In recent years, and no less so, following the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), has fast become one of the most widespread initiatives in business today. With the sole intention of helping companies become better corporate citizens, and ‘shine bright’ in the public eye, and attract more customers, dedicated CSR companywide programs, and even entire departments and teams, are put in place to lead CSR projects.
So, what does CSR have to do with ERP? In a word (or two), CSR programs produce reams of business data, from information on program impact, budget and funding, charitable donations, to employee data and program engagement, a company’s ethical standards, procedures & policies, all the way to driving better-informed strategic business decisions – ALL for the greater good, to help drive social change.
An ERP system holds vast tomes of data all in a central database, with fast and easy access to scores of CSR-related documentation and data. Let’s take a closer look at how ERP systems can not only serve as a viable platform for an organization’s CSR programs, but also help drive CSR initiatives forward, and maintain seamless control of a company’s CSR “motives, money, and manpower,” with smart, automated business management tools.
What is CSR?
CSR refers to the many practices and policies undertaken by organizations that will ultimately have a positive influence on the world. The fundamental idea behind CSR is for a company to support a range of socially-driven initiatives, empower their employees by encouraging them to take an active role, and no less, to enhance their brand, and their profit margin.
Some common examples of CSR programs include supporting the environment via sustainable manufacturing processes to reduce waste and lower the carbon footprint, recycling programs, employee volunteer programs, and community service, and donating company funds to various charities and nonprofits.
Where the Elite… Meet: CSR & ERP
While a myriad of dedicated CSR solutions are available to manage an organization’s charity programs, for example, none can provide the “full gambit” of features and capabilities companies need to manage a comprehensive, cross-company, cross-functional CSR program.
Unlike standalone CSR software, an ERP system can facilitate not only a company’s CSR initiatives, such as company/employee donation matching, fundraising campaigns, volunteer event planning, and volunteer tracking, but actually build, automate, and optimize CSR programs based on real-time data analytics powered by an ERP system’s built-in BI tools. What’s more, with ERP’s support for global organizations with geographically dispersed offices, businesses can localize their CSR programs in the local language and currency, and ensure that it complies with local tax and banking requirements.
Since the size and scope of all CSR programs are based on a dedicated company budget, and its ability to not only spend but also receive money, it’s imperative that a management system support features such as credit card processing, payroll deductions, and be fully integrated with a company’s HR, time & attendance, and manpower planning and staffing. For example, would employees receive paid time off if they volunteer for CSR activities during work hours? Would they be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses associated with time-consuming sustainability programs, such as recycling? A comprehensive ERP system can efficiently handle all of this, and more – all on a single platform.
How ERP drives CSR forward
Today, business owners and managers are focused on driving innovation, increasing brand awareness, and maintaining business continuity, to ultimately, grow. When CSR is deemed an integral part of their overall success, managing the entire CSR program lifecycle in an ERP system, offers enormous benefits. The “Top 5” are illustrated below.
- Project Management. An ERP system makes it easier to plan, manage and monitor CSR initiatives every step of the way, keep managers and employees in the loop and on the same page, and generate reports based on real-time data. ERP’s project tracking tools provide employees with engaging and impactful volunteering experiences, help track and measure social impact, and generate reports on teams’ performance. Build and manage CSR programs using ERP’s forecasting, planning and analysis tools to predict project costs, based on tasks, milestones, and resource costs, including resource allocation, evaluating new opportunities, and managing project milestones.
- Budget & Costing. An ERP enables organizations to generate CSR project budgets, and closely monitor and track project costs, to enable financial transparency, vitally important to show company investors, owners, and employees exactly where their money is going. Create detailed budget and costing based on real-time operational and financial data integrated into the system to suit your company and CSR projects’ vision. Achieve and maintain tight internal control, critically important to any CSR program, with automated financial processes including General Ledger, Profit and Loss, balance sheets, cash flow, trial balances, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Expense & Asset Management, and more.
- Integrated Analysis Tools. With an ERP’s integrated Business Intelligence (BI) analysis tools, organizations can generate real-time business intelligence and customizable reports, to always have full visibility of the current CSR program status. Analyze project, financial, and employee data, and empower your workforce with a 360-degree view of each and every interaction or transaction via customizable dashboards, and generate business analysis reports powered by built-in BI tools. Easy access to data helps gain valuable insights into current and planned CSR programs, make better-informed business decisions, and translate data insights into real business value with actionable results.
- Mobile ERP. Mobile ERP functionality helps keep your CSR programs up and running, even when your employees are not in the office. With the surge in remote working, and many employees still working from home or in a hybrid work/home capacity, mobile ERP enables full system functionality from any mobile device or tablet, from any location, at any time. This way, CSR activities can be managed and monitored – on the go. Easy access to all the key components of your business and CSR programs, including operational data, budget, and finances, project management, employee management, including a convenient time & attendance module, can be done from your mobile device. With mobile ERP, your CSR programs never miss a beat!
- Human Resources. An ERP system’s HR module helps ensure your employees are effective, involved, and inspired, not only by their participation in CSR programs but in every aspect of their job role and responsibilities. Fully integrated HR management tools help organizations to automate, manage, and track employees’ CSR activities, generating real-time reports. Managers and team leaders can track their teams’ participation in CSR programs, with effective manpower planning tools, and publicly recognize employees for their good work, and CSR initiatives. More important, an HR module helps ensure that its human resources procedures are compliant with an organization’s policies and employment regulations.
While an ERP system can efficiently manage, control, automate and optimize your organization’s CSR initiatives, the one thing it cannot do, is singlehandedly motivate your employees. Motivation, inspiration, and employees’ willingness to take part in CSR programs, start at the top. When employees are empowered, when they are made to feel that their contribution matters, when their time and efforts are rewarded, their doing well by “doing good,” will follow.
Because “good work” is always found in the details, and viable CSR program management and reporting are based on a wealth of details and reams of data, an ERP system, with automated CSR project management, documentation, and tracking tools, helps organizations work smarter, faster, and more efficiently. There’s no easy way to put a CSR plan into practice, and it’s even harder to prove to company investors, owners, and other stakeholders, that the plan is being followed. Now might be a good time to consider ERP to not only drive your business forward but to power your CSR initiatives today, for a more socially responsible tomorrow.
To learn more about how you can empower your organization, CSR programs, and employees, contact us for a no-obligation call with one of our ERP implementation experts.