Sustainability in Projects and Project Management
Do we have a relation between sustainability in projects and project management?
Could we make a Definition of Sustainability in projects and project management?
We find that there is a lot of contribution between sustainability and project management activities.
Relationship between Sustainability and Project Management
We need to change our approach to doing work, especially projects, moreover, products, materials, resources, processes, and even our behavior need to be changed to be sustainable use. The relationship between project management and sustainability has been started a long time back in 1987 by the world commission environment and development, however, today the relationship between sustainability and project management is quite an emerging field to study.
Furthermore, some ideas about sustainability in project management have been written to argue that sustainability can be relevant to project managers, and project managers need to be in front of new changes and activities within an organization.
Moreover, in other studies offered by Mohamed Eid in 2009 in his book “Sustainable development & project management”, he argued that project management is an efficient area to introduce a more deep change, but project management processes and knowledge fall short of committing to a sustainable approach, he defined that mapping sustainable development on project management processes identifies opportunities for introducing sustainability guidelines in all project management processes.
Another study developed by Iris Oehlman is a new methodology named “Sustainable footprint methodology”, by determining the relevant social, environmental, and economic impacts of a project, this methodology challenges the life cycle of a project with the triple bottom line (People, Planet and Profit).
Furthermore, Richard Maltzman and Davide Shirley introduced another approach to integrating environmental sustainability in project management in their book “Green project management”. They discussed an extensive description of how project managers and sponsors can integrate environmental aspects into different project phases.
Definition of Sustainability in projects and project management
The definition of sustainability in projects has been introduced by Silvius in his book “Sustainability in project management”, he clarified six principles of sustainability that can be implied to projects and project management as follows:
Sustainability principle 1:
“Sustainability is about balancing or harmonizing social, environmental and economic interest”. Integrating sustainability in a project requires the inclusion of ‘people ‘and ‘planet’ performance indicators in the management systems. The project management methodology is dominated by the triple constraint variables, the triple constraint variables put emphasis on the profit ’P’ aspect to measure the success of the project, but the people and planet aspects may be included as aspects of the quality of the result.
Sustainability principle 2:
“Sustainability is about both short term and long term orientation”. The temporary nature of any project organization implies that the managerial responsibility of the project manager is temporary or short term orientation, but since the project deliverables most likely have an effect after the project has been completed or a longer-term orientation, longer than the project life cycle, a long-term orientation has to be included in the scope of the project.
Sustainability principle 3:
“Sustainability is about local and global orientation”. The global business the world is increasing and more projects have already globalized. The impact of globalization affects the project team, suppliers, or consumers, so the globalization aspects of deliverables of the project need to be considered.
Sustainability principle 4:
“sustainability is about consuming income, not capital”. Since the temporary nature of the project can create strong pressure for the project members, the use of material, energy, water, and other resources may be exhausted more or quicker than regenerated. The principle of using those resources should be considered in the processes and the result of the project.
Sustainable principle 5:
“Sustainability is about transparency and accountability”. Project managers are accountable for their actions and decisions to the triple constraint, however, integrating sustainability will add the ecological and social aspects. But the principle of transparency suggests that project managers need to communicate more with the project team and stakeholders about the decision and the real situation of the project and that will change from the information management and influencing communication perception to contribute and transparent communication perception.
Sustainability principle 6:
“Sustainable is about personal values and ethics”. The project manager’s ethics and values are related to the relationship of the project managers with the project sponsor and the society in general as written in article 2.2.1 of the Project management institute code of Ethics and professional conduct “We make decisions and take actions based on the best interests of society, public safety, and the environment” (Project Management Institute 2010).
Moreover reflecting on those six principles Silvius et al. developed a definition of sustainability in projects and project management: “is the development delivery and management of project-organized change in policies, processes, resources, asset or organization, with consideration of the six principles of sustainability in the project, its result and its effects”.