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Using Social Business Tools to Increase Performance Management and Reporting in Sustainability Programs

Latest installment of my recent eBook series of articles on social media and social business practices supporting sustainability initiatives. In Part 1 of this article series, I introduced a framework for social media – including an information life cycle – used in sustainability programs.  In Part 2 of the series, I  address the strategic intent for reporting and green marketing of sustainability goals to outside audiences, what I call “Stage 1” activities.  In Part 3 of the series, I consider  the strategic messaging used to promote internal stakeholder adoption, what I call “Stage 3” activities.  In this installment – Part 4 of the series – I look at social business solutions available to report and monitor performance of sustainability programs, what is referred to as “Stage 3” activities of the information life cycle of sustainability programs.

A sustainability program, like any business initiative, is focused on the development of goals and objectives and tasks associated with achieving those goals and objectives.  The nature of triple bottom-line (3BL) activities creates both structure and duplicity in terms of measuring the performance of many of these goals and tasks.  Structure can be found in the regulatory nature of financial, environmental and social performance aspects of a sustainability program can be viewed prescriptively from a compliance context.  For example, certain greenhouse gas (GHG) targets are known and specific reduction goals suggest the end game.  However sustainability programs are susceptible to the duplicity nature of what to monitor and how to monitor key metrics which often times are not germane to the specific objectives of a program.  Strategic initiatives, such as creating green-inspired products and services, are also very difficult to measure in early start-up phases, as are many entrepreneurial activities.

Fortunately best practices and solutions have emerged which can lend themselves to the adequate tracking of the right metrics, at the right time, and in a proper manner so that accurate reporting against internally stated goals and objectives can occur.  Many of the large software platforms used in business – Microsoft, SAP and Oracle – maintain contextual databases of information which can be harvested, mined and represented.  In some cases these platforms also contain fully-capable performance management tools as well as social business platforms.  These can be integrated into project microsite environments, discussion board and messaging sites, with direct access to business intelligence (BI) and analytic capabilities.

The end result in many of these scenarios is scorecards and dashboards – renderings of metrics and measures at either the strategic or tactical levels, respectively. Scorecards and dashboards can be drilled into deep, contextual levels, to determine the underlying causes of why an organization is or is not meeting its sustainability targets.  For example, a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) can review scorecards and dashboards in the SAP performance management environment, and then notify specific project or department heads of an issue in one of the implementation projects – such as not meeting environmental health and safety goals – by integrated email.

Click here to read the complete article on Sustainable Business Forum.  The final article in the series I will consider how companies take performance management information of sustainability programs and promote this information outward into its internal supply chain, so-called “Stage 4” activities of the information life cycle.


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