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Feb 01 2024

The BRSR Revolution: How Software is Leaving Traditional Reporting Methods in the Dust

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The BRSR Revolution: How Software is Leaving Traditional Reporting Methods in the Dust

It's a brave new world for sustainability reporting in India. After years of voluntary disclosure, the country's top 1,000 listed companies are now mandated to file detailed Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reports (BRSRs) covering a wide range of ESG metrics.

For many firms, the new requirements represent a significant departure from their existing reporting practices. Under the previous Business Responsibility Reporting (BRR) regime, disclosures were limited to a handful of high-level questions. The BRSR, in contrast, requires granular data on everything from Scope 3 emissions to supplier diversity spend.

Collecting, validating, and disclosing this information is a daunting task - and one that traditional reporting methods are ill-equipped to handle. Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and manual data entry may have sufficed in the past, but they simply won't cut it in the era of mandatory, assurance-ready ESG disclosure.

That's where BRSR reporting software comes in. Over the past year, I've had the chance to demo a number of these platforms, and I've been blown away by their capabilities. Here's how they stack up against traditional methods:

Data collection and management: With traditional methods, ESG data often has to be manually gathered from disparate sources across the organisation, a time-consuming and error-prone process. BRSR software automates data collection through integrations with existing enterprise systems, significantly reducing effort and improving accuracy.

Framework alignment: Keeping up with the latest reporting frameworks and standards is a constant challenge with traditional methods. BRSR software comes pre-loaded with the BRSR framework and other major standards, making it easy to map data to specific requirements.

Data validation and audit trails: Ensuring the accuracy and completeness of ESG data is critical, especially with external assurance becoming the norm. BRSR software has built-in data validation checks and audit trails, while traditional methods rely on manual error-checking and version control.

Report generation and visualisation: Creating reports in Word or PowerPoint can be a tedious, iterative process. BRSR software generates pixel-perfect reports at the click of a button, complete with interactive data visualisations that bring ESG performance to life.

Collaboration and workflow: With traditional methods, collaborating on ESG reports often involves endless email chains and version control nightmares. BRSR software provides a central platform for data entry, review, and approval, with clear roles and workflows to keep everyone on the same page.

Perhaps most importantly, BRSR software is built to scale as reporting requirements evolve. Many platforms offer flexible data models and configurable frameworks, allowing companies to adapt to changing stakeholder expectations without starting from scratch each time.

Of course, software is not a panacea. Effective ESG reporting still requires strong governance, robust processes, and trained personnel. And for smaller firms with limited resources, the cost and complexity of implementing a dedicated BRSR solution may be prohibitive (although I expect we'll see more lightweight, SaaS options emerge in the coming years).

But for most large listed companies, the choice is increasingly clear. Traditional reporting methods simply can't keep pace with the demands of modern ESG disclosure. Investing in purpose-built software is no longer a nice-to-have - it's a necessity.

As someone who has spent their career [advising companies on sustainability strategy / building ESG reporting tools / whatever your relevant background is], I've seen firsthand the difference the right technology can make. Companies that embrace digital solutions are able to spend less time on data wrangling and more time on analysis, insights, and action. They're able to respond quickly to investor queries and regulatory changes. And they're able to build trust with stakeholders by providing transparent, reliable, and assured ESG data.

The BRSR mandate may be the catalyst, but the shift to software-driven sustainability reporting is about much more than compliance. It's about harnessing the power of data and technology to drive real progress on the most pressing challenges of our time. It's about moving beyond static, backward-looking disclosures to dynamic, forward-looking insights. It's about creating a new standard for corporate transparency and accountability.

The future of sustainability reporting is digital - and that future is already here. The question is not whether to make the leap, but how fast. Will your company be a leader or a laggard?

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