Introducing the GHGMI Software Program
This week we made another update to the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute website. No, this isn’t related to recent upgrades to our course delivery systems — though if you haven’t already checked out our education program “reboot” I encourage you to take a look at a summary of those updates here. Rather, this week’s changes relate to a program area in which we have quietly been engaged since 2009, but are only now making public: greenhouse gas software evaluation program.
This program provides GHG software vendors with expert feedback on their products, while also giving software users an independent evaluation of particular software’s features and functionality.
A Short History of GHGMI’s Background in GHG Software Assessment
If you have ever conducted a greenhouse gas inventory, you know first-hand the importance of data management and systems to the process. Further, if you have had the opportunity to work on inventories for any variety of organizations you can likely attest to the limits of automation, challenges of data integration, and, above all, the prevalence (and pitfalls) of Excel spreadsheets as a tracking tool. These emissions inventory data management issues have not gone unnoticed and in the late aughts a number of software solutions emerged to address these challenges from all range of companies, from garage upstarts to consulting and technology giants.
As this software space first began to heat up at the end of the last decade, we began to receive requests pertaining to specific offerings: from inventory compilers trying to make sense of the software options, from financiers looking to potentially invest in GHG software companies, and even from the software providers themselves. We responded to these inquiries by partnering with the Carbon Disclosure Project (now, simply known as CDP) to conduct evaluations of vendors participating in their “Carbon Calculation Partners” program. Now, building on several years experience undertaking assessments we have launched our own testing initiative: the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute Software Evaluation Program. The new program expands on our existing software evaluation protocol and is designed to deliver credible, rigorous, and independent expert feedback to both software providers and their users.
Announcing the Greenhouse Gas Institute Software Program
The cornerstone of the program is our software evaluation process. During vendor evaluations, GHGMI plays the part of a typical customer implementing a GHG software package. This evaluation goes “under the hood” to test a broad set of criteria and assess how different software modules actually perform. In our past evaluations (through 2013) we employed a protocol that tested just over 50 criteria. Now, as part of our new program we are introducing an improved protocol that tests more than 100 criteria. Each evaluation culminates in a technical Software Evaluation Report for software providers, which documents the results of the review. The Institute also now produces a Software Evaluation Summary, with highlights from the full report that provide unbiased information to users, potential customers, and other stakeholders. Software Evaluation Summaries that providers have elected to share publicly can be accessed through the program website.
Our program is built on the back of a testing protocol developed from ground up and refined through years of hands-on experience assessing greenhouse gas software, working with many diverse inventories, and interacting with GHG professionals. This program is in direct alignment with the Institute’s mission. Through rigorous testing and evaluation, we support software vendors in building products that meet high standards of professional practice, while providing unbiased information to users or potential users. You can count on GHGMI testing to be:
- Unique and independent: We provide a unique perspective, as we are neither a software firm’s in-house testing department nor a customer, but a knowledgeable and experienced independent third-party.
- Expert and in-depth: We bring genuine independent expertise and rigor to the evaluation. As a technically minded specialist organization, we go further in-depth than typical software reviews performed by market research companies. If there is a problem, we will find it.
- Constructive and relevant: We engage directly with suppliers with the twin goals of helping to improve their products (and processes) and clearly communicate their software’s attributes to users. When we identify problems, we clearly communicate them to the software providers, invite the opportunity to remedy them, and test the solutions. We add value by helping to improve software and ensuring that resulting inventory data is of sufficient quality.
We are planning a range of launch activities for the coming months to introduce our new software program. In the meantime, we encourage you to take a look at the program’s webpages, discuss with your colleagues, and send us comments and suggestions. We look forward to continuing our work to improve the quality and functionality of GHG software.