Fleur Doidge, reporter at ChannelWeb.co.uk, discovers a campaign is afoot to boost sustainability as well as more cost-effective procurement by adopting new software development standards for XML.
Pilot schemes using Green XML are proving that the data exchange standard can deliver billions of pounds of savings for organisations, according to the Business Application Software Developers Association (BASDA).
Ronald Duncan, BASDA green special interest group Chairman and Chief Executive of e-procurement software and services provider @UK PLC, says more companies need to adopt Green XML and the related utilities industry standard, Utilities XML, because they can help them achieve the twin targets of cost savings and environmental sustainability - goals still held by many to be incompatible.
“For most organisations, more than 50 per cent of their carbon footprint is the goods and services they purchase. It is now possible to automatically and accurately measure this footprint thanks to the new Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard and these software standards,” he says. “The carbon reductions are self-funding, resulting in billions of pounds of savings and will drive the efficient production of goods.”
Green XML was launched a year ago, and is now in version 3.10. Duncan hosted a recent BASDA launch at London’s Royal Society of Arts that targeted potential users of both standards, including chairpeople, chief executives, and finance directors from large public sector organisations and the FTSE 350.
He says the software industry was challenged two years ago by the EU to deliver greener applications. Cutting carbon emissions is more important than ever because nations such as China are now increasing their emissions faster than the EU is reducing its own. On top of that, the EU has committed member states to slashing carbon emissions 80 per cent by 2050 - a formidable task.
The new standards are the fruit of a “series of breakthroughs” expected to save large organisations money and halve their carbon footprint at the same time. “We have case studies from two pilots, one with target savings of £3bn and the other with a probable 50 per cent reduction in carbon footprint,” Duncan says. “The new software standards will now allow these benefits to be rolled out to all organisations.”
Dr Hannah Goodman, director of solutioning for NHS Sahred Business Services (SBS), told attendees at the event that being able to assess and reduce the amount of carbon across all elements and parties involved in procurement would mean many more jobs for frontline medical staff.
“We aim to save the NHS £250m over 10 years, and that equals 12,000 additional nurses. That is what it’s all about,” she said.
NHS SBS is working with @UK and the NHS Sustainable Development Unit, adopting the new standards to work across its accounting systems, to assess where most carbon is being emitted. Sixty per cent of the NHS’s carbon footprint has been found to come from goods and services.
Green XML allows business applications to automatically exchange transactions, such as procurement data, with carbon footprint information built in. When data can be gathered easily on the “green-ness” of every element in the procurement process, the NHS can make more sustainable and cost-effective choices about individual items, said Goodman.
“We aim to reduce the carbon footprint within the NHS by 10 per cent over the next four years,” he added. “It will take time to make the productivity improvements and change the mind set.”
The other pilot presented was from Nick Robbins, strategic implementation director at Findel, who said the firm, which supplies products to UK schools via three warehouses, had “lost its way” before he joined in April, and was held back by wasteful practices.
“We do about £100m [a year], about 7.5 per cent of what is probably a £1.5bn market,” Robbins said. “We take about a million sales orders a year, and 90 per cent of the schools invoices are currently on paper.”
Having data to analyse and help it encourage or even enforce e-invoicing will massively cut costs. E-ordering costs about 1p, first-class post 46p, he added.
Tony Bray, Managing Director of Intuitive Business Intelligence, told CRN after the event that its dashboards were already working with Green XML to save companies money through improved accounting analytics and processes.
“Firms are using our Intuitive Dashboards to do all this. The dashboards are totally configurable,” he said.