How to Realize the Unrealized Green Benefits of Process Automation - Page 4

BPM and EA as three green IT initiatives

Green initiative #1: To reduce paper

In the quest to eliminate paper, BPM software proves to be a highly effective solution because it not only allows both commercial and government organizations to create online forms and documents, but it also allows organizations to incorporate those online documents into automated processes that remove the need to manually route and track paper. As a result, BPM eliminates the cost and environmental burden of paper, while at the same time, allowing for more effective governance and control.

United States timber industry statistics estimate that more than 16 million trees are harvested each year for paper production. More specifically, according to the book Natural Capitalism, the average American office worker is estimated to use a sheet of paper every 12 minutes, and to dispose of 100 to 200 pounds of paper every year. BPM software can serve as the common platform for eliminating paper and automating processes throughout organizations. Depending on the number of organizations that reduce paper use through process automation, the environmental savings based on those estimates can be significant-as can the cost savings.

BPM and the city of New Orleans

Take the example of the city of New Orleans. In 2008, the city used BPM software to take its contracts management process online. By doing so, the city's IT leaders were able to automatically process between $1 billion and $2 billion worth of contracts. In the absence of process automation, each contract would have moved by manila folder through approximately eight offices. It had typically gone from one stakeholder's desk to another's through both inter and intra-office mailings-often with inefficient tracking and delivery methods.

Green initiative #2: To reduce fuel and transport

Reducing or eliminating paper also cuts down on the amount of physical transport that is required to share information. The ability to complete and submit forms online eliminates the need to mail documents such as applications, purchase orders and expense reports. In addition, because BPM solutions also allows for the automation of human-intense processes and the movement of mission-critical paperwork (such as case files and product design diagrams) online, knowledge workers are now able to review, annotate and collaborate online. This reduces the frequency of business travel needed to accomplish group activities. Think of the savings from an environmental perspective-lower transportation emissions, less fuel usage, and less wear and tear on the physical infrastructure that supports these activities.

According to a recent Barclaycard study, a typical business person will travel approximately 7,200 miles per year by airplane or automobile, not including their daily commute. That's the equivalent of 3.1 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per person, per year. With a total of more than 200 million trips per year attributed to business travel in the United States alone, according to the National Business Travel Association, the total environmental savings from reducing travel by a modest 20 percent through online collaboration and process automation can be staggering.