Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for the Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation

BPM for Sustainable Innovation

BPM for Sustainable Innovation
15.06.2017 | Boris Borchev

In the CASI project we define sustainable innovation as “any incremental or radical change in the social, service, product, governance, organisational, system and marketing landscape that leads to positive environmental, economic and social transformations without compromising the needs, welfare and wellbeing of current and future generations[1].

From the perspective of a business enterprise, sustainable innovation means adopting strategies and business processes that lead to positive transformations and satisfy the needs of the stakeholders (shareholders, customers, employees and the community).

Organizations usually design and execute their business processes with primary focus on the dimensions of time, cost, efficiency and quality. As people become aware that they need to be sustainable in terms of environment or society, another dimension should be added – sustainability.

Business Process Management (BPM) can be defined as a holistic approach to document, model, analyze and continuously improve end-to-end business processes. In other words, the challenge for organizations is to achieve Sustainable Business Process Management (Sustainable BPM). Sustainable BPM requires alignment of organizations' strategy and goals with business processes and initiatives. Senior managers need to redefine and update their strategic documents with key objectives and performance targets, such as:

  • Promote energy and resource conservation;
  • Reduce carbon output from energy use;
  • Research for opportunities to include a greater proportion of renewable sources;
  • Establish an environmental protection program;
  • Introduce environmentally friendly products and services; and
  • Build relationships and engage society to achieve sustainability.

Today’s business processes are largely dependent on computers and IT infrastructure that affects environment in different ways. “The  total  electrical  energy  consumption  by servers,  computers,  monitors,  data  communications  equipment,  and  cooling  systems  for data  centers  is  steadily  increasing.  This  increase  in  energy  consumption  results  in  increased  greenhouse  gas  emissions.  Each PC in use generates about a ton of carbon dioxide every year.”[2]

Sustainable BPM means to maintain Green IT as a multi-faceted phenomenon to enable changes in organizational processes and practices. Murugesan (2008) offers a holistic approach to Green IT that addresses the phenomenon in four complementary paths: green use; green disposal; green design; and green manufacturing. They comprise the following activities[3]:

  • Designs and strategies for environmental sustainability including data center design and location;
  • Energy-efficient computing including power management and virtualization;
  • Disposal and recycling practices that are responsible, sustainable, and comply with applicable regulatory requirements along with pollution prevention;
  • Green metrics, assessment tools, and a methodology (ISO 14001) for effective use and practice.

In 2012 Murugesan added two more directions towards greening IT[4]:

  • Green standards and metrics - required for promoting, comparing and benchmarking sustainability initiatives, products, services and practices.
  • Green IT strategies and policies - strategies and policies that add value and focus on both short- and long-term benefits. These are aligned with business strategies and practices, and are key components of greening IT.

Murugesan states that only by focusing on all of the six aspects, total environmental sustainability for IT can be achieved.

The alignment of the organizational strategy with the business processes and the IT landscape means not only modifying and redesigning existing processes.  But it also means coming up with novel processes and practices that explicitly focus on sustainability as a change driver. And in this setting the needs of various stakeholder groups are constantly evolving, so they should be closely monitored. Responsible managers and enterprises should take a leadership role to achieve positive transformations for both the enterprise and other stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, partners, community groups and event government agencies.

The translation of sustainable innovation goals into operational terms and processes is a major undertaking that will affect the entire organization. It involves changing the corporate culture and employee attitudes, defining responsibilities and accountability, and establishing organizational structures, performance management systems and operational practices[5]. Sustainability should not be regarded as another management fad but it should be incorporated into the day-to-day business activities.

In conclusion, in the CASI Project the BPM aspect is partially covered as we have mapped and analyzed sustainable innovation cases related to business process type innovations and especially organizational innovations, aimed at sustainable solutions. All innovation cases can be found at the CASIPEDIA bank:


[1] Popper, R., Velasco, G. and Ravetz, J. (2016) State-of-the-art of Sustainable Innovation: Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials. CASI project report. Deliverable 2.1.

[2] Murugesan, S. (2008). Harnessing Green IT: Principles and practices. IT Professional, 10(1), 24–33

[3] vom Brocke, Jan, Seidel, Stefan, Recker, Jan (2012) Green Business Process Management. Springer

[4] Murugesan, S., Gangadharan G.R. (2012) Harnessing Green IT. Principles and Practices. Wiley and Sons


Relevant themes: Sustainable innovation, Resource efficiency, Environment
Relevant tags: Green BPM, Green IT, Business Process Management, Sustainability


  • Boris Borchev - TechnoLogica EAD (TL)

    Boris Borchev

    Boris Borchev has a PhD degree in business administration, with more than 12 years experience as a consultant in projects for business process improvement, IT systems implementation and development of e-government. He is a lecturer in courses for business process analysis and assistant professor at Sofia University.