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Sustainable Development


Sustainable Development requires today’s tools.

Are you waiting to see what others are doing with regards sustainable development?

It is understandable that you may be holding back because it is a major and different sort of undertaking.  Questions like how it is managed, who would manage it, and how much is it going to cost spring to mind.

Help is at hand because the World Business Council (WBC) has made a giant leap forward by providing a methodology to address the many and complex issues.  The methodology has been named “Measuring Impact Framework” (MIF) and more details may be found on the WBC web site at

This is what the WBC say on their web site:

"In the spring of 2006, the WBCSD embarked on a two-year journey to develop a framework to assess the contribution of business to the economic and broader development goals in the societies where business operates.

"This grew out of a request by WBCSD member companies to develop a measurement framework that could underpin the license to operate, improve the quality of stakeholder engagement, help manage risks more effectively and identify ways to enhance the business contribution to society.

"The resulting Measuring Impact Framework is designed to help companies understand their contribution to society and use this understanding to inform their operational and long-term investment decisions and have better-informed conversations with stakeholders."

The methodology makes use of what is already out there (for example, the Global Reporting Initiative and IFC Performance Standards).

Incom Supports the WBCSD Effort

Incom supports the efforts of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in that we have configured existing risk management software as “INCOM IMPACT” which may be populated with:

  • Risks and opportunities listed in the MIF
  • Risks and opportunities identified by you or your consultants

Whereas most risk management software only looks at risks, this software has a two-dimensional spread, looking at risks (highlighted in red) and opportunities (highlighted in green).  To make it easy for you to move from the MIF methodology to the Incom software, the software uses the two key drivers used in the MIF:

  • Importance (importance to the organization)
  • Impact (the level of impact business activities have on others)

Approach adopted in the Framework

The following is a statement in the WBCSD methodology (MIMethodology.pdf).

“The Framework is based on a four-step methodology that attempts to merge the business perspectives of its contribution to development with the societal perspectives of what is important where that business operates. It is rooted in a business approach and begins with measuring what business does through its business activities. The business activities are grouped into four clusters:

1.   Governance & Sustainability (Corporate Governance and Environmental Management)
2.   Assets (Infrastructure and Products & Services)
3.   People (Jobs and Skills & Training)
4.   Financial Flows (Procurement and Taxes)”

Enterprise Risk Management

The Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) approach is to identify all risks before decisions are made: decisions that affect the environment, the well-being of employees and customers, and the reputation of the company.  This requires risks to be monitored dynamically as conditions change - rather than once only or annually.  That is more important today than ever before.

There are continuing changes to laws and regulations for workplaces, around corporate governance, environment and legal liability, and organisations must stay on top of these.

You might find it appropriate to have high level sustainability and strategic impact management software (e.g. INCOM IMPACT) and general operational risk management software (e.g. INCOM RISK).  The operational risk level would manage:

  • Employee Health and Safety
  • Critical Infrastructure Management
  • Contract and Legal Issues
  • Subcontract and Vendor Management
  • System and Technical Failure
  • Natural Hazards and Environmental Risks

Working with many companies in many industries, Incom has built up a risk dictionary containing hundreds of risk events categorized by risk type, and the assets or areas that may be at risk.  This dictionary also includes climate change risks and opportunities.

Going Forward

Now is not the time to hold back on sustainable development impact analysis or operational risk management.  In fact it is the time to ramp up these activities, especially when you consider climate change and carbon trading risk.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development provides a spreadsheet template that supports their methodology, but users have reported difficulty using the template even though it is an excellent spreadsheet.  The problems are inherent in spreadsheet software, and they are:

  • The more complex a spreadsheet, the more difficult it is to understand and use the spreadsheet
  • A spreadsheet is not multi-user, so people have to queue to use the template, and people have no easy way of knowing when it is available to use
  • A spreadsheet does not have role based security so anyone can change the formulas, delete rows of data and de-link information or delete whole pages of information
  • Spreadsheets are not relational databases, so it is extremely difficult to categorize information multiple ways, and unless you can do that, reporting will be limited
  • You can’t sort multi-level spreadsheets without de-linking the relationships, explaining why there is virtually no reporting capability in the spreadsheet except for page print.

For these reasons Incom offers INCOM IMPACT which is easy to learn and use, and it provides excellent reporting and charting.  Incom software is web-enabled accessible from Internet Explorer over the Internet or your private Intranet so people in dispersed locations may update the system at the same time.