A new initiative to provide organisations and companies with software-based options to help manage the growing array of environmental and social programmes was launched this week.

Lawson Software's Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative aims to harness information technology to help companies meet their social and environmental targets, whether government-mandated or company-set.

Lawson says it believes many companies recognise that tracking social and environmental performance is good business - and hopes to help automate and integrate the management of these programmes.

According to the Global Reporting Initiative, a network of experts in global citizenship issues, there are more than 100 indicators of environmental, social and economic responsibility, ranging from energy consumption, wildlife habitat protection and greenhouse gas emissions to workforce diversity, customer privacy complaints and political donations.

"In many cases, there's a clear bottom-line benefit to these corporate social responsibility programmes - it's not just a feel-good exercise," said Lawson vice president and program champion Jeff Frank.

However, he also points to a study by AMR Research which shows companies are not managing their corporate citizenship efforts in any kind of comprehensive way.

The AMR Research study also found that environmental initiatives are currently driving most corporate social responsibility spending today.

"Less than a third of the respondents are using their ERP systems to help them manage these big challenges, yet because they are integrated and enterprise-wide, ERP systems can sensibly form the foundation for managing to environmental and social business objectives," said Nigel Montgomery, research director at AMR Research.

Lawson now plans to package pre-configured applications and its Lawson Business Intelligence suite with implementation methodologies specific to high priority environmental or social programmes.