3 steps to greater data confidence

High-quality data is the foundation of social value. It’s how you’ll determine where time and resources should go, which suppliers are the best fit for an upcoming contract, or visualise how initiatives are performing.

At every stage, there are opportunities for data to lose value, pick up errors, or get lost altogether. Different teams will have their own methods and practices. And these discrepancies could prove detrimental to the success of your projects. A recent survey found that 75% of CPOs doubt the accuracy of the data they present. Not good if you’re trying to guarantee maximum social benefit from a contract or project. It’s a very real, very prevalent problem – in procurement and beyond.

The quality of your data directly links to the quality of your decisions. Up-to-date, reliable data allows for a fuller understanding of your efforts and performance. It enables you to make strategic decisions that bring you closer to your desired outcomes. And it provides peace of mind at every stage that you’re moving in the right direction. 

With new reporting standards coming, increased public scrutiny, and higher expectations on you as a business, the question is can you really afford to overlook its quality?

Here are the three steps to improving your data confidence and strengthening your social value along the way. 

Step 1: Create a data policy

Step one is to set the standard for data management across your organisation. As well as with any suppliers or external parties who might capture it for you or come into contact with it at a later stage. No matter who’s dealing with it, you want everyone following the same processes and rules.

Take the time to identify what your data processes and expectations are. From here, create a cheat sheet for anyone who might interact with it.

Every individual, team, and department will have varying experience and knowledge. Different departments might have unique quality standards and management methods. This becomes even more likely when you’re talking about external suppliers or partners.

It’s about identifying what you want and need from your data, and making sure everyone is on the same page. Define which individuals or teams are responsible for what. How long can data stay on the system before it’s considered out of date? How often do you want suppliers to log their emissions? What process should staff follow when logging it remotely? Where do you want it logged to? And in what format? In cases where there’s data you don’t have full control over – for example, from third parties – how will this be used to mitigate risk of inaccuracies? 

It might feel rudimentary. But clearly laying out your expectations will empower all members of staff to understand and execute their data capture and management to a higher standard.

Step 2: Eliminate silos

It’s impossible to make effective decisions about future or ongoing projects if you haven’t got the full picture in front of you. But this is what happens in large organisations with complex social value processes. Data can end up siloed off in different departments, teams, or physical locations.

Eliminate silos by centralising all social value data into one platform. This way, you can build up a full understanding of progress. Staff can save time hunting down the information they need to do their jobs effectively.

To make the best use of it, you want it to be easily accessible. Even if they aren’t responsible for doing anything with it, having it accessible by staff will empower them to keep making a difference. Keeping it simple on a single platform will also make it easier for suppliers to engage with your processes.

Step 3: Embrace digitalisation

Building on this last point, embracing digitalisation is a key way to streamline and simplify your social value data. If everything is in one place and easily accessible, no matter where you are, it becomes much easier to make valuable, informed decisions.

Technology has the potential to completely transform your social value process and significantly improve the quality, usability, and organisation of your data.

Tools that help you automate its capture, streamline reporting, improve sharing and collaboration, and keep constant visualisation of your targets and progress will all prove invaluable. They’ll save you and your staff time, remove the risk of human error, and allow you to focus on making a tangible difference.

To make the best decisions about your projects and impact, you need up-to-date, reliable, and consistent data. But not all data is made equal. It’ll take a conscious effort and investment to level-up your practices and maintain full confidence in its accuracy and usability.

About Impact Reporting

At Impact, we simplify and streamline all your social value, ESG, and sustainability reporting requirements. Putting all your data capture, analysis, and reporting on autopilot, we remove all of the tedious admin, guesswork, and human error, meaning you can visualise your progress with complete confidence. To find out more, schedule a demo or get in touch with the team on 0161 532 4752.