IMA offers online course on sustainability reporting

The Institute of Management Accounting has debuted a massive open online course, or MOOC, on sustainability reporting.

The free course, “Improving Confidence in Sustainability Performance Data,” is being offered through openSAP. It fits into the trend of MOOCs, which have become popular in recent years through platforms such as Coursera and edX, which offer courses from some of the most prestigious universities in the U.S. and other countries. The course also helps teach accountants about sustainability reporting, another trend that’s being encouraged by groups such as the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.

The self-directed course is presented by IMA president and CEO Jeff Thomson. It includes a series of eight units, lasting 10 to 15 minutes each, explaining how professionals can get greater confidence in sustainability and nonfinancial data for business decision-making by establishing and maintaining effective internal controls.

“Sustainability and nonfinancial performance data, such as environmental factors, innovation and human assets, are becoming increasingly important to create, execute and communicate an organization’s strategy and value proposition,” Thomson said in a statement. “This type of data tends to be more qualitative, forward-looking and judgment-based relative to financial data, so we need to seek greater confidence and assurance in using this type of data for internal and external decision-making.

The course is based on the report, “Leveraging the COSO Internal Control Integrated Framework to Improve Confidence in Sustainability Performance Data,” co-written by Thomson, along with former FASB chairman Robert H. Herz, and IMA Global Board member Brad J. Monterio,.

The COSO (Community of Sponsoring Organizations) Internal Control Integrated Framework applies a holistic set of performance measures. The modules in the course explain how the 17 COSO principles apply to sustainability performance data, leveraging processes and competencies within the finance value chain.

The course uses the openSAP technology developed by enterprise resource planning software provider SAP. “It’s important that knowledge about new ideas in the digital economy is easily accessible and we’re happy to have the opportunity to open our MOOC platform to organizations like IMA,” said SAP chief knowledge officer Bernd Welz in a statement. “We are committed to creating a sustainable future for our customers, and society; this course compliments our purpose to help the world run better and improve people's lives,”

The course is open from Sept. 4 through Oct. 2, 2018. Along with free enrollment, IMA is offering a 20 percent discount on membership. For more information, visit https://open.sap.com/courses/ima1-tl.

Institute of  Management Accountants president and CEO Jeff Thomson

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