Sustainability Data Management

Data Management

More efficient access to sustainability indicators


Today, we are meeting two Evonik employees, Dörte Ehricke (Strategic IT Project Partner) and Guido Vornholt (Sustainability Expert and Sustainability Data Manager) at Evonik’s headquarters in Essen (Germany). They will be talking about managing sustainability indicators and how they could be used more efficiently at Evonik—a truly pioneering project.

Dörte Ehricke,
strategic IT project partner at Evonik.
Guido Vornholt,
sustainability expert and sustainability data manager at Evonik.
“A software solution can only be as good as the underlying processes, so it’s essential to look carefully at those processes.“ Dörte Ehricke
“Sustainability indicators are important value drivers for companies—alongside financial data. Therefore, sustainability data should be compiled and evaluated with the same care as financial data.“ Guido Vornholt

Hello Dörte, hello Guido.

We’re meeting up today to talk about your sustainability data management (SDM) project at Evonik. Your digital platform aims to make sustainability data available more efficiently for Evonik—at the push of a button, so to speak. Guido, you’re the project manager and Dörte, you’re the strategic IT project partner. What started the project, and what did you expect it to achieve?

Guido: Sustainability is an integral part of Evonik’s corporate strategy. Now we’re working on integrating the data and processes into other corporate functions. For our external sustainability report, we need reliable, audit-proof sustain­ability indicators that are available from a “single point of truth.” The requirements will rise considerably in the coming years, for example, because of new international and regional regulations and rising demand from the capital markets and our customers for sustainability indicators. Moreover, from an internal perspective, we need to improve the strategic management of our businesses. Our operating units need greater transparency, so they have a better basis for decisions that have a bearing on sustainability indicators. That’s essential for the efficient realization of related opti­mization steps. We also want to automate our sustain­ability-related processes to make them more efficient. One example is the sustainability analysis of our business, which has so far basically been done manually.

This analysis looks at our whole portfolio from three perspectives—by product, application, and region. So far, we’ve defined more than 500 PARCs (product-application-region combinations). In addition, the individual indicators are determined in five sustainability categories such as the hazard potential of our products, our stakeholders’ requirements, and ecological and social sustainability performance.

Calculating this multidimensional structure manually was very time-consuming. That’s why we started working on the first module of our sustainability data management (SDM) platform in 2022.

The demands made on the project were obviously really high. How did you approach it?
Dörte: Data and indicators are very valuable for a company. Making the data available quickly is the first challenge. Structuring it so it creates value for decision-making and the management of the business is the second one. As the first step, we jointly analyzed the systems landscape at Evonik, where the data are retrieved. That showed there is plenty of information available—but from different sources. Up to now, the data have been compiled and analyzed manually. All that manual work is very time-consuming and prone to errors. Moreover, the decentralized input of data led to inconsistencies, which then had to be eliminated manually.

From our analysis of the process, we could already see where the principal problems were and where initial improvements could be achieved by automating the sustainability analysis of our business. Using a uniform software platform greatly simplifies data delivery because all users enter their data directly in the system. Changes along the process chain are easier to trace for audit purposes. As a result, the whole process is faster and more convenient. It also increases the flexibility to perform specific analyses.

Guido: And that is where you come in Dörte, as our strategic IT project partner. Data retrieval with a few clicks only works with the right technological platform, and for that, we need your expertise and the input from Evonik’s IT specialists.

Dörte: Yes, a software solution is always defined by the process behind it. User-friendly data delivery requires a lot of careful preparatory work by both sides. To exploit the full potential of the process, it therefore needs to be underpinned by an organizational change process. If the development of the technology can be linked to the associated change process, the “Big 5” of sustainability data management are within reach.

The “Big 5”—what does that mean??
Guido: The “Big 5” of sustainability management—for us, that means automation of sustainability-related processes, audit-proof sustainability data, analyzing diverse and complex data, integrating sustainability indicators into established business processes, and transparency for external reporting.

Dörte: The project made heavy demands on us all in 2022, and what we did was really trailblazing. But it was worth it: We implemented the first module in December 2022 for the sustainability analysis of our business.

Is the sustainability data management project finished, or is there more to be done?
Guido: It’s not finished yet. Implementing the sustainability analysis of our business was only an important first step towards a comprehensive sustainability data management system at Evonik. We want to start work on the second module—greenhouse gas emission management (GEM)—in 2023. In this subproject, we’ll be focusing on consistent calculation of greenhouse gas emissions at various levels, for example, for products and sites. Strategically, these figures are very important for Evonik. They form the basis for further measures to reduce CO2eq, and, at the same time, they provide a sound basis for forecasting our future greenhouse gas emissions.


Dörte Ehricke and Guido Vornholt talk like…
…sustainability key figures are made more efficiently usable through the digitalization of sustainability data management in order to be able to serve the increasing requirements of stakeholders.

Guido and Dörte recording the podcast at Evonik’s headquarters in Essen

(Podcast only available in German)


Dörte Ehricke and Guido Vornholt on the…
…digitization of sustainability data management and the “single point of truth“ for resilient and auditable sustainability metrics at the push of a button.
Dörte and Guido at the video recording session.
back to top