WANTED: Green Business Analysts


There has been much talk about the expansion of BA responsibilities, with business analysts being expected, in many organizations, not only to elicit and manage requirements, but also to perform project management, risk assessment, budgeting and other activities involved in delivering software solutions. As organizations become more environmentally conscious, yet another dimension is added to the BA work, with the focus areas of IT projects being extended to include (adapted from [1])

  • design for environmental sustainability;Green BA

  • energy-efficient computing;

  • power management;

  • data center efficiency;

  • responsible disposal and recycling of IT resources;

  • compliance with green regulations and internal policies;

  • green metrics, assessment tools, and methodology;

  • environment-related risk mitigation;

  • use of renewable energy sources; and

  • eco-labeling of IT products.

At the enterprise analysis level, "going green" creates the need to analyze the business situation from an environmental perspective, looking into ways to redesign operations to use less energy and water, produce fewer emissions, and generate less waste. Business Analysts working in the IT space may be required to conduct audits of the IT infrastructure and its use from an environmental viewpoint, as a subsidy for the creation of a comprehensive plan addressing the various aspects of greening the IT in the broader possible manner. They may be in charge of investigating trends and concerns expressed by business stakeholders (including investors, customers, media, environmental advocacy groups, employees, etc.); new regulations that may require changes in business practices; problems and opportunities related to power, cooling, and data center capacity; business requirements and changes needed in policies on procurement, operation, and disposal of IT resources; and feasible green-friendly approaches to fulfill the identified business needs. BAs may also get involved in helping the organization develop a positive attitude toward green-friendly policies and practices, and educate teams on the value sustainability offers the company.

At the project level, business analysts become key players in helping ensure that IT solutions are aligned with green policies and practices, with the understanding that even requirements that are of value to a stakeholder may not be a desirable part of a solution if they are not aligned with low energy consumption and other environmental concerns. BAs will have to understand the non-functional requirements imposed by green practices, and determine the additional constraints regarding system operation, maintenance and retirement (e.g., disposal of hazardous materials) to which new, green IT solutions will have to adhere.

The role of a BA working on an environmentally conscious organization may evolve in many directions, and incorporate, in addition to the activities already mentioned, tasks related to developing appropriate metrics to track results and identify the environmental impact of IT operation, supporting the need for continuous improvement of the sustainability program, and more.

In the software development arena, green BAs will be typically involved in the effort to design energy efficient applications with the use of computational efficiency and data efficiency methods. In [2], the author describes how a simple changes in the search procedure (such as not searching the entire database each time when a much smaller search would suffice) lead to a reduction from eight hours to eight minutes to produce a data warehouse report, with clear savings due to the reduced time during which the large server had to run at near peak capacity. Other techniques, such as data de-duplication, can significantly reduce data storage needs by eliminating redundant data.

The business case for going green is increasingly clear. A Forrester Research survey in October 2008 of more than 1,000 international companies found that greener policies and practices for IT organizations were on the rise, with 52% either implementing an overall green IT practice or creating one (up from 40% the previous year) [2]. The demand for business analysts capable of defining and validating green IT solutions will continue to grow, and business analysts interested in reaching new heights in their careers should consider developing skills in this area, thus getting ready to play a central role in reducing the environmental impact and increasing the sustainability of information technology in their organizations.

Since the foundation of a green IT strategy is energy efficiency, a successful "green BA" should become knowledgeable on concepts such as as server consolidation and virtualization, storage virtualization, cloud computing, and power management, among other green-related technologies that can help IT to become more efficient, flexible, resilient, and environmentally friendly while economical to operate.

Online resources such as greenercomputing.com, greentechmedia.com, InfoWorld sustainable IT,cio.com green IT and IBM Green Technologies are useful references for business analysts interested in learning more about environmental sustainability and the technologies and techniques used to achieve greener IT infrastructure, products, applications, services, and practices.

By broadening their understanding of green technologies and practices, BAs can become instrumental in avoiding the adoption of piecemeal steps toward green IT that don't necessarily yield the desired results, helping Enterprise IT groups develop a more holistic approach to solve environment-related issues and make their organization truly green.


[1] Murugesan, S.. Harnessing Green IT: Principles and Practices. IT Professional Volume 10, Issue 1, Jan.-Feb. 2008 Page(s):24 - 33

[2] The Greening of IT: How Companies Can Make a Difference for the Environment.  Lamb, John. IBM Press, 2009.

Author: Adriana Beal received her B.S. in electronic engineering and an MBA in strategic management of information systems from two of the most prestigious graduate schools in Brazil. For the past 10 years, she has been identifying business needs and determining solutions for business problems for a diverse client base that includes IT, telecom, and major U.S. financial institutions. She works for ThinkBRQ, a NY-based IT consulting firm, and is the principal consultant at 2wtx, a small web agency offering web strategy consulting and online training for Business Analysts. She is a classically-trained pianist who overcame her stage fright a couple of years ago to play Bossa Nova at a Brazilian Festival in Pittsburgh, PA. She doesn't sing.


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