Putting sustainability measures in place can pay off if companies take a disciplined, data-based approach, experts say.
That means analyzing data in a systematic way, and being methodical about prioritizing projects. Such an approach can expose deeper potential cost savings and revenue generation opportunities, according to a panel of experts experienced with helping companies link sustainability more explicitly to financial results.
"Environmental actions yield business performance improvements," noted Mike Nicholus, director of the Global Environment Program at Accenture, during this week's GreenBiz Webinar, "Leveraging Sustainability to Drive Efficiency and ROI."
The common refrain during the Webcast was one that will surprise few sustainability managers: the most effective enterprise-wide sustainability programs use decision-making tools that go beyond disjointed spreadsheets to help guide strategy. Too many companies continue to manage this data in a vacuum, they said.
"Sustainability performance touches all aspects of your business," said Mark Serwinowski, CEO and founder of MetaVu, a sustainable business advisory firm.
These tools must integrate data inputs that reach across a company's enterprise resource planning data, financial planning databases and other operational information resources, said Julien Picaud, Product Manager for Enablon, which develops sustainability performance software.
Technology can help provide better structure around decisions by enabling more specific baseline reporting, metrics analyses and scenario analyses, according to Picaud. It can also be used to explicitly document corporate targets and track specific projects, so information is shared internally; to offer up best practices templates, so different divisions can benefit from the mistakes and successes of other units; and to help select initiatives that should receive investments, based on their expected return.
Next page: Measurement, measurement, measurement