e-delivery team on green IT procurement

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As the worlds Green IT frenzy continues, e-procurement specialist Peter Robbins talks to key members of the Department for Work and Pensions EDT, Delivery and Transformation Group Chris Haynes Director and Damien Kennedy, head of business partnerships.

Where do you see green IT at the moment?

CH: There is a lot of talk and what appears to be little understanding of what genuine green IT actually means.  This is quite fundamental going forwards as if end users, buyers and decision makers dont understand the fundamentals then how can we look at implementing standards across the public sector?  Many operators are quite rightly becoming very excited about the latest low voltage products but if those products have traveled millions of miles, passed through four warehouses and endured thousands of road miles inside OTT packing, then their green credentials are considerably weakened.

There needs to be greater definition around green IT, its more than just saving energy and reducing carbon footprint, although this is a primary goal, its actually about looking at elements like intrinsically recycling core parts of products.  This starts in the supply chain and manufacturing.  Decision makers now need to engross themselves in this level of consideration if we are all to work towards a bigger picture of implementing standards as part of a best practice approach to buying and using IT.  Without this level of understanding how can a buyer intuitively consider the value of product A over product B in terms of meeting current criteria within the green IT agenda for more sustainable business.  Bespoke product is being manufactured specifically to meet the green brief but unless you understand how and where it has come from how are you to make an informed decision.  Green IT forms a small part of a bigger sustainability picture ensuring a better quality of life for everyone.  

What do you feel are the key priorities?

DK: Education, understanding, dissemination of information and procuring as well as using greener IT that has passed through a sustainable supply chain.

The e-Delivery Teams current focus is on opening channels of communication to help us acknowledge more sustainable approaches across government.  We are set to launch a thematic program that provides a facility for suppliers and partners to showcase and demonstrate their capabilities for operating within the green IT agenda.

CH: Transfer of knowledge is very important and independent web sites like destinationgreenIT.com offer a central aggregated news channel that decision makers need to tap into for the very latest news, information and opinions from every corner of the IT marketplace.  

The IT marketplace is well advanced in providing ever more efficient, green and sustainable products but a key priority now is getting procurement of greener IT in line.  This means solutions that save time, reduce the amount of paper used during the RFQ process, offer granular levels of green data next to every products spec and ultimately offer up all the detail a buyer needs to ensure they are extending the reach of their IT budget at the same time as meeting any government priorities.  Solutions that offer three quotes to eliminate the need for timely supplier ring rounds and manual comparison of best price and availability.  

To become more sustainable, this means shortening the supply chain ie. the time it takes from product design and manufacture to point of delivery.  Solutions do exist that help manufacturers get product to the market place quicker and easier as well as offering buyers the chance to see when these new products hit the marketplace.  Its ultimately about connecting people better through a shared approach.

Within the e-Delivery Team we are working with partners like Probrand, which have been working hard to get the best priced products to buyers in the shortest possible time whilst providing as much detail as possible on a product by product basis.  Green IT is here and now, so is green procurement but people need to become alive to it.   

What do you see as the future of green IT?

CH: It needs to start from the ground up, that means the fundamental design of IT, the materials building in recyclable elements that could ultimately means that any IT product is 100% recyclable.  The supply chain also needs to move on, both in terms of management of the buying process, suppliers and delivery as well as the actual packaging in which product is supplied.  Far better to have recyclable packaging or better still no packaging at all than huge amounts of wastage.  

For government, green ITs future resides in driving through consistent standards that operators can work from, increasing understanding and education of buyers so they can more effectively scrutinise whether a supplier/manufacturer/product is in fact green and matches current sustainable policy application.

Where do you see procurement sitting within the future green IT agenda?

CH: At the top.  We have manufacturers developing more efficient low energy carbon less products but shortening and simplifying the entire procurement of that product will have a profound effect on more sustainable ways of working.  Knowledge and understanding are at the heart of kick starting that process.  There needs to be a dynamic shift in how people are now looking at the green IT debate, that means a consideration of every aspect of product, the supply chain it has passed through and ultimately delivery and operation.  True green IT scores well in every one of those boxes and procurement is clearly a major element of that network. 

DK: To that end, at the e-Delivery Team we have an Innovation Showcase service in Warrington that is designed to expose to the public sector innovative technology from large and even very small companies that can add value to Government.  An example is Sheffield based SME Very PC and its low energy products.  Our Showcase will enable decision makers in government to assess the added value innovative technology can bring in meeting the challenges government has in reducing carbon footprint, and providing a more cost effective public service to its customers.

We are constantly looking at how we can develop, in partnership with our suppliers, a mechanism through which they can come closer to buyers and procurement decision makers in government to both shorten the supply chain and facilitate exchange of green information for a more green aware purchasing decision.

Peter Robbins is MD of Probrand

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