Skip to Content

Metrics, measurement and monitoring: How QE&T can contribute to sustainable IT

Andrew Fullen
Mar 22, 2024
When we think of the largest contributors of global carbon emissions, the aviation sector and heavy industry often spring to mind as the biggest culprits. Yet IT and the global technology sector carry a similar burden, with the sector producing between two and three percent of the world’s carbon emissions in 2021, according to the UN’s Environment Programme.

Thankfully, the sector recognises the impact it is having, and sustainable IT is increasingly becoming a boardroom discussion topic, highlighting how much of an impact IT really has on the environment.  

In our latest World Quality Report – our annual global survey in which we reach out to 1,750 organisations in more than 30 countries to assess trends and attitudes in and around Quality Engineering & Testing – we wanted to deep dive and gauge how far the ideas of sustainability and environmental impact have made their way into the Quality Engineering & Testing (QE&T) landscape.

Driving the sustainability agenda

Encouragingly, the vast majority (97%) felt QE was active or continually active in driving the sustainability agenda in their organizations. We saw 73% of respondents describing themselves as highly active, or key enablers in driving sustainability best practices in their organizations. I think such a high degree of engagement bodes well for delivering on the promises of a sustainable IT world.

For most respondents (63%), the priority over the next 12 months was to understand how they could accurately monitor and report on green metrics within their QE testing processes. Identifying this as a priority is undoubtedly another encouraging step in the right direction, but I think it will take time to find the right metrics or KPIs for most.  By comparison, it’s much easier to monitor the impact of an international flight than it is to measure the impact of a change made to validate the quality of the latest software package or application. My hope is that these difficulties don’t become deterrents further down the line.

Another encouraging trend was that over half of the respondents felt that the most important outcome to result from a focus on sustainability was the benefit to the environment. However, 21% of replies admitted they were only focusing on sustainability because it ‘looked good for the organization’. This could be a slightly ambiguous statistic though. For instance, in terms of hiring new skills, it’s becoming more important than ever to demonstrate that you’re a responsible organization who is responsive to sustainability and happy to tackle the environment challenges of the here and now, if you are to hire the very best talent.

Achieving sustainable IT

Our research leads us to the following recommendations for how your QE&T initiatives can contribute towards achieving sustainable IT:

  • Have a set of key KPIs or metrics that can be easily understood across the organization – regularly review your KPIs to ensure they remain relevant and effective in driving improvements, while rewarding innovation.
  • KPIs need to be embedded in the entire lifecycle, and not just in QE&T – they need to be included in strategies and roadmaps.
  • Sustainability needs to be part of the entire lifecycle, included as a non-functional requirement, tested for as a requirement, and reported on against the success (or not) of that compliance.
  • Know your green success factors and ensure they are part of your strategy, your education, your procurement, and your hiring processes so they become an integral part of how you operate.

In summary…

This is just a snapshot of the report’s findings, so I’d encourage you to request a copy of the report to explore in more detail. What is clear is QE can make a difference to making IT become more sustainable, but not in isolation. It needs to be part of an organization-wide agenda, with defined priorities and periodic reporting of targets.

I see the biggest challenge being the need to learn to measure and report new metrics and bring its existing engineering view to look at how things can be done better, and how its existing approach to metrics can be used. It is an incredibly positive sign that many of those who were interviewed are committed to making IT greener and more sustainable, but we also must be cautious. Greenwashing exists and there is far more to being green than being able to ‘turn off a light switch’ or report on your impact.

That said, anything is better than nothing – so any steps in the right direction must be seen in a positive light!

About the author

Head of Technology and Innovation | Sogeti UK
Andrew’s the Head of Technology and Innovation for Sogeti UK, joining the group back in 2009. In this role, he has worked with major clients across government and private sectors. Andrew joined Sogeti UK back in 2009 and is currently the UK’s head of technology and innovation.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *