How to monitor issues over time with the Monitoring feature

This article provides information on accessing and using the Monitoring feature to understand how issues are evolving over time and the source(s) driving the changes.

What is Monitoring and where is it in Datamaran?

Monitoring provides an analysis of how the issues applied in a materiality assessment have changed over time and the source(s) driving the changes.

To access this feature, navigate to the Materiality module and select ‘Monitoring’ from the Materiality sub-menu.

A prerequisite to using Monitoring is that there is at least one saved Materiality Analysis. The most recent saved analysis will load by default. To view data for a different analysis, select it from the ‘Current analysis’ drop-down list at the top-right of the screen.

Understanding the Monitoring table and rank data

The Monitoring analysis is summarized in tabular format and relays information on the issues increasing in rank the most over the past 6 months. Since the ‘Internal View’ data from the materiality analysis are static, this monitors changes in the ‘External View’ data only, excluding custom data. The data are analyzed on a once-a-month basis at the start of each month and currently only 6 months are presented. This approach supports trends analysis that ties directly into an annual materiality business process; as such, Monitoring presents insightful mid-term issue trends that should be reviewed intermittently to anticipate the subsequent materiality analysis (an explanation of the annual process to proactively anticipate and manage emerging issues can be read here).

The issues in the table are ordered by their change in ranks over this period, from greatest to least. All of the rank-change data, at issue-level and by source, presented in Monitoring can be downloaded to Excel by clicking the ‘Export Data’ button.

To view the rank changes for all issues, click the ‘Show all issues’ button in the table header. A scrollbar will appear to peruse the entire issue list.

The data displayed in the table are (by column from left to right):

  • ‘Issues’ lists the issue names assigned in the selected materiality analysis.
  • ‘Issue importance from your analysis’ indicates the High/ Medium/ Low designation from the materiality matrix for each issue.
  • ‘Latest rank (out of X issues)’ provides the most recent external rank out of all of the issues, with 1 being the highest of X total issues.
  • ‘Change over 6 months’ displays the rank change over the 6 month period of each issue. If the materiality analysis was last refreshed within that 6 month window, a ‘Change since analysis refresh’ toggle is visible, which updates the table to reflect issue changes since the last date of refresh. This also re-sorts the table based on the updated issue changes.
  • ‘Drivers of change’ lists the primary source or sources responsible for the rank change for each issue. For increasing issues, this represents the source(s) driving the positive trend in terms of rank change, normally tied to growing volume or emphasis related to the issue (read below for more explanation on this). Decreasing issues are the opposite, typically representing sources with a decline in volume or emphasis over the monitored period. There are occasions when an increase or decrease in an issue rank is only explainable due to rank changes for other issues, since the ranking is relative. These are denoted with an asterisk (*). Issues that have not changed rank do not have source drivers.

Accessing a detailed issue-level chart by source

Clicking any issue row opens a detailed chart by source for the selected issue, providing insight into both rank and emphasis/ volume change by external data source (each source’s raw data are compiled and analyzed differently, e.g. Benchmark uses an emphasis score while NewsFlow uses volume, hence the different labels applied). By default, the source representing the primary driver of the analysis-level, or overall, issue change opens on a chart showing the monthly rank change over the past 6 months. To view more information about the issue change between any two months, click the month dots in the chart. To switch between sources, click a different source icon located directly above the chart – the External View Score is the composite across all sources. To view the chart by emphasis/ volume instead, which presents the change in raw source data related to the issue, use the available toggle and slide away from Rank. Other issues can be opened in the chart by clicking the issue name in the table above.

Comprehending source-level changes through emphasis/ volume

Assessing changes in the underlying emphasis/ volume data is an important step to truly understanding source-level effects on any issue. Before presenting the primary source driver as de facto responsible for analysis-level issue changes, review the emphasis/ volume data to corroborate the trajectory of the rank change. Just as at analysis-level, sometimes source-level issue rank changes are only due to changes in other issue ranks – we call this a passive effect. These passive changes may result in a primary source driver that effects the analysis-level issue rank without fundamental changes in the raw emphasis/ volume data. Relatedly, a source may present a growth or decline in emphasis/ volume without affecting the source-level rank. This would be emblematic of a sufficient number of other higher or lower ranked issues following a similar trajectory.