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As sustainability draws more attention than ever before, SAP has enabled its entire product line, including supply chain software and human capital management, to collect and manage environmental data. The company has also developed new tools that focus on sustainability.
One of those tools is Product Footprint Management, which the company announced at the SAP Sustainability Summit earlier this year. Targeted for a release this fall, the software helps provide a holistic view of a product's overall environmental impact. This should equip business leaders with the information they need to prioritize actions and investments that will improve sustainability.
SAP Product Footprint Management will include a number of capabilities to help companies manage their environmental impact.
The software provides insight by embedding sustainability information into transactional and master data throughout S/4HANA. In turn, this should enable companies to record environmental impact at a highly granular level and with great accuracy. The first product version will focus on carbon, including carbon emissions and a product's carbon footprint. The software will eventually also track water usage, energy consumption and land usage.
Product Footprint Management will include a standardized framework for organizing all the information -- a kind of semantic framework for sustainability data. Centralizing this information could help companies assess their sustainability efforts.
Product footprint assessment
The product footprint assessment tool should help companies understand the environmental impact of each product throughout the product's lifecycle. The assessment tool calculates each product's upstream footprint -- such as the carbon generated from processing raw materials -- as well as the downstream effects, such as the product's carbon footprint in a typical usage scenario. Any supply chain partner will be able to view the product's environmental impact at each stage and make changes to their own part of the process if desired.
Product Footprint Management provides further insight into the sustainability data by generating footprint dashboards and scores for each product as well as data visualizations, including heat maps and Sankey diagrams, which are flow charts depicting movements of material. This analysis could help companies decide how to improve their sustainability efforts, including changing product design and sourcing.
About the author
Jim Kofalt has spent over two decades working with ERP and CRM software for small and midsize enterprises. He spent 16 years at SAP working with SME business applications. Prior to that, he was a product manager for integration technology at Microsoft's Business Solutions division and has managed numerous ERP implementations. He is currently the president of DX4 Research, a technology advisory practice specializing in ERP and digital transformation. He has a bachelor's from Georgetown University and an MBA from Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management.
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