CA Technologies Energy & Sustainability Perspectives Blog: The Sustainability PMO is the Sweet Spot for Management Software

Sep 13, 2010 4:30 PM ET

By Sonny Masero, VP of CA ecoSoftware

It is a popular view that ERP systems are a good starting point for a CSR management system, see Bill Leedale’s recent article on There is a logical argument to this view, at least in terms of environmental governance, but I’m not sure it reflects the reality of the majority of corporate sustainability teams who are working to improve environmental and social governance within their firms. This view can be challenged further when you include the management of social impacts, which can be more qualitative in nature.

Most large companies, like CA Technologies, Fujitsu and Siemens, now have a Head of Sustainability/CSR with a Programme Management Office (PMO) containing a small team and limited resources. The success of this PMO is often down to the Executive sponsorship they receive and their ability to leverage performance improvements through the core business units.

For these sustainability teams to baseline their existing performance they usually have to pull data from a range of fragmented sources and it is very rare that the information resides in one database. In many cases new environmental and social performance metrics have to be created from scratch, which is why it can be difficult for a sustainability team to demonstrate a ROI because often the negative impact has not been measured historically. An existing ERP may contain some of this data, but it is unlikely that a legacy system has been installed with sustainability as a defining principle.

An enterprise management solution that has a Portfolio & Programme Management (PPM) platform can approach this PMO challenge from a different perspective. It can integrate with a variety of existing databases, including various ERP systems, to meet those initial performance baselining requirements. Most importantly though it provides the PMO will a solution that can driver performance improvement in the future and that is where the corporate sustainability game is at. Not just reporting, but out-performing.

The dynamic and flexible functionality that a Sustainability PPM solution provides a Sustainability PMO is a game changer. It allows the Sustainability PMO to see financial, environmental and social performance data for a portfolio of initiatives across different geographies and business units. This can be used to ensure that those limited resources are being well spent and to build internal momentum. By having more frequent updates on the impact of sustainability initiatives means that the Sustainability PMO does not have to wait for the annual year end dash to produce the Sustainability Report to see whether there has been an improvement on the previous year. Executive sustainability dashboards enable higher performing teams and will help avoid wasted investment in misguided initiatives.

The global corporate sustainability leaders have already recognized that the level of competition is rising so they have already started to improve their game through the use of enterprise IT within their Sustainability PMOs. The question for the Head of Sustainability/CSR is do you just want to look back at historical data or are you looking to deliver positive and meaningful change in the future.