Greening your ERP

Greening your ERP

Many organisations around the world are adopting green initiatives to help make an impact on our environment. Green initiatives could be adopted internally to reduce the carbon footprint of the organisation as a whole or can be adopted externally by helping the community achieve a greener environment. With global warming taking a key place on the world stage, consumers are warming up to organisations that adopt significant green initiatives. These are some of the features your organisation should look at and utilise in your ERP. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list.

  • Use your ERP’s information system tools to track the progress of your green initiatives against targets. For example, you could track the reduction of the cost of electricity (and other power sources) and its consumption to match the efforts taken by your organisation to reduce electricity consumption.


  • Use your ERP system to track the amount of waste reduction in your manufacturing process.


  • Does your ERP generate pdf version of all documents and reports that need to be circulated or distributed? This will prevent users from printing documents.


  • Request your Vendors to transmit invoices and documents electronically. You could rank your suppliers based on their eco-sense, or their use of more green products. Use your Accounts Payable systems to assign your vendors a “green” rating and then track purchases against this rating to later report results.


  • You could do the same with your Customers.


  • Ensure your Vendor’s and Customer’s email address is updated into the Master Database in your ERP system. All documents, invoices sent out or received electronically will save on paper, print cartridges, envelopes, and transportation.


  • Does your ERP provide a common reporting tool and a report distribution system? Period end close consumes a lot of paper to perform reconciliation, analysis. A large number of reports are generated and distributed across the organisation. Consider a Business Intelligence or Reporting System which can generate online reports, save them, and store them. The system should be able to generate emails with links to reports or send reports as attachments to stakeholders. In absence of a Reporting system, consider storing all reports in pdf format into a Shared Drive within your network for users to access.


  • Does your ERP process trigger workflows that can transmit documents to stakeholders? Significant amount of paperwork is generated during approval process (for example) when printed documents are sent around for approval. These documents have to be physically stored because they contain approvals and comments/ notes. Utilise your ERP systems workflow features to send electronic documents to approvers for approval. All approvals will be stored against the workflow chain and can be easily retrieved.


  • Archive old documents – Instead of storing printed copy of documents and occupying physical storage space, can your ERP archive old documents efficiently (take less space, allow offline storage) and effectively (indexes archived documents, allow access to old documents when needed). You will have to check your regulatory and tax requirements relating to this before you decide to destroy/ not store printed copies.


  • Use portal technology to communicate with customers, vendors and external stakeholders. The system should provide visibility of relevant information to these parties. This will prevent the use of paper, postage, and commuting.


  • Does your ERP have technologies to communicate with external non-SAP systems and systems of third parties? Organisations have to often transfer data from (for example) front end Point-of-Sale system to ERP or between their ERP and bank servers. Your ERP should allow seamless secure communication with external systems.


  • Does your ERP vendor provide SaaS technology to host certain solutions like Portal? This will avoid the need for a large infrastructure and prevent maintenance cost.

These are some of the ways you can use your ERP to monitor your compliance and the benefits from green initiatives. If you have more ideas or implemented green initiatives in your ERP, please use the comment box below to share it with other readers.

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