Software special: Software reviews

8th October 2013


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  • Reporting ,
  • Auditing ,
  • Management

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IEMA

Five GHG accounting software solutions are put through their paces by IEMA members

Best Foot Forward

Best Foot Forward (BFF) has been developing environment software since 1997 and supports clients to “future-proof” their businesses and brands. BFF has helped Tesco to footprint its entire supply chain, for example. BFF’s carbon reporting software, Footprint Reporter, has more than 3,000 users and is designed to make it easy to effectively report GHG emissions, including for mandatory carbon reporting and the voluntary CDP. It has a simple, user-friendly interface, which makes it ideal for first time reporters. At the same time, it offers limitless options for integration and customisation. BFF also partners with the Carbon Neutral Company to makes it easy for clients to offset their emissions.

+44 (0)1865 250 818

The verdict:

Simple to use and relatively straightforward to set up it could be easily used by any personnel after a simple demonstration and trial session. It produces standard reports for carbon reporting and supports customisable dashboards. Different user privileges can be set up depending on customer requirements. It is aimed mainly at small and medium-sized enterprises, which is reflected in the price. The software breaks down datasets and avoids using technical language – such as “scope 1, 2 or 3”. It does not, however, support the uploading of attachments, such as energy invoices, and lacks the ability to identify input errors – one of the major benefits of carbon software. It also lacks the comprehensive audit trail expected from GHG reporting software.

Reviewers' comments:

“A step up from a spreadsheet and appropriate for those who will upload data once a year and require minimal reporting.”

“It is relatively straightforward to

use. The system is presented in a clear format and navigation seems very simple, with things being where you would expect them to be.”

“The software offers the basics, allowing data to be input and calculated using an emission factor.”


CRedit360

CRedit360 has 10 years’ experience of meeting sustainability challenges. Its sustainability performance management system has 120 clients and 68,000 users across the world. CRedit360 is CDP accredited and GRI certified. Its system is a managed, web-based data management solution, meaning that CRedit360 hosts and maintains the software, and clients access it via a web browser. CRedit360 offers a modular system covering all sustainability issues, including energy and carbon, corporate social responsibility, environment, health and safety, compliance and supply chain management. Clients can expand the system over the long term to have a single integrated sustainability platform.

+44 (0)1223 237 200

The verdict:

This system is targeted at large corporations and for full sustainability reporting, as well as GHG reporting. It has all the necessary functions, including a tolerance function that highlights anomalies or incorrect data, and property management systems can be uploaded to the program. Attachments can be imported, and data and calculations are exportable. Conversion factors are regularly maintained. The software lends itself well to data analysis and provides a variety of comprehensive graphics. It also contains modules on supply chain, health and safety and compliance, so it’s good for companies wanting to expand reporting to other areas of sustainability. Initial setup appears complicated; however, implementation costs include training.

Reviewers’ comments:

“This system caters for companies looking to comprehensively report on sustainability – and for those with dedicated personnel to make full use of the software.”

“Looks complex to use, but it would still be a good contender and may be a better fit for some firms, especially with the additional modules available.”

“For a company seeking an integrated approach to reporting, this is certainly a more suitable system than some others.”


Ecometrica

Ecometrica aims to help businesses meet their sustainability challenges, reduce costs and increase overall performance. Its Our Impacts platform is the most widely used sustainability management software service in the world, with more than 250 clients. It supports organisations in measuring their environmental impacts, from carbon, energy, paper, waste and water management through to full supply chain accounting. Accredited by the CDP, Our Impacts is the only sustainability management software that has independently assured (by PwC) audit-ready outputs, eliminating clients’ pre-audit costs and potentially returning on investment within a year.

+44 (0)207 268 3033

The verdict:

Our Impacts is simple to use and has a high level functionality. It is ideal for multisite organisations requiring robust, fully auditable reporting of its emissions. The solution’s central tenet is audit readiness, so it scores very highly on quality assurance. It prevents users proceeding to the next stage if it detects an error – flagging where data is missing or duplicated – and Ecometrica experts then verify all data. Data can be uploaded automatically from half-hourly meters or spreadsheets, for example, and attachments can be uploaded, providing a good audit trail. There are also lots of help screens available to aid users. The program mirrors financial reporting tools, so it may not appeal to sustainability professionals unfamiliar with such frameworks.

Reviewers’ comments:

“Overall, I like the way this software is laid out, and I think the focus on quality assurance is what I look for in any type of data software.”

“Ecometrica takes care of a lot of setup and ensures the robustness of the process and reports. It feels like a complete package.”

“This software is ideal for companies with multiple sites who require robust, comprehensive, fully auditable reports.”


Greenstone

Greenstone recognises that non-financial reporting can present strategic and practical challenges, so it aims to make the process easier and clearer for its clients. Its enterprise-level software is easy to use and covers environment, health and safety, CSR frameworks and supply chains. The environment module enables clients to upload data from a wide range of business activities covering energy, waste, water, travel, freight and supply chains. The data is processed automatically to calculate the associated GHG emissions using various national and international frameworks. Greenstone supports clients of varying levels of size and complexity across 94 countries.

+44 (0)20 3031 4000

The verdict:

This system is suitable for different sized organisations and is relatively simple to use. It has been designed to work equally well with tablets and phones, so it’s good for mobile data entry. Data can be imported manually or directly from equipment, such as half-hourly meters. Thresholds for data error are included, together with quality indicators allowing you to say if data are estimated. A full audit log is available to export, alongside standard dashboards and reports, and the system also supports customisation. Pages can be “pinned” to the homepage to simplify navigation for those using only certain domains. Greenstone also provides other modules, such as safety and health. The system’s Windows 8 design may not appeal to all users.

Reviewers’ comments:

“For those looking for a comprehensive piece of software with all the essential functions and a smart user interface – this is it.”

“Easy to use and has good functionality. It has a nice traffic light system to illustrate performance in meeting carbon targets.”

“The combination of interface, functionality, customer service and price makes this a whole-round package. This one impressed me most.”


PE International

PE International has more than 20 years of expertise in providing sustainability performance solutions. PE offers a blend of corporate and product sustainability software, and says its software – GaBi (for product sustainability and life-cycle assessments) and SoFi (for corporate and supply chain sustainability) – mean it is the only company to offer a solution for all sustainability needs. SoFi enables companies to quickly aggregate, validate and analyse sustainability information for fast, accurate sustainability reporting and improvement. PE says nine out of the 10 top “green brands” use the company’s solutions, with major companies across 20 sectors using the SoFi software worldwide.

+44 (0)773 964 3226

The verdict:

The ongoing price of this software makes it accessible to smaller organisations. Data entry is straightforward and is available through a manual or bulk upload process or via meter outputs, including building management systems. Plausibility checks are carried out when data are entered, with tolerances varied based on the method of upload, for example. Attachments can be uploaded and the previous year’s data viewed while entering new figures. The system can generate customised dashboards and reports, and has the ability to drill down to more granular data. An additional module enables users to model the impact potential technological changes will have on emissions using data from a “best practice” database. The installation and training fee adds to initial cost.

Reviewers’ comments:

“An impressive solution and certainly contains most of the features you would expect to see when upgrading from a system of spreadsheets.”

“Has some really nice add-on features, including a performance modelling capability, which can help identify suitable targets and then put together a tailored plan of action.”

“The dashboards and reports are almost infinitely customisable.”


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