Thursday, 13 October 2011

Results of the Procurement Managers Green ICT Survey

I've finally gotten round to examining the results of the Procurement managers survey I circulated some time ago. The number of participants in this survey was the highest so far of any survey I’ve circulated.  53 procurement managers in total took part in the survey. This may have been primarily down to the survey being advertised on the BUFDG mailing list, thereby reaching 100’s of procurement managers. It of course may also have been because each participant was automatically entered into a draw to win a £100 on line gift certificate of their choice. Either way the results are extremely valuable to procurement policy makers and FHE managers covering ICT, estates, energy and sustainability.
A summary of the results are as follows:
Survey participants had an excellent background knowledge and experience in working, not only in their current procurement roles, but in the procurement sector in general.  Almost half (47.7%) had worked for at least 5 years in their current procurement roles with almost 30% working in their current roles for up to 15 years. 43.2% of survey participants had worked in the procurement sector for more than 15 years with the remaining,  more than 40%, having anywhere between 5-15 years in the sector.
When asked how knowledgeable of environmental /sustainable issues they were, almost 63% said they were quite knowledgeable on the issue with almost 30% stating that they were very knowledgeable on the subject. Less than 10% stated that they had minimal or no knowledge of sustainable issues, therefore embedding sustainability into an institutions procurement process should be done with relative ease.
60% stated that they were part of their institutions sustainable/environmental committee which means that almost 40% were not. Of those that were on the committee more than half (52%) stated it was a voluntary decision. This is very reassuring as it indicates staff are already dedicated to improving their institutions sustainable performance. Other reasons included being asked to join (40%), and it being part of job description (24%) again indicating sustainable concerns at a higher organisational level.
When asked specifically about procuring for ICT equipment as part of their roles in the environmental committee, 60% of participants  stated that they procure for energy efficient equipment, 40% stated they procure or tender for e waste contactors, 48% stated they examine suppliers environmental credentials and almost 30% stated they examine the supply chain of ICT equipment. 24% stated they did all of the above with only 4% stating they did none of the above. This indicates active participation by procurement depts. in environmental committees.
For those that were not part of their environmental committee, 47% stated that it’s because they were not asked to join, almost 12% stated it was because they did not have the time to join and 17.6% said it was because there was no such committee at their institution.  These “no’s” could potentially be “yes’s”. However based on the comments left as part of the “no’s” answers, as other procurement colleagues are part of the environmental committee so they are in fact represented in some way. Later when questioned about being asked to be on the committee, 75% stated they would join. The remaining 25% that said “no” indicated it was only because they felt they were already being represented or because of lack of time so no real disinterest in environmental issues exist. So all in all representation by procurement managers on environmental committees is particularly good.
Separating the work done as  members of environmental committees from their roles as procurement managers, almost 83% of survey participants stated that they procure for sustainable goods because it is part of their job description with almost 17% stating they did not.  Of the 83% that procure sustainably, they do it mainly for PC’s & monitors (no surprised there) but they also procure for servers, imaging equipment and AV equipment and to a lesser extent HPC’s and phones.
As part of their roles as procurement managers (as oppose to their roles in their environmental committees) 61% of survey participants said they procure for more energy efficient equipment, 22% procure for e-Waste contractors, almost 40% procure for ICT equipment with a smaller EF and the same amount examine suppliers green credentials. 22% examine the supply chain of ICT equipment while 33% do a combination of all the above. When asked if they were aware of the “end use energy services” directive, half stated they were while the other half said they were not.  This datum indicated that  the various aspects of green ICT are covered by procurement departments although not  be everyone.
When asked about being adequately provided with sufficient information on how to best procure for the most sustainable technology, 63% of survey participants said that they were, while 36.8% said they were not. The comments on this questions included; being restricted by time to attended workshops and conferences, their institutions currently working on this area and there being too much information to choose from, leading to indecisiveness. However 54.2% of survey participants stated that they have in fact attended green ICT training events/conferences and workshops, 50%  have attended procurement training events conferences and/ or workshops and more than 45 % subscribe to Green ICT magazines, journal subscriptions etc.  The remaining 25% do all of the above with just 4% stating they are not being provided with any information on green ICT.
However of those 5%, 92% stated that having access to greener technology is something they’d be interested in, indicating willingness to improve.  
91% of survey participants stated they are allowed to offer input into their institutions procurement process with just less than 10% stating they are not.
When asked about the use of tools, almost 64% of survey participants stated that Procurement and WLC tools are used as part of their institutions procurement process, 22% did not, and the remaining 13.9% were unaware if their institution used a tool or not.  Comments on this question included WLC tools being too complex and inaccurate to get a true EF, (a topic that is often debated) but the remains of the comments covered institutions either already using WLC tools or being in the process of implementing the use of one.
Of the tools used almost 37% stated they use the SPCE flexible framework tool, only 5.3% stated they use the Forum for the Future Sustainable Procurement Tool and its WLC and CO2 tool. 47% stated they use their own institution specific procurement tool with 26.3% stating their use another tool. Comments on this question included a list of other tools being used or no tools just using their own spread sheet.
However of those stated they were not using a tool, almost 79% stated they would be interested in using one. 7% expressed no interest and the remainder stated they were unsure. Comments given as part of this question included; the possible use of a tool providing it was accurate and easy to use. 79% of those that stated they use the HE procurement framework tool felt it covered their needs for sustainable ICT while more than 20% stated that it did not.
On the carbon emission and energy efficiency question almost 85% stated that they were aware of the related government targets with more than 15% stating that they were not. Of the 20 that answered “yes” to monitoring their emissions, 16 replied with exact figures, the remaining stating that their energy/ sustainable manager had the figures. This echos the results of some of the earlier questions that indicated procurement managers strong knowledgable of sustainable issues and their willingness to champion the cause.
When asked about suppliers restrictions, more than 31% stated that they are being restricted with almost 47% stating they were not.
Almost 22% stated that they did not know. Of those that answered “yes” it was predominantly photocopiers and printers contractors that restricted their ability to be more sustainable. The remaining answer options of PC & monitors, AV equipment, Telephones, Networks, server room equipment, HPC’s and other ICT equipment had an evenly distributed percentage of between 10% and 30%.
When asked how they measure value for money when procuring for sustainable ICT, 31 survey participants replied.  They stated that measuring the overall value for money of each piece of kit included; examining the initial purchase cost, on-going running costs, disposal costs etc. The items that lives up to the standards and specifications and is the least expensive, is the item of better value.
When asked what kind of changes to the traditional procurement progress they’d like to see made, 30 participants gave a variety of answers but most had overlapping points. Those points included; procurement managers being able to see sustainability embedded more in WLC tools, less complicated tools being used, an ease on the EU procurement restrictions with more flexibility to purchase from local suppliers, thus improving carbon footprint. In short survey participants were in favour of anything that would make the procurement process less laborious and complicated and would also promote and support sustainability.
Overall the survey indicated a very good background knowledge of sustainable issues from procurement managers and a strong presence on environmental committees. When procuring for ICT equipment the most important factors such as; energy use and the life length of a product are examined. This is not surprising as obtaining value for money goes hand in hand with sustainability. However, some of the responses indicated scope for improvement and frustration at the often complex procurement processes. The results and especially the closing comments from this survey will hopefully prove useful when rethinking the procurement process.  
For a closer look at the results of the survey, please contact me directly on

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