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Author's profile photo Former Member

When do you need a system for sustainability?

My colleagues and I have almost daily conversations on a key topic: what should be the scope of a system, and what instead should be left to pen-and-pencil (or even Excel-based) methods?

Here is our train of thought – would love to hear your views on it!


Systems often do not compete with other systems vendors, and instead the jostle with:

a) people walking around with cookbooks (e.g. “the top 10 things to ensure your plant is safe”)

b) people with spreadsheets doing 80/20 jobs once a year (e.g. collecting all “high-absence” employees IDs and comparing them with the healthiness of the buildings they are in, to determine if there is a case for buildings refurbishment)

c) pure training and behavior change initiatives (e.g. “what you gotta to do to save energy).


To recap – what we think being the watershed for system-based management as opposed to the above methods:

  • 1. Systems have the Ability to have proper comparability year on year (fair KPIs) and monitor progress
  • 2. Systems have the ability to correlate “energy behavior” to different conditions over time (eg product mix, weather, overall production load etc) and therefore forecast cost impact in different scenarios.
  • 3. Point 2 also helps understand what the drivers of reduction can be (ie you can isolate the effect of specific factors over time), and also identify involuntary deviations (that is, things that are not influenced by men – so that you avoid penalizing managers who did their job but whose performance got obscured by the impact of specific factors e.g. different product demand, weather etc)

This applies to a number of situations – from energy and carbon, to environmental health and safety, to supply chain, to product management, to human resources.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      The system will be effective and economical for routine things like metric,monitoring etc.Work flow is huge time and cost saving add on.
      For non routine things which involve human judgement such as identifying the risks,qualitative analysis,organizational maturity -the system cant do these things.Manual involvement is a must here.
      opinion Survey and self assessment are other areas in which manual involvement is imminent.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Thanks Ramesh - much appreciated. The other topic is really auditability - even processes that happen sporadically need to be logged in those cases.
      Author's profile photo Girish M
      Girish M
      Systems for sustainability reporting will bring accountability to the entire exercise, and will make it easy for companies to report their carbon/water footprint. Adhoc spreadsheet based reporting was quite okay to start with. But I believe that Carbon Accounting will have to be made mandatory in the future and just like Financial accounting will have to have drill-down functionality (right up to the product level) and of course auditing and reporting capabilities. The debate, I feel, should more be on when and how to implement systems for sustainability, rather than do we need one or not!