Data Collection Is Essential to CSR

What it means to be a data-driven organization
September 23, 2013

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting is becoming increasingly important for US and global firms who want to manage their long-term risks and develop new business opportunities.

A recent study revealed that three of the four biggest CSR reporting challenges for companies concern the data set used in CSR reports. According to the survey carried out earlier this year, more than 50 percent of respondents claimed that availability and accuracy of data are the top challenges they face, while close to half have difficulty obtaining external buy-in to disclose data.

Finally, less than 10 percent of respondents feel that the level of resources available during the reporting process is an issue. Data management processes are typically manual and are frequently time consuming and prone to error. The difficulties related to data gathering include, but are not limited to:

  • Acquisition of needed information from suppliers and/or internal stakeholders
  • Physical limitations of dispersed geographical operations
  • Data quality and variability
  • Roll-up of data

Given that a CSR report is generally signed by the CEO and illustrates the vision for the long-term viability of a company, these challenges pose a significant problem for companies. Accessing quality data whose source is verified and whose pertinence can be trusted is essential to these reports. Currently, the most common method of housing and tracking data from a variety of sources is by using spreadsheets.

Another recent study revealed that the patchwork of IT programs or legacy systems is the most significant barrier for companies who want to create integrated CSR reports. In addition, large IT solutions can also lead to problems of their own. On average, according to a 2012 study, large IT programs deliver 56 percent less value than expected while running 45 percent over budget and 7 percent behind schedule.

As CSR reporting becomes a critical business element, organizations will need to address these data challenges to better analyze and use their data. The CSR Reporting Solution is further enhanced with our Data Collection Solution, which addresses each of the challenges mentioned, so your company can efficiently and accurately share its vision for the future with its stakeholders.

To learn more about how your organization can get ahead by eliminating its data collection challenges with Wdesk, please visit Why Wdesk, or click here to schedule a demo.


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    Institute of Management Accountants. (2013). “Integrated Reporting.” [Webinar]. Retrieved from

    “Value of sustainability reporting,” (2013). Ernst & Young, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. Retrieved by: