ESG Virtual Conference Session Summary: Ensuring Future Ready ESG Software Implementations
Posted on December 15, 2023 | in ESG
An organization is future ready when it can anticipate and respond to emerging trends, advances in technology, and challenges. For EHS and ESG leaders looking to implement an ESG software solution, it’s important to consider future readiness during the process to ensure success. During the recent VelocityEHS ESG Virtual Conference, experts Daniel Sakrisson, Senior Vice President, and Shannon Wegesser, Associate Vice President from Velocity partner company WSP, shared insights on this topic. Read on to learn WSP’s perspectives on the key aspects of future readiness, strategies for software implementation, and common challenges and how to avoid them.
What Does It Mean to Be Future Ready?
To start off the session, Sakrisson describes the following six aspects as key components to future readiness and how the ESG software solution selected should be built upon using these six components.
- Resilient – Able to withstand and recover from unexpected disruptions
- Adaptable – Capable of integrating emerging technologies and have the flexibility to incorporate new tools and systems as they become available
- Innovative – Proactive in exploring new ideas
- Strategic – Develop long term strategies for future scenarios for agile decision making
- Improves – Acquire new skills and knowledge that will be valuable in evolving markets and industries
- Sustainable – Implement friendly solutions to address future environmental concerns
The Steps to Transformation
Sakirsson also explains that to become future ready, an organization will likely need to transform. He breaks down the transformation journey into these five steps:
- Determine vision: Where does the company want to go?
- Develop strategy: Where is the company at?
- Plan: How does the company get there?
- Implement: Creating the solution
- Deploy: Putting it into use
Strategies for ESG Software Implementation
Next, Wegesser discusses different strategies companies can use when implementing ESG software, which WSP groups into the following:
The Big Bang strategy is an “everything at once” approach that allows end users to set time aside for key activities and have the authority to make decisions for their programs.
The Phased strategy is a “piece-by-piece” approach that allows the organization implementing the software, its team, and its partners to focus on one area or deliverable at a time.
The Pilot strategy is a “test the waters first” approach that allows end users to refine their internal process before involving a larger piece of the organization.
The Iterative strategy is an “enhance over time” approach. This is a slower approach that allows each department to be heard in order to find mutual agreement with the purpose of driving towards organizational alignment over time.
Methodologies for ESG Software Implementation
In addition to outlining different implementation strategies, Wegesser covers the four most common methodologies WSP sees utilized with customers’ ESG software implementations. She emphasizes that it’s critical to do proper research before choosing a methodology and to be honest about what your organization will be able to adapt to. For example, it’s easy to visualize a perfect waterfall approach. However, does the company have the required staff, enough support, and the necessary resources to consistently meet all the criteria through the entire project? These are the types of questions an organization should be asking itself when considering the different methodologies summarized below.
The Waterfall methodology is a linear series of phases approach that focuses one iteration at a time, allowing each phase to be completed before moving on to the next. It is designed for discovery, design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance.
The Agile methodology involves breaking the project into smaller and more management iterations.
The Hybrid methodology is an option in the middle of Agile and Waterfall. Aspects of the Waterfall methodology could be used for initial planning and requirement, while aspects of the Agile methodology could be applied for building and testing.
The Scrum methodology is essentially an Agile methodology with fixed-length iterations. In other words, much like an Agile methodology, the Scrum methodology is broken down into manageable chunks called “sprints” for more focus on a specific project.
Common ESG Implementation Challenges and How to Avoid Them:
After a company chooses the right strategy and methodology for its ESG software implementation, WSP explains that it’s inevitable the company will face a few challenges along the journey. Below are five of the nine common implementation challenges Wegesser shares in the session along with WSP’s recommendations for overcoming them.
1. People are not available for the project. Given the subject matter expertise that is required for these deliveries, this can create delays or conflicts within the project. The best way to approach this challenge is to:
- Create a resourcing plan to identify key personnel for each step
- Book them ahead of time and track availability in routine project updates
- Ensure project status communication that includes upcoming availability
2. Requirements keep changing. Requirements could be changing due to regulations, acquisitions, or even new stakeholders. The best way to approach this challenge is to:
- Do a discovery project first to gather requirements
- Decide early if the project will be used to consolidate requirements in parallel to the build phase vs. gathering before starting the implementation
- Add a contingency fund
3. Data Quality. All quantitative data must be high grade quality data. The best way to approach this challenge is to:
- Make data quality review a part of the discovery and design phases
- Utilize templates with data integrity checks built in
- Define a process prior during design for dealing with non-conforming data and project impact / actions
4. Reports are not accounted for. At the end of the project, many organizations are unable to give their reports to their stakeholders. The best way to approach this challenge is to:
- Reverse engineer the build; design the system with the data output format in mind
- Have a separate “Reporting” task identified in the project schedule
5. No improvements are made after implementing. The best way to approach this challenge is to:
- Have a defined annual health check process
- Build post go-live support budgets
Markers of Success
How does a company know if it was successful with ensuring its ESG software is future ready? WSP shared some of the key markers of success, including:
- People actually use the software
- People feel empowered by the software
- People know how to use the software
- Reports and data are easily generated/found
- System notifications are just right
- Assigned actions get completed
- Processes are enforced and followed
- People can focus on analyzing the data instead of just collecting it
- Change management is an ongoing and clear process
Want to learn more? Click here to access an on-demand recording of the session.
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