ERP systems are the constants in the emerging digital ecosystems that complement the physical store floor with more and more software solutions of varying degrees of sophistication. They are the central repository of the most important data, know the entrepreneurial processes and perform important control and planning functions. From this position, ERP systems are virtually predestined to also take on completely new tasks that, for example, digitalization or sustainability requirements bring with them.
The reporting obligation (CSR Directive) stipulated by the EU, which affects both large and small and medium-sized listed companies, should be seen in this context. Decision-making bodies are currently saying that the restriction on capital market orientation could be dropped, which would again significantly expand the group of companies affected.
According to current plans, companies will have to collect data as early as 2023 in order to be able to prepare the first sustainability report, which must be available in 2024. An event held on April 20, 2022, highlighted one way of preparing for this task at an early stage. In addition, it became clear which tasks ERP systems take over in this process.
Using a concrete practical example, Nadine Michalske, CSO of Klima.Metrix GmbH, illustrated the calculation of a carbon footprint and explained how to arrive at the necessary content for the report based on ERP data. Data from both Scope 1, 2 and 3 are taken into account.
Scope 1 includes all direct emissions that come from the activities of an organization or its subsidiaries. Emission sources include such things as heating, cooling, and steam generation, company-owned vehicles, and air conditioning leakage. Scope 2 represents purchased emissions, i.e. indirect emissions from electricity, heat and steam that companies buy from utilities. Scope 3, in turn, includes upstream and downstream process parts within the company’s own supply chain. For all of these emission scopes, basic data and information from existing ERP systems can be used
Florian Holl, CEO of VERSO GmbH, also demonstrated the implementation of the sustainability reporting obligation with a practical example. The company has also developed its own cloud-based software tool for this purpose and demonstrated how to collect CSR-relevant data, generate key figures and create dashboards. At the push of a button, sustainability reports can be generated in different formats, which can be integrated into a website or even into an annual report. Basic data from the ERP system, imported via a CSV interface, also plays a role here.
The event made it clear how important it is to start dealing with sustainability reporting now. Even though not all companies are yet obliged to report, customer companies, for example, already have to request data from suppliers in their supply chain, which they need for their own sustainability reports. Here at the latest, even small, potentially non-reporting companies will have to provide data. Furthermore, transparency regarding sustainability criteria is expected to become a market differentiator. The relevance of sustainability data will therefore continue to increase, although much basic data can already be found in ERP systems today.
The event was offered by the VDMA in cooperation with ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the competence network of mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is implemented by VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform for networking, informing and marketing companies, institutions and networks among themselves and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).