InsightsFuture offers assurance management and data innovations support for sustainability standards, certification programs, and verification programs.
Data governance program development and review
I have supported sustainability standards organizations in adopting data management best practices to review or develop data governance programs. The data governance framework we apply was developed specifically for sustainability standards and is useful for a range of auditing assurance systems.
I begin by defining business use cases where better data is needed to anchor the journey through the framework to address data challenges such as poor data quality, undocumented data processes, and unclear data sharing policy. Business use cases are a practical way to ground framework concepts and illustrate why defining data use objectives, developing a data inventory, and mapping data processes are helpful.
The journey through the data life cycle also serves to build awareness about the importance of data governance so that key data streams can be managed systematically. Tools and recommendations help my clients share data effectively to create value and advance their objectives, while also charting a roadmap to implement data governance programs and policies that empower staff to use data with confidence.
Benchmarking assessments and recognition programs
I have supported several sustainability standards in upgrading and updating their benchmarking assessment tools (standards and assurance systems) to inform their collaborations with other sustainability programs. These tools are often used iteratively when certification systems want to assess whether another program’s assurance system is as rigorous as their own and to identify program strengths and opportunities for mutual benefit. The results of benchmarking assessments are also considered to inform the structure for broader recognition programs using best practices.
Projects include review of existing standards and assurance benchmarking tools and inclusion of updates to reflect the latest best practices in assurance. Enhancements and other upgrades to the tools have also enabled more precise evaluation of the operations and practices of other systems through assessments of:
- Assurance data practices (including how auditing data informs improvements and management reviews)
- Adherence to high-level assurance principles (where systems are dissimilar from third-party certification)
Data Highways for Sustainability Data: Information and Data Standard for Sustainability Project (2018-2019)
This project is being led by the Forest Stewardship Council and is currently in its incubation phase through the ISEAL Alliance Innovations Fund. It aims to standardize data and information from sustainability standards (certification audit data) in order to make the data accessible, discoverable, and usable by a range of sustainability stakeholders in a machine-readable format. Practical value from this project will be data repositories (like temporary information banks) that enable exchange of licensed data with clear access and sharing protocols that can be used by a range of stakeholders to support sustainability efforts.
The infrastructure being developed by this project can be likened to highways that will enable data to move and be exchanged so that organizations can discover it and use it more easily. This is critical to addressing complex challenges where organized data is needed for analysis to efficiently monitor sustainability risks and drive improvements in sustainability efforts.
I served as the ISEAL Alliance technical lead on this project during its inception year (2018-2019) and applied expert knowledge and experience in assurance and data innovations. Roles included crafting the value proposition for the project, translating technical concepts into simple communications, building a stakeholder engagement strategy, and developing work plans. I also proposed the scope of data and information elements that could be harnessed from the ISEAL Alliance Codes of Good Practice.
If you are interested in learning more about the project, visit FSC digital innovations.
Credibility Best Practice Development for Sustainability Standards (2016-2019)
While at ISEAL Alliance, I proposed updated assurance best practice concepts for the ISEAL Assurance Code v2 (2017). I proposed new information management requirements and elements to strengthen digital assurance based on my prior experience working deeply within a certification program at Rainforest Alliance. Assurance Code requirements now put data and information at the center of assurance practice and impacts for sustainability standards.
My work at ISEAL also included support to ISEAL members on assurance practice including the development and delivery of training workshops, digital capacity assessments and tools, webinars, and events. I developed five guidance notes on information management, risk management, and data governance to support digital transformation for the ISEAL community.
- Guidance note: Information Management for Effective Assurance (ISEAL Alliance, 2017)
- Guidance note: Building a Risk Management Plan for Assurance (ISEAL Alliance, 2018)
- Data governance: Understanding Your Data Value Chain (ISEAL Alliance, 2019)
- Data governance: Developing a Data Inventory (ISEAL Alliance, 2019)
- Data governance: Developing Your Data Governance Policy (ISEAL Alliance, 2019)
Assurance System Capacity Expansion (2007-2016)
In my nine year tenure at Rainforest Alliance, I worked in various roles to significantly expand operational capacity for the agriculture certification program to new regions. I led a five year project to increase operational capacity from one certifier to ten globally. My work included implementation of work plans and activities to scale up system infrastructure such as governance mechanisms, assurance policies, system legal contracts, documentation, training, and stakeholder communications.
This process included retooling of the certificate database to accommodate greater operational capacity, improve data quality, and streamline data collection. Some of the data management practices implemented for this established certification program are now part of ISEAL Alliance’s best practice tools.
The Future of Assurance is Data (webinar)
Learn more about my work to enhance sustainability standards practice by putting data at the center of credible assurance, through this webinar that I delivered while working at ISEAL Alliance.