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Reference and guide to SFIA version 7. Framework status: Current standard.

#42 Revisit the need for the 4 Sustainability skills: change request accepted

In 2010 - 4 sustainability skills were added to SFIA version 4 to create SFIA 4G. This should be revisited with 2 key lines of inquiry. 1 - Should sustainability been seen as a standalone set of skills - or can it be adequately covered in other specific skills? 2 - Do we need 4 separate skills?

The attached document from 2010 explains the rationale for introducing these 4 skills.

The four skills are:

  • SUST Sustainability strategy (in Strategy and architecture)
  • SUMI Sustainability management for IT (in Strategy and architecture)
  • SUAS Sustainability assessment (in Change and Transformation)
  • SUEN Sustainability engineering (in Development and implementation)

The document states:

"in the management of sustainability the inclusion of four new skills will help incorporate sustainability thinking into the mainstream. "

One of the principles of SFIA is to reflect skills seen in the "real world of work" - do the 4 sustainable skills pass that test?

My personal experience is that take up of these skills in most organisations and by individual IT professionals is either non-existent or negligible. Anecodotal feedback from other SFIA consultants is the same.

Are there any training, qualifcations etc which rely on these skills?

Download: SFIA4G_sustainability_skills.pdf (997.1KB)

Attached to Sustainability


What we decided

Accepted. The proposals to rationalise needs to ensure other parts of SFIA cover the content satsifactorily.

What we changed


  • Retire SUMI, SUAS and SUEN, and update SUST, renaming it "Sustainability".

Sustainability assessment SUAS

  • Sustainability assessment is already covered in CORE as the overall description includes "sustainability".
  • Retire SUAS and as a duplication for CORE
  • ITMG already covers sustainability, so could be argued that it covers some of the ground of SUMI. EMRG mentions sustainiability, so does BUAN, DESN, HWDE, SLMO, ASMG, CPMG, ITOP, DCMA, QUMG, and CORE - and I don't think the skills are destinct enough to warrant separate ones. We could be accused on over-generalising, but we're just not finding evidence of these being practiced as distinct skills - so we should remove SUMI, SUAS and SUEN, and retain an updated version of SUST, renaming it "Sustainability".

Providing advice aligned to SUST level 5

Influence on policy and stratgy is covered by generic responsibility for influence at level 6, so doesn't need to be repeated in SUST and is not usually aligned to SFIA level 5 descriptions anyway.

Sustainabilty enginnering (SUEN) and Sustainability management (SUMI)

  • ITMG already covers sustainability and can be used covers the responsibilities of SUMI in a way that reflects the industry norms (ie that manages have sustainability as one of their responsibilities not their only responsibility)
  • Sustainability mentioned explicitly in EMRG, BUAN, DESN, HWDE, SLMO, ASMG, CPMG, ITOP, DCMA, QUMG, as well as CORE. Within the existing SFIA user base there is no evidence that the skills are distinct enough to warrant separate ones.

John Godsell says:
Oct 16, 2017 10:09 AM

I tend to agree. Perhaps generics could be adapted to include?

Andy Thomson says:
Nov 21, 2017 11:49 AM

In 6 years I've used one of the Sustainability skills (SUMI), just once, which was for the role of a Data Centre Facilities manager. That is a role rarely found alongside other IT / Business Change roles, which is why I suspect it hasn't occurred more often.
In 2016 BSMimpact conducted a survey of SFIA skills usage over the first whole year of v6, which showed that SUST, SUMI, SUAS and SUEN featured, uniquely, zero times in anyone's assessment. (Even SFEN featured once). It was noted that, while of underlying importance, "It appears that sustainability skills are not at the top of anyone's agenda".
I recall the Sustainability skills were included when "Green IT" was a popular idea (the BCS was launching a certificate in Green IT at the time, which is now I believe the "Certificate in energy and cost management").
I agree that the spirit of these skills should not be lost but should be included in the description of other skills, such as DCMA and HWDE.

Andy Thomson says:
Nov 21, 2017 11:52 AM

As more IT infrastructure moves to the Cloud, the environmental factors are less significant to SFIA user organisations.

Ian Seward says:
Nov 21, 2017 01:29 PM

Tend to agree ... it seems overloaded for most SFIA users but what about the organisations that do all the data centres.

Strikes me that we should have this in there somewhere but that one skill might be sufficient?

Think there might be some place in the Generics too but we must be careful not to overload them as is.

Adam Turner says:
Apr 10, 2018 01:36 PM

I've added another change request, apologies if I am not following process. I need to raise some concern over the reduction of the practical skills for sustainability management to retain the single strategy role. While I agree the impact of managing Sustainability concerns such as climate change, material security, REE, disposal, energy reduction, social impact, slave labour etc are best mitigated in the strategy sphere we also need specific skills in assessing this policy/direction/strategy. In the same we that ICT organisations have quality, safety, security, accessibility, capacity...I work with a number of people who complete, and solely complete, sustainability assessments on ICT designs and procurements. The need to quantify any risk and inform design and procurement options can only be done through assessment and that is what I believe SUAS provided. So in summary, retain SUST and SUAS as developing skills of increasing importance and complexity. SUMI and SUEN I agree have become BAU.

C Pattinson says:
Apr 13, 2018 10:59 AM

The line of argument seems to be "sustainablity skills are not being used, therefore we should reduce the emphasis given to them in SFIA".
Surely SFIA has a role in developing the skills that *should* be generally applied - leading not following.
I support Adam Turner's suggestion - these skills should seen as of increasing importance.