’t. Some provide info in USD, others in various foreign currencies.
You are in Spreadsheet Hell
In short, the blending of the spreadsheets is turning out to be a nightmare, requiring endless version management and email correspondence. Finally, after several weeks nirvana is achieved – the single blended spreadsheet with the final results… or is it?
- A lot of money was spent on fuel. How is the cost distributed across the facilities? Is it evenly distributed?
- Are there facilities at which the cost per unit fuel is very high or very low?
- Is there an audit trail? Can this be verified by an auditor? Gotta have the numbers.
- How reliable is this data? Did all locations report? Were some missing?
Scope 5 Solves these Issues
We see this general pattern and frustration frequently. Way too many hours get spent producing one deliverable like the CSR report.
While the final report (probably) answers specific questions, it’s often difficult to glean insights from the underlying data. And too many organizations repeat this tedious exercise year after year, with little ability to compare the results over time or to analyze the wealth of data collected.
The right kind of cloud-based application greatly simplifies data collection and management, saving valuable time and democratizing data to save money and make for a more productive organization.
Clients Turn to Scope 5 For Help
With our consulting services, Scope 5 can help you go from a jumble of spreadsheets to a CSR report. We take your spreadsheets, upload them to our cloud-based platform and give you the numbers. Our software crunches your data or teaches you how yourself.
If you want to use our software solution directly, that’s fine too… it’s how most of our clients choose to work with us. Either way, let’s take a deeper look at the benefits this kind of application brings.
With a cloud-based application, there’s no need to email spreadsheets around. Each ‘data provider’ logs in to the application and enters their data. Because a single database underlies the application, the data is always up to date and coherent.
Scope 5 incorporates error checking and warns of outlying, missing or duplicate data. Unit conversion is built in, enabling each user to provide data in the units most convenient. The application quantifies the quality of the data so that the user can decide whether he or she can be confident in the data.
The application provides an audit trail. Since each user logs in under his or her credentials, the application ‘knows’ just who created or updated each data record and when. An audit trail should also allow users to upload files or images with each record to substantiate the data.
A cloud-based application can be designed to both give the data provider flexibility in data entry (such as by offering a drop-down with a broad choice of units) while simultaneously restricting them to a common format (such as requiring monthly data rather than annual). The application might allow the data provider to define new fields or column names while keeping the basic structure and data relationships intact.
Charting, Reporting, and Analyzing
Collected data is a potential treasure trove of insight. The value of the data beyond its initial intended purpose might not be realized for months. Data in spreadsheets is static and perishable, whereas data in a relational database and accessible through a quality application, ‘comes to life’. Users with different needs and interests can chart one variable as a function of another. They can segment the data in ways never intended, revealing insights that lead to operational improvements.
Flexibility and Customization
In a cloud-based application like Scope 5, the administrator of the application can add categories of data and can configure the detailed parameters around each category in a manner that supports specific business processes. This exercise should not require a team of experts to customize the application at significant cost but should be doable with a few clicks
Automated Data Collection
The cloud-based application can automate the otherwise tedious process of data collection. In many cases, data can be periodically retrieved electronically from other data stores, such as online utility accounts or other systems that are already part of an organization’s infrastructure. As such, data remains current without requiring manual effort.
If the data is not available electronically, it can be imported from third-party spreadsheets in varying formats.
Removing Complexity So You Can Tell Your Story
Scope 5 works with CSR reporting organizations to help them find a better way to manage their sustainability data. Spreadsheets make the work of tracking and reporting data tedious and error-prone. Cloud-based applications like ours make this kind of work far easier. In addition to saving time and money, these applications increase the quality of the data and can lead to actionable insights.
How can Scope 5 help you get ready for CSR reporting season?