Business Case For Green Computing

GREEN COMPUTING is one of those things that many people favor, but few want to work on. The old and familiar ways of purchasing, operating, and disposing of equipment are predictable and proven. Because the concept of "Green IT" is new to many IT people—and potentially adds costs for no perceived business value—anything that injects itself into a process that already works (in the minds of IT executives) introduces another potential for failure. This is very much the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach.

However, nothing around IT or the businesses that it supports stays static—no matter how much anyone wishes it would. Costs go up and down, capabilities change, employees come and go, and the legal environment occasionally bursts forth with expensive mandates. Green computing is not a matter of introducing change into a static work environment. Rather, it is one of addressing the latest variable to the IT business equation.

Not all change is bad. Reduced costs improve the company's financial health and may enable it to expand into new areas, providing new oppor tunities to the IT staff. Fortunately, Green Computing falls into this category. It reduces a company's cost of computing and the cost of the eventual disposal of obsolete equipment. Imagine the career boost to the IT professional who can demonstrate these benefits to the company's executives!

The potential impact of people on climate change is something that has captured the imagination of many, including lawmakers. Companies that examine their own impact on the environment can choose the actions that align with their business and their desired public image. As more people become concerned, legislators are taking notice and enacting new laws mandating "Green" actions. Those companies that ignore this popular movement are doomed to "crisis" projects to provide last-minute legal compliance. Last-minute solutions are typically an awkward patchwork of processes instead of a smooth-running strategy. This is not an efficient way to run a business.

A business case is developed to educate and persuade company executives to take a specific course of action. It brings together all of the relevant facts about an issue into one story. A business case begins with a problem statement to set the context of the problem (or opportunity) facing the company. Next is a baseline measurement that quantifiably defines the problem. The business case then presents what the desired end result will look like. This details the benefits and how the resulting process will function. Finally, it predicts a timeline for completing the project, an estimate of money and resources required, and concludes with the contact information for the people most knowledgeable about this initiative.

A well-written business case is a high-level view that ties the problem and its solution to published company strategies. In the case of Green Computing, this would be an organization's position on Corporate Social Responsibility. A compelling argument in favor of implementing Green Computing and a demonstration of how it can save money will make any company anxious to be a good neighbor.

Green computing has several components. The primary ones are energy consumption, disposal of surplus equipment, and the purchase of efficient equipment. Companies may wish to break the concept into separate business cases, each based on their own unique requirements. This moves the proposal from all or nothing to picking the ones that make the most sense.

As with any corporate culture change, senior executive sponsorship is essential to success. Culture shifts take time and a belief by the employees that it is good and necessary. Attempts at culture shift that are not sustained over an extended period of time gradually fade away and people slip back into their old habits.

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