Upon the arrival of new technologies and the Internet, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was taken to the next level. Social media platforms allow people to access, discuss, and expose information as events occur. Information is traveling at the speed of light. Companies are facing new challenges and are now more than ever expected to respect their commitments. Currently, specific tools are emerging to help companies manage their CSR actions to ensure they respect these commitments. Among these solutions, software for data management have become very useful to facilitate operations, respect commitments and generate institutional memory.
With all the software out there, how can a company choose the one that fits its particular needs? Here are five tips that will facilitate the decision process.
1) Does the CSR software correspond to the needs of your industry?
This might seem implicit to most, but when choosing a sustainability data management system, the first step is to identify solutions specialized for your industry. Specialized (and customizable) solutions will meet your needs rather than you having to adapt to a static product. Keep in mind that software solutions which deal with issues similar to the ones you face should not be overlooked, even if they slightly vary from your business area. In addition, each industry has ethics and best practices. For the extractive industry, lenders such as the World Bank and the IFC have specific guidelines that must be respected by borrowers. CSR software should take such guidelines into account.
2) Does the CSR software have a user friendly interface?
When looking at the solutions available, companies should never overlook the fact that the product should (and must!) be user friendly. A system which is simple, easy to navigate through and that processes meaningful reports provides users with an enjoyable experience. This makes them more likely to use it on a regular basis. In most cases, CSR software users are field employees, who need to work with an intuitive system that allows them to quickly gather information. Furthermore, the software must be able to fit their needs in terms of mobility for in the field data collection.
3) Does the CSR software adapt to your lifecycle?
Not all companies are at the same stage in their lifecycle. This has an impact when choosing CSR software. Why? The product must adjust to fit their needs, for a different stage in the lifecycle means different features are required. Besides, companies often have various projects, and specific features might vary from a project to another. If we take it even one step further, each project can be at a different stage of its own lifecycle, which also impacts the requirements.
4) Does the CSR software enhance your decision-making process?
We have identified software that is specialized for your industry, ensured that it is user friendly and intuitive, and know it will adapt for each of your projects, now we need to know the actual features of the software. Does it simply store collected data? Well then a hard drive might do just as well. If you collect all this data, it must be of some use to your company.
- How does the software help you manage this data?
- Does this facilitate your operations and follow-up on commitments?
- Does it help you track and monitor important issues?
- Does it allow corporate reporting?
Such questions help you understand your needs and the type of features you need in a sustainability data management system.
5) Does the CSR software also include a strong team and services to support you?
The final elements to take into account when choosing CSR software are the team and services that are combined with the product. You would not jump out of an airplane with a parachute without someone first explaining you 1-how to open it and 2-how to control it. The same applies to software. For a data management system to be effective, users must know its purpose and how to use it. Combining CSR software with services ensures that the product is used properly and that you get the best possible results. Furthermore, the team behind the product must know its business field (including business processes!); otherwise the help provided will not be resourceful.
Using these five tips, you should be able to determine your needs when it comes to choosing CSR software and solutions.