Please find a copy of Kevin Williams article from July’s Edition of CSRTimes in India (www.csrtree.com), which is a niche magazine, with print run of 15,000+ copies monthly, which goes to all top corporates,Psus, agencies, civil societies, NGOs, celebrities, individual change makers and overseas clientele.

The corporate India is facing a period of significant change with the introduction of Companies Act 2013. Whilst there has long, been a deep understanding on a wide range of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) actives in India, The New Companies Act put’s into law very innovative CSR regulations and obligations on corporate India which are intended to simulate increased spend on local CSR activities. International community have applauded India on it’s innovative approach to CSR, they are now watching this new policy intervention to see if this model can be developed in other parts of the world.

Responding to CSR Regulation

The Confederation of Indian Industry and business thought leaders, have made available user guides on how to respond to CSR in India, these highlight various aspects from strategy through to reporting obligations in line with the schemes obligations and rules. This article is intending to look at CSR in India from a holistic, lean and IT data management viewpoint – presenting a different lens to a corporate response to CSR in India. The below “fishbone” diagram illustrates the relationship between the outcome (CSR Compliance) and the factors that influence it.

From our perspective, it is important to take a “Holistic view of CSR” identifying enablers within the business which can align, streamline and add value to strategic direction of the business, at the same time enhance the accountability and transparency of internal CSR data and process, which in turn can have positive impact on internal control measures. Successful responses are well planned and follow a structured process involving strategy, business case, implementation and an operational target model – leading organisations are looking at how IT can play a strategic role in the CSR value chain.

Identifying Information Technology (IT) data capture and reporting requirements

Taking a lean (or simplified) approach to understand how IT can play a role in CSR compliance can help the Corporate “Boards” and “CSR Committees” focus on the breadth of the process, aiming to improve end-to-end ‘flow’ and reduce waste within the process. By focusing on what adds value and reduces risk, IT can be used to enable better internal efficiencies and enhance internal data management controls – it will be important to understand the value of CSR data within the business, especially when there is a potential commitment to spend large amounts of money. Poor data management and reconciliation processes (planned CSR activity spend v actual CSR activity spend) can lead to potential risks and issues, IT and robust business workflow management can help mitigate these risks within a business.

The below diagram illustrates lean approach in the context of identifying IT requirements for CSR compliance in India, by mapping in a SIPOC process (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers). This can help clarify and identify critical characteristics, which form the basis of any future IT data capture and reporting requirements.

csr-india

Better data, efficient processes and lower costs?

To implement manageable, practical and useful systems that meet CSR requirements, companies will need to conduct thorough data reviews. These should also be linked to assess current data issues and any potential solutions that need to be implemented. Reviews should also be based on a clear understanding of what capabilities the business function actually needs, and conducted by strategic thinkers who can make informed decisions around what systems are fit for purpose and have long term integrity.

Web-based enterprise CSR management software will need to be considered. These should include the following functionalities:

(i) Identification of CSR projects & Non Government Organisation’s (NGOs)
(ii) Set up CSR projects & NGO’s
(iii) Monitoring and targeting with advanced analysis and tracking of CSR projects
(iv) Compliance and corporate CSR reporting
Importantly, working with a fragmented approach cannot meet the demands of tomorrow’s high quality, efficiency monitoring and reporting. What is required is close collaboration across core functions using common reporting data and integrated systems. To ensure this occurs, individuals will need to alter strategies and work in teams to implement an integrated approach. This will remove the need for triple checking of an individual’s calculations, thereby increasing data integrity and allowing for increased confidence to make informed business decisions.

Conclusion

There are many major advantages of utilizing an IT application to capture and provide reporting for specific CSR data that is critical to your business. Having one that is web-based provides additional advantages. By allowing staff to enter the CSR data from any device with Internet access, it will help keep data updated and accurate. Having this data available for management to pull reports day or night, in the office or on the road can also be an important characteristic.

CSR will have knock-on implications for corporate India, which some may see as a risk, while others will see this as a competitive opportunity. What is certain is that it will require fundamental change, and at the heart of this will be forward thinking business leaders who realise the secret to change is not just about today’s compliance drivers, but more importantly around business optimisation and competitive advantages moving forward.

Forward thinking companies will realise they have reached the stage where traditional approaches of incremental, short term solutions and workarounds will no longer be adequate, and fundamental issues surrounding data, systems, models, process and people will need to be addressed. Managing risk and creating value from CSR demands an enterprise with reliable data and clarity on increasingly complex policy, regulation and market drivers.