This article provides information on the annual process that is supported by Datamaran to proactively anticipate and manage emerging issues.
The first point to begin considering emerging issues is during the Topic Mapping step of creating a Materiality Analysis. The backbone of any Datamaran Materiality Analysis is the Topic Mapping, through which aggregate business-relevant issues are defined. As part of determining which topics to map to issues, the Shared Topics library under Community Topics should be reviewed – this is a live repository of Datamaran user-built emerging and industry-specific topics. If a relevant emerging topic is not locatable, consider building it and sharing it back with the community.
The next stage to consider emerging issues is after at least a draft Materiality Analysis is completed. Using the Emerging Issues Analysis, gain insight into issues with prominence in leading external sources (NewsFlow, Voluntary regulation and Social) as compared to more lagging sources, as well as the issues on an upward trajectory of importance across these sources. The results of this analysis are complementary to the Materiality Analysis; they should first be used in an iterative process to refine the Topic Mapping or source weights, and then as a strategic tool to support in defining the issues to manage.
On an on-going basis – at least biannually, optimally per quarter – review the evolution of the issues from the Materiality Analysis through Monitoring. Not only does this dashboard present issue changes over time, but it also provides important insight into the primary source drivers for these changes. As such, it answers the ever-imperative question about the dynamic issue importance views of external stakeholders. It can be used to proactively manage issues on an upward trajectory and generally applied to anticipate the subsequent materiality analysis.
6 months after completing a Materiality Analysis, download the Emerging Issues Analysis afresh to assess whether any of the issue emergence signals have changed, or new signals are presenting. This provides an opportunity to reflect on overall issues management and whether new issues may be important to begin managing in advance of the next materiality assessment.
Many leading companies report emerging issues to a regularly convened committee. Datamaran has developed a template that can be used to support in this process, ensuring the important insights presented are captured and explained to be shared with other functions.
Finally, remember that refreshing the Materiality Analysis annually is a vital step to this overall process. Materiality is dynamic because the world around is in constant motion; treating it as a static project rather than an on-going process will be detrimental to managing the most important issues and results in greater risks to the business.
The refresh of a Materiality Analysis can be as easy as the click of a button. It is recommended, however, that a clone of the original analysis be made to maintain a referential archive of analyses. Once cloned, click ‘All Set, Let’s Capture and Continue’ to refresh the data. If Monitoring was used as prescribed, there shouldn’t be any surprises in the results! Obviously the ‘Internal View’ data may also need to be refreshed before progressing further to understanding the results, and the important issues prioritization and management cycle resets.