Software the answer to cutting carbon emissions

As Australia races ahead of countries such as Canada, France, Italy, Russia, Japan and the USA to contain carbon emissions, Australian software provider TechnologyOne has configured its enterprise software solution to help organisations meet emissions reporting requirements.
Both the Australian Industry Group and Deloitte have argued that implementing systems to measure an organisation's carbon footprint will be a costly exercise for businesses in the next two years.

Adrian Di Marco, Executive Chairman of TechnologyOne, a leading Australian software provider, says that it doesn't have to be.

TechnologyOne plans to show that organisations can get ahead of the game and implement the reporting the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 will require both quickly and cost effectively.

It is, he says, all down to integrated technology platforms that can harness what organisations already record and turn it into meaningful information.

"Organisations already capture most of the information they need to calculate carbon emissions.  They just do it through a variety of systems.  The challenge is to pull this information together and put it into a format that effectively reports your carbon footprint."

"TechnologyOne has been providing an integrated enterprise solution suite to our key vertical markets for over 20 years so our customers  already capturing the majority of the information that is needed through products including Financials, Supply Chain, Works & Assets, Human Resource & Payroll and Property & Rating.  Combined with our out of the box Business Intelligence capability we are very easily able to bring this information together to provide effective and relevant carbon reporting."

"The integration TechnologyOne offers across its products is the key to its useful application in this context.  There's no point in buying a carbon accounting system if it doesn't integrate with the software you're already using.  History has shown that integrating disparate systems is inherently expensive and time consuming, and often not successful."

"Our customers don't face that issue because TechnologyOne's solution suite collects the data at the source and keeps it all in one place.  From there it's collated and analysed using our Business Intelligence solution."

According to a Gartner report, Australia has made the most rapid progress overall in the implementation of carbon reporting, tracking or management software in the last 15 months.

Peter Gill, the General manager TechnologyOne responsible for TechnologyOne's Carbon Accounting initiative, says as an example TechnologyOne's procurement systems can easily identify how much fuel is used in vehicles, the distance and cost of air travel, and the cost and kilowatts of electricity used.

He said that while reporting to meet legislative requirements is important, the approach of measuring and reporting on information retrospectively inhibits an organisation's ability to change its behaviour in a timely manner to address its carbon emission levels.

"What they really need to be doing is looking at the information in real-time so that they adjust their behaviour to start reducing their carbon pollution immediately."

"The exciting thing is that with the TechnologyOne enterprise software suite , you can actually see what your emissions are at any specific point in time, based on real-time information," said Mr Gill.

"That's where things can start to change.  Through real time monitoring, people can begin to actively reduce their carbon emissions."

Adelaide Airport Ltd provides an example of the way in which this real-time monitoring is becoming a reality.

General Manager of Corporate Affairs, John McArdle, said that the organisation is already using TechnologyOne solutions to measure and report on its carbon emissions.

"Late last year we started to use TechnologyOne enterprise suite to measure our carbon emissions."

"Electricity, gas, water, fuel and other relevant quantities consumed are recorded directly against the transactions as they are entered."

"We are producing reports using TechnologyOne Business Intelligence that apply the emissions factors to the information in our enterprise suite to calculate our CO2 emissions," he said.

Mr McArdle added that the organisation is about to take this information gathering to the next level.

"The next step is to work with TechnologyOne so that we can start to extract additional reports and data out of the enterprise suite.  As soon as information comes in, we want to be able to enter it into the system and generate a real time, accurate report of our carbon emissions."

"We've developed a carbon strategy and, as we enter the implementation phase our TechnologyOne software will be integral to measuring our performance as we go forward.  Hopefully we'll be able to influence and change behaviours by looking at the information we generate in real time."

Mr Gill believes that rather than waiting, organisations can reduce both their expenditure - and their vulnerability to change - now.  If organisations can get ahead of changing regulations, they can place themselves ‘beyond compliance'.

"If organisations start to measure this kind of information, they can see where there is waste and act accordingly.  The carrot is represented by the fact that they will be able to benefit from the cost savings by reducing inputs, e.g. electricity, fuel, water, gas, etc., and the lower cost of purchasing, warehousing, etc.  The message is not all doom and gloom; real benefits can be achieved."

When planning to take this step, Mr Gill recommends that organisations focus on four key principles:

  1. Capture and measure information as part of your enterprise solution, and not as a separate and disparate process.
  2. Integrated business intelligence is important to interpret this information
  3. It's not just legislation that matters - view quantitative and factual data in terms of how this can truly benefit your organisation. This, combined with senior management commitment, will lead to the real cultural change required to make a program work
  4. Integrate the program into your strategic plan and control framework using a performance planning solution, supported by policies, procedures, monitoring and review
  5. Put systems in place to ensure that this is a day to day cycle that is part of the fabric of your organisation, not just an end of year reporting exercise. 

"By following these steps and having an integrated software solution like those provided by TechnologyOne, Australian organisations can be better prepared for any potential changes to legislation and reporting, and not just wait for these to happen," Mr Gill said.