Find Your Perfect Match in Sustainability Software

Amy Hou  |  July 11, 2019   |  Energy & Sustainability  

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Businesses across the globe recognize that they’ll be hard pressed to tackle the climate crisis without some help. That’s part of the reason that global demand for sustainability software continues to skyrocket, estimated to generate $1.7 billion in revenue through 2024. All this growth, however, means that sustainability professionals have more options than ever to choose from. 

How does one narrow the field to land on the right sustainability software for them? Unlike dating (or perhaps exactly like dating), it’s not as easy as piloting several software options before committing to one: getting started with a new software takes time and effort. So before taking that step, it’s important to identify exactly what you’re looking for and the frontrunners that can get you there. 

Ideal traits of sustainability software

First, start with the most important things you need from your sustainability software. They might vary based on the size, industry, and locale of your business, but a few key features should be deal breakers: if they’re not offered, the software isn’t up to scratch. 

One key feature is coverage. If the sites you manage and report on are all located in California, for instance, you can settle for a software or service that only has strong coverage on the West Coast. If, on the other hand, your portfolio stretches across various countries or continents, the reporting software that you work with needs to be able to acquire energy, water, and emissions data across the globe. 

In addition to geographic reach, sustainability software should also deliver high standards of data accuracy. Fancy tools and interfaces don’t make up for errors or inconsistencies in data, especially when the integrity of your reporting depends on it. While it’s difficult to test for accuracy without trying the system out first, you can check to see whether the software has thorough audits in place, as well as whether it’s getting data automatically or manually (the latter being prone to human error). 

Fancy tools and interfaces don’t make up for errors in data, especially when the integrity of your reporting depends on it. 

We’ve covered the inputs; now, let’s talk about the outputs. Almost every software will advertise itself as “advanced” when it comes to reporting and visualization tools, but it’s more important that it offers customizable reporting. You should be able to adjust the reports you create for factors like weather, seasonality, and usage per capita. Whatever is relevant for you to track, the right software will accommodate for it. 

On top of the must-haves, there are a few nice-to-haves that you can look for as well. Robust customer support could come in handy to keep things running smoothly. Do you need to input data into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager? Or build compliant reports for GRI, TCFD, or GRESB? Add third-party integration to your checklist so that you’re prepared to ask about it. 

Red flags

If the sustainability software you’re looking at has all of the features you need, you can be fairly confident that it will deliver. But before you fully commit to a long-term relationship, look out for the warning signs that could lead to an unworthy investment. 

Gain a thorough understanding of how the process works from end to end. If the system hasn’t incorporated automation into its data collection process, that means you’ll have to spend your own time manually entering data points on a monthly basis. You deserve better than an inefficient, time-consuming partner – find a software that will lift you up, not drag you down. 

Another major red flag is a lack of security. If the software provider you’re talking to can’t transparently share what it will do with your data, or how it’s protecting it, then it’s time to abandon ship. There are too many data breaches these days to trust your valuable assets with a cagey provider. 

Playing the field

Now that you know what to look for – and what to avoid – the last step is to evaluate your options. The field can seem overwhelming, but you can start to look for leaders in published market reports, web research, or by asking your peers and contacts for referrals. 

There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but you shouldn’t waste your time on anything but the best. At Urjanet, we’re experts in data collection and automation. If you’re looking for more guidance around managing your data or choosing the right software, talk to one of our experts today. 

 

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About Amy Hou

Amy Hou is a Marketing Manager at Urjanet, overseeing content and communications. She enjoys writing about the latest industry updates in sustainability, energy efficiency, and data innovation.


Tags   Dashboards   |   Software   |   Sustainability   |   Sustainability Reporting   |   Urjanet   |