Computer Science
Green Information and Communications Technology Strategies


Computer Science
Green Information and Communications Technology Strategies

Unit 3: Business/IS Strategy and Planning

Seminar: Business Process Improvement

In Section 1.3, Enabling ICT, we looked in general terms at how ICT systems can be used to make organizations more sustainable. Now we will look in more detail at business process improvement (BPI): a systematic approach to optimizing the functions of an organization. BPI is a general purpose tool, but in this case we are applying it to the use of ICT in organizations to reduce energy and material use.

Three Steps to BPI Methodology

  1. Define strategic goals: What is the purpose of the organization? What business is it in? Why does it do what it does?
  2. Determine the stakeholders: Who are the customers and other important groups for the organization?
  3. Align processes to goals: Identify business processes that can achieve the organization's goals.

Business Processes

Business processes (methods) are related, systematically structured activities (tasks) applied to produce a specific service or product for a particular group of customers.

Three types of business processes:

  1. Management: governs the operation of the organization. Includes corporate governance and strategic management.
  2. Operational: the core business of the organization. Can include purchasing, manufacturing, marketing, and sales.
  3. Supporting: ancillary to core processes, including accounting, recruitment, technical support, etc.

Each business process should address a customer need and result in need fulfillment. A process can consist of sub-processes. The analysis of processes and sub-processes can be carried on down to the activity level.

An analysis of business processes is intended to eliminate any activity that does not add value for the customer. A well designed business process should increase effectiveness and efficiency. Normally these are measured in terms of financial measures (cost reduction and revenue). However, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reduction, and materials use can be used to measure sustainability.

Techniques such as Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) can be used for diagramming business processes in a workflow. BPMN is intended to be readable for both technical and business users.

High-level models are used purely to describe business processes, whereas users may be able to execute detailed models using specialized software.

BPI for Non-Radical Change

Claims have been made for BPI making radical changes in the performance of organizations. Michael Hammer and James Champy popularized this radical model in their book Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution (1993). Hammer and Champy stated that a reengineering process was not meant to impose trivial changes, such as 10% improvements or 20% cost reductions, but was meant to be revolutionary (look up breakthrough solution).

Unfortunately, many businesses in the 1990s used the phrase reengineering as a euphemism for layoffs. Other organizations did not make radical changes in their business processes, did not make significant gains, and wrote the process off as a failure. Yet others have found that BPI is a valuable tool in a process of gradual change to a business.

BPI for Energy Use Reduction

BPI uses measurable results and benchmarks. The process owners need to be identified, and measures of success/failure of the process need to be set. In addition to identifying success/failure measures, control limits for the process provide a check on whether a process is meeting the desired customer objectives.

Green ICT may use measures such as energy use or greenhouse gas emissions. A problem with accountability: energy measures for data centres have been the split in responsibilities between facilities management and ICT or data centre management. Facilities management may be responsible for the building, while the ICT or data centre management take responsibility for the computers in the building. The facilities manager may be responsible for the electricity bill for the data centre building, yet is unable to make decisions about computer equipment purchases—decisions that could reduce the electricity expenditure.

ICT Examples

The Telstra Corporation (an Australian media and telecommunications company), has estimated that use of telecommunications could reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 5% by 2015. Three examples of how this would take place include the following:

  1. Efficient deployment of field workforces with GPS: Wireless broadband and GPS can be used to schedule personnel between jobs at remote sites to reduce the distances travelled. In addition to reducing fuel used (reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles), this practice also reduces unproductive time while staff are travelling.
  2. Flexible work arrangements for knowledge workers: Knowledge workers can work remotely using broadband networking at home or at a satellite office and use wireless broadband to work at customer premises. This practice can reduce the need for office space.
  3. Replacement of business air travel with video conferencing: Telstra claims that high definition video conferencing can replace business air travel. The widespread availability of higher speed broadband connections allows high quality video, which can allow companies to set air-travel reduction targets.
Last modified: Wednesday, 11 June 2014, 4:01 AM MDT
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