Thursday, 22 October 2009

Are your Green Projects a sickly shade of Gray?

It’s time to get back to basics.

Green IT 2.0 is getting a lot more publicity but what is it? Put simply it’s about using technology to enable greener business practices. That means deploying IT in smarter ways so it’s used to enable further reductions in the total carbon footprint of a company. I read some Forrester research recently and they cited an example where Tesco has found IT’s contribution to their carbon footprint is only 4% but that it has the enabling potential to reduce their total footprint by 20%, which regardless of the calculator you use equates to what could be huge cost savings.

Good news indeed, especially with regards to the other elephants in the room – Climate Change and the ongoing Global Economic Crisis.

But what of Green IT projects themselves? Are they defined, organised, or delivered in a different way to any other project? And, how can these projects enable greener business practices not just to reduce a carbon footprint but to also increase business process efficiency?

Whether it’s green, blue or yellow-polka-dot a project requires definition, alignment and delivery against the overall strategy and direction of the organisation. Without this process improvement and efficiencies will not be realised and any reductions in carbon footprint could be countered by increased costs in other parts of the business.

So what do you do? Well, let’s start by looking at the 4 D’s of Effective Change projects…

  1. Distill the Strategy – In other words you need clarity. Clear alignment with the overall strategy will ensure a project is heading in the correct direction at the start allowing progress to be made, costs to be understood and managed, and disruption and disappointment kept to a minimum.
  2. Determine the Needs – Specify what the project must deliver and make sure those relate to the strategy. Be specific as the more descriptive you are the better. Be careful what you ask for as you will get it so make sure it’s what you actually wanted.
  3. Decide the Tactics – Plan, Plan and Plan again. Know what the components are, how they relate to each other, who is responsible for the delivery of each piece, what the measurements for success are, and what you’ll do if a piece turns up unexpectedly or doesn’t eventuate at all.
  4. Deliver on the Requirements – Take action and get on with it! As simple as this sounds this step is where the work really begins and these 4 Steps are repeated every step of the way. Keep referring to the strategy to ensure alignment continues. If the strategy changes the project must adjust accordingly otherwise the outcomes won’t meet the needs.
So how do you do all of this and still stay Green? With more and more projects consisting of teams of people and other resources spread across varying parts of a country, continent or the globe there are numerous ways to ‘Green’ a project. Some companies still hold the ‘if we can’t see them they’re not working’ view, which with today’s technology and reasons for Green IT 2.0 projects is pretty antiquated.

Make use of the technology and other resources available. For example:
  • Teleconferencing and WebEX. These tools have been available for many years and the technology is now proven and their use widespread. They’re important for increased responsiveness, reducing timelines and costs particularly travel costs, and limiting individual as well as company carbon footprints.
  • Add webcam or video conferencing facilities – adding these into the mix reduces costs even further with the added advantage of actually being able to see the body language and reactions of others even if they’re in a different timezone.
  • Non-company resources - whether on-site, remote or a combination of both you can augment an existing team when you need to without carrying the overheads. The experience you need can be located anywhere and potentially available at any time.
When considering your Green IT 2.0 strategy and projects don’t stop with the technology, consider every aspect that will be required to deliver that project including the project itself.

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