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How to choose the right tools for climate calculation – Navigating the digital landscape

In a time of growing concern over climate change, companies and organisations around the world recognize the need for accurate, comprehensive, and reliable climate reporting. This task can be complex and time-consuming, but with the right software solution, it becomes much more manageable. In this text, we will explore some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a software solution for climate reporting and analysis.

(It's somewhat like choosing a web browser... there are too many to choose from! Image borrowed from:

1. Assessing your needs

Before diving into software options, it’s important to assess your organisation’s specific requirements for climate reporting. Consider the scope and complexity of the data you need to collect, analyse and report. Also, think about the specific reporting frameworks or regulations you must adhere to, as these can influence the features needed in your software solution.

Should the organisation's total footprint be summarised, or are there specific products of interest?

Do you follow the GHG Protocol or are there other frameworks governing, for example, climate goals according to Science Based Targets (SBT)?

2. Data collection and integration

Climate reporting involves collecting data from various sources, such as energy consumption, transportation, purchased goods, services (suppliers) and so on. Therefore, the solution must integrate seamlessly with multiple systems, databases and data sources. An efficient software platform should also be able to automatically aggregate, validate and analyse large amounts of data, saving time and frustration. 

As the number of different systems on the market grows, new solutions also emerge to assist in data integration. Among the latest solutions, for example, is Microsoft Sustainability Manager, which initially builds on automated data collection across all existing Microsoft solutions and other databases as well. 

Thoroughly stress-test the software! Many solutions promise automatic transfers, APIs and integrations, but often the question is how far the commitment goes. Do you still need to prepare the data manually before it can be imported?

3. Customisable reports and dashboards

Intuitive and customisable dashboards for analysing results allow you to present key climate metrics and indicators effectively. The ability to create visually appealing and interactive reports enhances engagement for users and stakeholders; and simplifies complex data for better understanding. Look for a solution that lets you generate comprehensive, visually rich reports that also show progress over time.

Analysing data is increasingly important, but keep in mind what you're really looking for.

Many software programs have visually appealing layouts but still may not meet the expectations you're looking for.

4. Data accuracy and quality assurance

To ensure the integrity of your climate reporting, software solutions should include robust mechanisms for data validation. The ability to perform extensive quality controls on data helps to identify inconsistencies, errors, and deviations so that you can quickly address problems and maintain credibility. Choosing programs that cannot offer transparency is a risk, especially as climate reporting becomes subject to auditing under CSRD.

A nice exterior doesn't guarantee a good interior; make sure the engine in the program delivers what you need in terms of transparent calculations, clear assumptions, correct and relevant emission factors, and that you can easily understand what happens when your data goes through the system.

It's you who should own the content and be able to answer all conceivable questions about the figures.

5. Scalability and flexibility

As the demand for climate reporting evolves, your software solution should be adaptable to new reporting standards and frameworks. By choosing a solution that is scalable and flexible, you ensure that it can respond to future changes in reporting needs, reducing the likelihood of costly software changes or manual workarounds.

Some programs are expensive and burdensome to change the structure, so keep that in mind, especially if you're a rapidly growing company.

6. Expert support and training

Even with a user-friendly software solution, continuous support and training are crucial for effectively utilising its full potential. Look for providers that can offer the training and support that you specifically need. Ensuring that your team is equipped with the necessary knowledge and assistance will result in a smoother process and optimised use of the software.

It's not uncommon for system support to developed by skilled programmers and technicians.

Ensure that you have access to the right support in terms of both technology and expertise.

Several new platforms sell licenses in collaboration with expert consultants.

In summary 

Choosing a software solution for climate reporting requires careful consideration of your organisation’s specific needs. Keep in mind scalability and transparency, as well as the type of precision that the tool offers. By combining efficient (and even automated) data collection with relevant emission factors and data validation, you can improve the accuracy of your calculations. 

Remember that choosing the right software solution not only simplifies the reporting process but also improves understanding of your organisation’s climate impact, which ultimately helps you to make well-informed decisions to reduce emissions and find new business opportunities.

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