How to Realize the Unrealized Green Benefits of Process Automation

There is no question that the need for environmentally sustainable business practices exists. Enterprises can proactively improve their business operations in ways that will have a positive impact on the environment, deliver measurable cost savings, as well as a long-term platform for ongoing sustainability and strategic advantage. Knowledge Center contributor Laura Mooney explains how business process management and enterprise architecture and modeling can help your organization to go green.


I was recently out to dinner with some friends, and the majority of us chose to indulge in sharing a large plate of nachos with the works and several quesadillas (and okay, maybe a few folks also ordered margaritas-why not blow an entire day's calorie count at once). But one friend ordered a salad and nothing else. While I am usually a very healthy eater, somehow the salad, in the midst of a place called Nacho Mama's where everyone was digging into nachos with zest, seemed less flavorful and fun. But, clearly, it was ordered with a healthy intent.

Were the rest of us indulging at the risk of our health? Or perhaps there were hidden benefits in our less-than-stellar nutrition choices that evening? Many studies have found that a key factor in longevity and happiness is having a healthy, active social network. And while achieving that does not necessarily require food, an occasional indulgence with friends might be just as healthy as always ordering the salad.

You may wonder how a dialogue about food and social circles relates to IT (aside from the fact that you go out for team lunches). The point is, that similar to personal situations, it is quite common for IT and business individuals across all industries to overlook the advantages associated with decisions they make.

The hidden benefits of going green

Let's examine the increased focus on green IT as one example. While most organizations initially viewed the challenge as a cost and resource drain, or as an over-hyped fad, some are starting to uncover the hidden benefits of going green. In light of the economic pressures many organizations face today, IT managers are beginning to take notice of the slew of inefficiencies and high costs they incur by manually transmitting information via paper and continuing to run mission-critical operations through manual processes across their organizations.

From the number of hours spent organizing and processing information, to the environmental damage caused by paper and fuel consumption, it is now essential for companies to reevaluate the effectiveness of their process models-not only for environmental sustainability but also for their own competitive sustainability.