Australian Organisations Rate Energy Consumption Top Environmental Concern

New research has found that Australian organisations rate energy consumption as the most important environmental factor requiring management, ahead of other factors including recycling, raw resource management, carbon and emissions management, and ecosystem impact.

TechnologyOne (ASX:TNE), a leading Australian provider of enterprise software solutions commissioned new research through ICT research and advisory firm, Longhaus. The TechnologyOne Longhaus 2009 Risk and Sustainability Management Study surveyed more than 110 senior business decision makers, including CEOs, CIOs and CFOs, to gauge current practices in Risk and Sustainability management amongst large Australian enterprises.

The survey found that 36% of businesses rated energy consumption as the most important environmental factor for their organisation. This was significantly ahead of carbon or emissions management (14%), recycling (12%), ecosystem impact (8%), and raw resource management (8%).

The survey also revealed that 49% of organisations consider legislative requirements to be the primary driver for their organisation’s risk and sustainability auditing and reporting activities, a worrying finding according to Mr Peter Gill, General Manager for Performance Planning at TechnologyOne.

“While complying with legislative requirements is obviously very important for any organisation, there are a range of different factors that can also seriously threaten the long term viability and sustainability of an enterprise, and these need to be proactively considered and planned for.” he said.

“Political considerations, social developments, economic conditions, natural disasters and labour shortages are just some of the factors that organisations need to consider and plan for to ensure their long term success.”

“Organisations need to take the next step and move beyond compliance. They can move ahead of what is currently legislated so that they are sheltered from future changes to regulations and laws. This also means that organisations can take the time to implement systems proactively in a reasonable timeframe and at lower cost as opposed the inevitable high cost hurried implementation typified by a reactive approach to legislation.”

“Recent events and the current economic meltdown have shown Australians that responding to a crisis is only part of the solution. There are practical considerations to be put in place to be ahead of the game.

“The harsh reality is that Australian organisations have a ‘near enough is good enough’ attitude when it comes to addressing business risk. Organisations should be examining all of the possible scenarios and planning for them to ensure long term sustainability,” he said.

Some of the key findings of the research include:
  • 35 percent of large organisations surveyed have no systematic risk management program
  • Most organisations have only fulfilled legislative requirements to manage risk
  • 75% of organisations surveyed had one person solely responsible for managing risk and sustainability, meaning that any existing sustainability program was unlikely to have ownership from all aspects of the business

Chief Executive Officer of ICT research firm Longhaus, Peter Carr, believes organisations do not have a unified approach to managing risk and instead simply react to external events.

“Whenever there is a crisis we find a solution and then move on to the next issue. The economic disaster hit so we reacted with stimulus plans and massive bailouts; global warming comes and so we react with things like carbon trading. And the list goes on,” Mr Carr said.

The survey canvassed state and federal government departments, local councils, higher education institutions, financial services organisations, health and community services, as well as utility providers.

“Organisations need one single platform to identify, mitigate, decide and plan to make sure they are in a better position to see ahead to a crisis and plan a response – before it happens.

As a result of the research TechnologyOne and Longhaus have recommend four key rules for any organisation to build effective risk management and sustainability practices:
  1. Capture and measure information, most of which is already in the organisation. A business intelligence or performance planning product is important
  2. It’s not just legislation that matters – view quantitative and factual data in terms of how this can truly benefit the organisation. This, combined with senior management commitment, will lead to the real cultural change required to make a risk and sustainability program work
  3. Integrate the program into the organisation’s strategic plan and control framework, supported by policies, procedures, monitoring and review. This can help organisations move to a position where they are beyond compliance.
  4. Finally, put systems in place to ensure that this is a day to day cycle that is part of the fabric of the organisation, not just an end of year reporting exercise.

“By following these steps and having an integrated software solution like those TechnologyOne provides, Australian organisations can be better prepared for any potential pitfalls and not just wait for disasters to happen,” Mr Gill said.

The Global Risk and Sustainability research was conducted as part of the TechnologyOne Evolve 2009 conference in Brisbane.

The three-day IT summit has become Australia’s answer to Microsoft’s Convergence User Conference, attracting more than six hundred Australian and international CEOs, CIOs and ICT representatives.