7 Essentials of a Sustainability Reporting Platform

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Sustainable Development’s meaning is often described in wordy academic terms. It’s actually a very simple concept. It’s about impact. It’s about looking at an organisation’s performance not just in terms of financial value to the economy but in terms of how it impacts everything around. The environment, people and the broader community.

So, if Sustainable Development is all about an organisation’s impact then a good reporting system needs to be able to collect, measure and assess data for virtually any facet of an organisation’s operations.

iSystain’s design philosophy is grounded in a holistic and integrated approach to sustainable development. To us every facet of an organisation’s management system is vitally important to the overall sustainability of an organisation and its improvement processes over time.

Having a comprehensive warehouse of data is the fundamental principle of an effective platform. The more comprehensive this data set is, the easier it will be to measure performance and drive business improvement. This is where business intelligence (BI) comes into play. Visualising data through graphs, maps, grids and targets invariably highlights concerns or areas of performance requiring improvement.


A sustainability reporting platform needs to be agile when it comes to acquiring new data sources. The ability to push and pull data from other data collection sources is important. The breadth of scope and ability to integrate with other systems is one of the things that put iSystain in the top quadrant for both functionality and integration in our early years, as reflected in the 2014 KPMG study on Sustainability Reporting Systems[i].

Over the last decade we have witnessed the data collection needs of most organisations growing exponentially due to the increased need to gather micro data to support their sustainable development reporting needs. Organisations have or are outgrowing the traditional spreadsheet method for managing and reporting on data such as energy, water, waste, incidents, community investment due to:

  • Data volume and formulation integrity, including systems and human error, computer performance and data security;

  • Inability to link with outside data;

  • Limited audit trail, workflow, action and initiative tracking tools;

  • Knowing what to gather, analyse, interpret and take strategic advantage of;

Traditionally organisations seek solutions from outside experts, at a significant cost, to address these issues. They then need to invest further time in taking productive advantage of findings. Yet, this micro data can be invaluable in formulating a sustainable development plan that is both wide-reaching and deeply effective.

Through using an online software service such as iSystain, this inconvenience and inefficiency can be eliminated. This agile, cloud-based system is capable of:

  • Collecting and aggregating virtually any data point from any source;

  • Identifying trends and patterns that can increase risk, impact, cost and time efficiency across an organisation;

iSystain inherently provides graphs and visualisers for easy interpretation of data with little specialised training. This eliminates the need for outside data analysts, putting information in the hands of those who can benefit most, and translate it into productivity outcomes. 

We’ve identified 7 essential functions to look for when selecting a sustainability reporting system:

  1. Flexible methods to collect and contextualise data for any data point;

  2. Business Intelligence capabilities. The ability to delve into granular data by aggregating, sorting, grouping, slicing and dicing collected data for reporting and analysis;

  3. In-built agility and configurability to respond to the dynamic nature of regulation and innovation in this space;

  4. Strong integration capabilities to interact with other systems bi-bidirectionally;

  5. Cloud capability, to maximise cost effectiveness and accessibility;

  6. Initiative and target setting features linked to performance monitoring tools is vital to organisational improvement;

  7. Alerts, workflow and action management functions to automate data integrity and completeness prompts and to drive improvement;

[i] http://www.kpmg.com/nl/en/issues-and-insights/articlespublications/pages/sustainability-reporting-systems.aspx

Don Smy