Time to go green

Visibility of the entire supply chain can drive down risk and reduce business impact on the environment, helping organisations move foward with BASDA’s Green IT CharterGreen is an interesting word when used in business, often assigned to notions of complexity, tokenism and perhaps most importantly – financial cost. However, while many businesses have been perceived as unwilling to challenge existing processes and embrace greener thinking because of the disruption to current business models, it’s now easier than ever to build a green supply chain and actually save cash while doing so.
    
The problem begins at the very start of the supply chain lifecycle. CTOs are invariably not interested in green, because they are more concerned in keeping to budget and ensuring the business runs as smoothly as possibly. Also, the supply chain is invariably a small part of a CTO’s remit, and if the current system is working to an acceptable standard, why change it?

Work smarter

To move beyond this problem, organisations need to understand how business excellence can combine green elements, and how this can enable them to work smarter and be better informed to drive the efficiency of everyday business processes. B2B collaboration has a major role to play, specifically through a set of tools which vastly improve communications between enterprises.         Additionally, businesses can examine processes such as reducing or removing paper invoicing from their business. By taking advantage of next-generation automated Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) solutions, organisations can have a real-time platform displaying invoicing information, removing the cost of traditional paper invoicing and reducing the environmental impact of their operations on the environment.
    
Also, by implementing intelligent systems which can spot discrepancies in data, can enable businesses to maximise resources and deliver optimum efficiency. For example, why would a retailer send two half-empty trucks from London to Newcastle to collect one load worth of stock returns, when an empty truck returning from Glasgow could easily have collected it? Two less journeys doesn’t sound like an awful lot, but if we multiply this occurrence on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis, then the potential savings, both financial and environmental are suddenly significant. Many organisations are now moving away from traditional ‘order in-delivery out’ style models to incorporate new levels of functionality which address some of complexities in tracking and tracing data.

The pressure is on
Additionally, pressure on organisations to meet green targets has been extremely limited, although even that is changing. The British Application Software Developers Association (BASDA) recently announced its ground-breaking Green IT Charter, which sets out four steps that its signatories will take to help lead the UK towards a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2020. Whilst IT companies, including software companies, have often professed their green credentials, the Green IT Charter finally spells out clear and concise deliverables that developers will have to reach the required standard – these include:

  • Taking pro-active steps to increase their own carbon efficiency
  • Enhancing their software solutions to help customers become part of a carbon efficient economy
  • Working as an industry through BASDA to educate and increase awareness of green issues as they relate to ICT and business software.

So what can be done? Well, visibility of the entire supply chain can also enable businesses to better source products and raw materials, again with positive environmental effects. Grocers and retailers need to be aware that consumers today are much more focused on how and where products are sourced and the overall impact this can have on the reputation of the company.
    
If the procurement manager has access to a user-friendly system that quickly and efficiently details available suppliers on his company’s network, he can clearly see that he doesn’t need to import from China as he has a supplier in The Netherlands. The benefits are again significant, and ultimately very easy to obtain.
    
By taking complete control of the data within their supply chain, from end-to-end, organisations can improve business processes around provenance and where products are sourced. Much of this depends on the quality and accuracy of the data being exchanged, and the reliability of the system deployed. Web-based supply chain solutions that allow B2B communication and the quick and efficient  delivery of multiple-format data offer organisations the best possible opportunity to overcome procurement issues on a global scale.

Proving green credentials

Elsewhere, Gartner Research suggests that as this pressure mounts, by 2011 suppliers to large global enterprises will need to prove their green credentials via an audited process to retain preferred supplier status. The time for apathy is clearly gone. If ever IT managers were looking for a time to sell in that next generation supply chain system to senior business decision makers, then that time is now.
    
B2B integration and effective supply chain communication can drive down risk and also reduce business impact on the environment – all while improving visibility of transporting goods for more effective logistics management and even cost savings.

For more information
Web: www.inovis.co.uk/green_charter