materials or product indexes. In considering existing tools and requirements for new ones, several overarching themes and associated criteria emerged from the workshop presentations, breakout groups, and discussion sessions, including:
• Integration of sustainability criteria for products and services
• Data management and cloud computing
• System integration and interoperability
• Encompassing the full extent of the procurement process
Participants discussed the enormous amount of data that would be required to give procurement professionals access to real-time information in order to make up-to-date, effective decisions. Integrating procurement systems with other systems—especially financial ones—was discussed by many participants as key to new tools for sustainable procurement. Many participants also noted that agreement on a standard language— semantics and syntax—is important in furthering progress in systems integration and ultimately to entire sustainable purchasing networks.
In addition, some participants pointed out that culture and workforce training are critical to ensuring the success of any new tools developed for sustainable purchasing systems. Sustainable procurement results from a complex system of suppliers, vendors, program managers, contracting officers, and procurement professionals. Some participants noted that making information and tools available at points earlier in the procurement process—not just at the purchasing phase—would allow sustainable procurement to be approached more holistically. Empowering procurement professionals to make more informed decisions was also suggested as key to making change in these areas. Pilot projects, training, and collaboration were presented as ways to build “buy-in” from procurement professionals and leadership, which is important in ensuring that sustainable purchasing practices and tools are used to their full potential.