Sustainability software - Service or a Product (3 of 3)

All the Sustainability software that is available in the market was developed a decade earlier or technology that is a a decade old and approach that is outdated. This criticism of technology and approach also applies for some of the recently developed software. The disadvantages of outdated technology and approach is that firstly it is a product you buy; that means the onus of performance rests on the user, i-e If a customer complains that the software product is not serving its purpose the answer from the seller will be “Hey! Your need has changed” and this response is most likely true. This also means that the first thing one needs to consider is the state of “Change” or “Evolution”. 

Decision makers at organisations that are looking to implement sustainability software never ask questions about the technology behind the product but are fairly detailed with questions around approach as it effects the time and effort of various internal employees. This overall method of decision making is born with a fault as the questions of approach must not solely be considered from the point of time available but form the point of view of solving the evolving/ changing challenge. Generally speaking technology and approach are not separate activities anymore they are a coupled whole, even so for challenges around choosing sustainability software. Combining the past experiences of a software product purchase with the ever-changing landscape in technology will result in a sound decision.

The 3 important factors to keep in mind are:

  1. Technology is around 30% to 50% cheaper and that means the cost of the product must be cheap;
  2. “Agile” way of implementing combines approach and technology effectively;
  3. Implementation time is reduce to upto 50% and in some cases more;
  4. The above three points alters the scope from a product to a service.

Some important questions to ask are:

  1. What are the various modules in the software; focus on the ones that are relevant.
  2. If there is customisation required, how easy is it implement” focus on the effort, disruption caused internally and cost.
  3. Flexibility in reporting; If in case the software has to respond and increase the number of data points as per the next GRI guidelines or if the declaration points increase. For Ex: In the instance the government decides to increase the PAT regime to all the sectors the software has to change yet again. This is imminent as per the draft agreement at COP21.
  4. How will it integrate carbon pricing; A large steel manufacturer recently had asked his CFO to make 2 changes. A) to make all decisions by viewing through the carbon pricing lens from 2016 B) to make a separate balance sheet every year with carbon pricing involved. If this has to be programmed then what is the kind of effort involved?. When this customer spoke with SOFI the software that is presently implemented in the organisation the response was “we will develop it for an additional cost”
  5. Integration to social media; The output of the software must be social media friendly as the information will be useful for building the “Responsible” attribute and the most likely tweeters and broadcasters are the CXOs.