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‘We go beyond our clients’ expectations by combining tech and people and help them plan not just for profit, but for the future’
Softhouse Balkans is proving that an IT consultancy company can positively impact its own employees and help other companies scale-up their sustainability agenda.
As part of the IT consulting industry, Softhouse Balkans, a branch office of the Swedish-based Softhouse Consulting Group, has been continuously working on developing innovative, lean and agile software solutions, as well as helping its clients capture value and grow digital businesses. Observing its clients’ challenges to communicate sustainability initiatives and understand the current state in this regard within their businesses seemed like an obvious untapped opportunity. Thus, Softhouse came up with a solution that will help its clients revisit their business impact and identify unexploited sustainability opportunities.
‘Our idea is to provide our clients, both current and future ones, with the way of assessing to what extent their businesses contribute to the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As part of our offering, we want to help them discover how to use digitalization to become more impactful and innovative in their business model. Placed within Softhouse Consulting Academy, a new assessment framework – ‘SDG Learn’, coupled with tailor-made workshops – ‘SDG Implement’, complements our current offering to our clients. In practice that means that clients who wish to explore the sustainability impact of their business will be able to take a survey exploring different dimensions of their work, e.g. identifying their general awareness of the SDGs, how the goals interact with the operations, people and strategy after which our clients will be given a short snapshot of a report with their status’, says Samira Nuhanović, Softhouse Balkans COO.
As part of the SDG Accelerator Programme, Softhouse Balkans initially set out to create an online SDG estimation survey. However, the ambition level and its strong consulting experience prompted the company to create a completely new set of services, Samira further explains:
‘Our clients have the ability to explore possible solutions and see how they might enhance their business operations through digitalization. In case they wish to discover concrete actions to create more direct or indirect positive impact through SDG framework, they can apply for a call during which we explain how the second part of the service works. “SDG Implement” – the in-depth analysis of business opportunities within the SDG framework will be assessed through a number of workshops in order to help business owners understand that impact is to be found in different aspects of their business – not just in how they interact with their customers. The workshops will cover a full screening of the business, the value chain, and a specific dedication will be placed on their internal operations. One of the workshops will focus on exploring to what extend digitalization can help improve the sustainability status of the business.’
As the result of participating in the SDG Accelerator Programme, Softhouse Balkans is now completely rethinking its own dedication towards addressing sustainability challenges. Although Softhouse Balkans has been active in supporting the SDG narrative for quite some time, this Program pushed them from simply talking about the importance of the SDG framework for business, to actually doing something about it. Samira emphasizes:
‘Not only did we increase the general awareness of the Goals among our employees, but we got everyone to start thinking that even an IT consulting firm can well expand its services to help other companies achieve greater good. Furthermore, we have been exposed to tools and exercises that will, for sure, prove valuable to some other processes inside the company. The Programme as such allows step by step exploration of the company’s internal functioning as well as its engagement with different aspects of the market and how to improve those keeping the SDG framework in mind.’
Samira says that the approach of this solution opens up new a door for Softhouse Balkans to not only diversify service offering for its clients, but also allow space for its employees to generate new ideas that will find value in contributing towards the company’s long-term sustainability initiatives.
‘For one thing, our employees will be more exposed to the sustainability topic not just through interaction with this tool, but also through our dedication to internally selected SDGs. Our clients stand to benefit from IT consultants who will not only provide them with software, but will be able to complement their delivery with guidance on how to capture business opportunities while bringing their businesses closer in line with the SDGs.’
So far, Softhouse Balkans has been working out the structure of its offering and how to diversify it for both the current Swedish and the new Bosnian market, explains Samira.
‘The solution will come in two components: one free of charge with the educational character and then a heavier component that will involve a very intensive collaboration between our consultants and clients. We are finalizing the educational component – SDG Learn, and are expecting to be done with the SDG Implement component most likely by the end of the first quarter of 2021. We are about to consolidate the materials that we have internally developed over the years and put them to use through this new service. Overall, with this new solution, we aim on bringing out the approach that will allow us to help our clients capture value that will entail multiple positive effects on different stakeholders.’
Target 4.7: By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.
Target 5.1: End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
Target 5.B: Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women.
Following the SDG Accelerator Programme and more intensive involvement with the SDG challenges, Softhouse Balkans aims on paying special attention to SDGs related to education and gender equality.
Softhouse Balkans will be working internally on different initiatives to raise awareness among its employees of the importance of SDGs. The solution itself – ‘SDG Learn and SDG Implement’ will allow its clients who are willing to explore their impact and how to increase it, to see which of the SDGs will be best to focus on in their particular case.