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6 software solutions you need as a Sustainability Manager

April 28, 2022
 min read

With the growing realization among the world’s corporations that they too share responsibility for climate change and deteriorating ecosystems, many are now working to be part of the solution.

Climate action is on the agenda in boardrooms, and bold goals for impact and tracking it are set. Many companies are hiring their first sustainability manager and others are expanding their sustainability teams. In fact, the majority of people working with sustainability today did not do so 5 years ago.  


The awareness around the granularity of ‘jobs to be done’ in the sustainability field is increasing, and with it the scrapping of broad sustainability platforms. We don’t think that only one solution for HR is enough. Nor for finance, or for marketing. The same is now happening for sustainability.  


40+ software subscriptions  


In 2019, the average company of 50 or fewer employees had 40 different software subscriptions. Why this ‘mess’? To increase productivity! According to a Productiv report, 39% of employees that not having the right apps slows their productivity.  


All-in-one packages are comforting to buy. Just think about it: One platform solving all your ‘problems’? Sounds awesome!  


But in reality, the all-in-one-platforms that exist aren’t that awesome. Broad platforms that ‘solve everything’ are often popular in the early days of a software segment, but quickly lose ground to better, more specialized solutions.  


Sustainability software is no exception. Sharp focus on one challenge creates the best solution for that challenge. When also backed by loads of cash, which we’ve seen many sustainability software companies raise in the last years (Persefonis’ $100 million as an example), “swiss knife” sustainability platforms will necessarily be inferior to specialized solutions.  


That’s why your company’s HR manager isn’t using an all-in-one platform for payroll, recruiting, onboarding, etc – those platforms simply aren't good enough.  


Sustainability isn’t simple  


Sustainability isn’t simple either. If you're ambitious with your company’s sustainability initiatives and impact, and the way you’ll track and report them, you don’t want to go with second-tier solutions. If you want to maximize the productivity of your perhaps already overloaded sustainability manager, you don’t give them a “jack-of-all, master-of-none” solution.  


Rather than thinking all-in-one, you should think of integrations. Using several software tools becomes a problem if they work better with data from one another. That’s why software solutions in mature software segments, such as marketing, HR and sales, generally offer a range of integrations. As long as your tech stack acts like one, it doesn’t have to be one.  


The Sustainability Manager's jobs to be done  


So, what are the ‘jobs to be done’ for the average sustainability manager?  


Having researched the field and spoken to maybe a hundred sustainability managers in the last year, some categories of tasks (with some of the leading solutions) are clear:  


  1. Carbon accounting (and for some, offsetting) (e.g. Watershed, Sweep, Persefoni, Normative, Variable)
  2. ESG risk assessment (somewhat different solutions from e.g. Moody’s, Scalgo, ClimSystems, ClimateX)
  3. Supply chain assessment & management (e.g. EcoVadis, WorldFavor, Specright)
  4. Reporting (e.g. Workiva, Novisto)
  5. Sustainability scoring (Celsia (that’s us!), Greenomy, Envoria)
  6. HSE management (Cority, EHS Insight, VelocityEHS, Quentic, Diligent)



Base your sustainability 'software stack' on your needs  


Your company may not need to cover all categories, nor may it need software for them all. Consider your needs and plans across all categories when assessing your sustainability software needs. The larger and the more ambitious the company, the higher the likelihood you’ll need more software solutions.  


For many, a spreadsheet may do the job. For example, some companies may be able to administer their employees in a spreadsheet, or maybe even conduct their accounting in one. But, most companies won’t – the cost/benefit simply doesn't add up.  


Software also helps you get it right. If something is important to get right and you’re not entirely sure how to do it, software may be a good way to go.  


Get in touch!  


If you work with sustainability, I’m genuinely curious to hear what sustainability software solutions you’re using and what you think about them. DM me on LinkedIn or Twitter to get in touch.  


Good luck!  


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