We continue our discussion of Enterprise Carbon Accounting (ECA) software (we'll return to energy management in mid-October). Many companies have shared with us lessons they learned about selection and implementation. This is especially true for sustainability teams who may be involved with their first implementation of enterprise-wide software involving dozens of internal users.
Here are lessons from a $5B global, life sciences company that implemented ECA software:
- There will never be one system that will perfectly meet all your needs. We found that even though we viewed so many systems and we chose the one that best fits our needs, it is never going to do all the things we would like it to do.
- Configuration takes time. Uploading legacy data, configuring conversion factors/emissions factors, training, etc. all require time. Once the system is configured, it takes time to review all of it to make sure it is correct. Are the reports correct? Does data entry that makes sense and is it user-friendly? Plus, the configuration is not always 100% intuitive -- there are things you need your vendor to support.
- Ensure you have a responsive support team from the vendor. It is good to have a vendor that is willing to work with you to eventually configure the system to meet all your future needs.
- Identify reporting needs and fully research reporting capabilities. This is something we should have done more during the demos when evaluating vendors.
- Get organized in advance, including organizational hierarchy and legacy data. Ensuring that you are organized and that your legacy data is clean takes time. Getting these items readied -- even before you sign the contract -- will help in making this a smooth transition. Decide on your organizational hierarchy, such as tracking on a global vs. regional vs. country basis or campus vs. building, very early in the implementation process.
- Confirm that you have dedicated internal support administrators. We have three people essentially working on this as administrators, meaning they have full control of every aspect of the system. However, this is not anyone's full-time job and, given deadlines, we had to request more assistance from the ECA vendor to configure the software.
- Maintain communication with and buy-in from internal stakeholders. Moving toward any new software is a culture change, so be sure you make your staff aware of the transition.
Awareness of these and other lessons enables better planning and reduces implementation risk and cost overruns. For readers who have already implemented ECA software, what are your top lessons?