I came across an article in which the author raised some interesting points about how process automation can contribute to ‘Green IT’ initiatives.
The author suggests that Goverments should mandate the use of workflow for these initiatives and identifies these potential benefits:
- Reduced paper use
- Collaborating and efficiency gains (by improving processes)
- Carbon footprint reduction
I agree that there is great potential in automation for these type of initiatives but as a pragmatist I would suggest that organisations do not always fully understand how and when to address automation and the the Green IT agenda to ensure quantifiable business benefits.
I foresee that for the immediate future, organisations will continue to be very tactical in the way they implement process automation (Green BPM). This is largely due to the amorphous and pervasive nature of the business process in a complex organisational structure.
In my experience, workflow normally gets implemented based on an immediate tactical business pain that needs to be resolved and therefore can deliver immediate and tangible business value (ROI). Typical examples of initiatives can include cost reduction, increased efficiencies, regulatory compliance etc. These are well understood and therefore can be quantified.
I think organisations are still getting to grips with what ‘Green IT’ is and therefore making a tangible business case for Green BPM automation in this context is not yet a priority, but may become more common place in future.
Mandating automation is a way of introducing it but I anticipate organisations will be asking:
- What is in it for us?
- Where is the value?
- How do we manage the behavioural and organisational change?
Does anybody have experiences on where BPM is being adopted in this context? I would be interested to hear about some case studies, requirements and to understand how a business case was/can be defined for any related Green IT automation initiatives.
Postscript – added 16 September 2008:
An interesting ‘organic’ (Straus Family Creamery) though non IT example of how green process benfits can contribute to the bottom line savings is described in the post from Gartner. It explains how general process improvements can contribute to how an organisation an increase efficiencies while not increasing its costs or carbon foot print.
PPS – added 16 November 2008:
Seems like my Gartner also feel that there is still some work to be done in quantifying exactly what and where the ROI for Green BPM is. A recent post “Greening the Business with BPM” Posted By: Jennifer Kenny describing their view can be found here.