Online Resources for Sustainability in Project Management
Book review: The GPM Guide to Sustainability in Project Management
By David Simon, PMP
My Overall Assessment
In recognizing the frightening position we find ourselves in modern day times surrounded by inferior quality of workmanship, process, products, and etc. we often look for a mechanism by which we can right our wrongs from actions past.
When we take a look from a project management standpoint we can see our efforts have contributed to this very pitfall in today’s world where “cheap cheap cheap” is the motto, and cutting cost is the mechanism.
When we do this we fail to understand the long term implications of this way of “doing business” and we slowly degrade the very basis for which made us great.
This book, the GPM Reference Guide to: Sustainability in Project Management would be considered in my opinion, the Holy Bible of Project Management Guides with a focus on Sustainability in Project Management. It is body of knowledge by which we can move forward to fix the erroneous practices of maximizing profit at the expense of everything and everyone.
What the Authors Convey
By covering the fundamentals of what sustainability is the Authors are able to show what sustainable methods in Project Management truly are and how this methodology (Projects integrating Sustainable Methods, aka PRiSM) they have developed will be the world changing system of processes we desperately need in the Project Management Community (PMC).
By focusing on simply the Profit as our only bottom line, we in the PMC have contributed to a world full of projects which have been performed with the cheapest labor, the cheapest materials, and ultimately the cheapest practices acceptable to produce a service or product.
What the Authors do is show how a triple bottom line (People, Planet, and then Profit) can be focused upon in project managing which will ultimately result in a better solution for all of those stakeholders who we have the responsibility to perform for as project managers.
The most interesting aspect developed in this book is the Sustainable application to the Triple Bottom Line which they have dubbed as P5. P5 is a groundbreaking concept which focuses on Sustainability in regard to the People, the Planet, and Profit (P3) through the Practices and the Products (the other 2 P's).
The significance here is found in the breakdown of the Project Management Cycle being injected with Sustainability Metrics and Planning from the beginning (Front Loading); and carried through with a Sustainability Management Plan to ensure the execution is in line with the Sustainable Requirements of the Organization for which they are managing projects.
Why Project Managers Should Read This Book
Without a solid understanding of finite and infinite it might possibly be understood how this book could be overlooked for its value. However, in a day of such modern advancements and understandings about our world, it is hard to overlook the harsh reality that we are strongly marching towards. This reality of which I speak is a lack of resources such as clean air, water, minerals, and other such life sustaining necessities brought about by humanities careless waste and abuse of such resources.
It is not hard to observe the damage which we are doing to our world by implementing projects that lack sustainability metrics and guidelines. We see them in the pacific garbage patch that poisons our oceans, or the fracking for oil which poisons our water tables. We find it in the mutations of animal species or in the perpetual haze that overhangs most metropolitan areas.
For these reasons, and many more, we as project managers should seek out methodologies and systems which will bring back into harmony the people and the planet while still making a profit. In this reason alone we can find much solace in the comprehension and practical application of this book’s methods.
This book is targeted towards the PMC and anyone who is in an organization which employs project managers to perform project based delivery of services or products. For anyone who has ever had a doubt or a wonder about the way we do things and whether we can do them better in order to ensure the longevity of life on earth while still ensuring a nominal financial profit then this book is most definitely for you.
Gareis, R., Huemann, M., Martinuzzi, R-A. (2012), Rethinking Project Management with Sustainability Principles, Project Management Institute, Newton Square, PA. Forthcoming
Müller-Pelzer, F. (2009), Sustainability Management in CDM Project Activities: How to demonstrate and assess the contribution to sustainable development of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project activities, SVH-Verlag.
- Reeson, Mark FAPM FAAPM PMP GPM (2011) "Project Management Can Save the World", APM Project Management Magazine
- Gareis, R., Huemann, M. and Martinuzzi, R-A. (2011), “What can project management learn from considering sustainability principles?”, in Project Perspectives, International Project Management Association, Zurich.
- Association for Project Management (2006), “APM supports sustainability outlooks”.
- Taylor, T. (2008), “A sustainability checklist for managers of projects
The Integration of Sustainability and the Project Management Knowledge Areas
Carboni and Reeson
Applying green methods to Integration management can coincide with Operational Change Control which consists of the change management process and configuration management processes within an organization. Gartner has determined that operational change management is a prerequisite to providing high service quality.
This not only supports functional business processes, but is also enabler that functional organizations rely on, expect to be available, and expect to provide high service quality. These expectations cannot be met without Change Management Processes.
The Project Management Institute defines integrated change control at the project level as processes concerned with
- Influencing the factors that create changes to ensure that changes are agreed upon,
- Detecting changes and,
- Managing changes in real time.
These are the key processes that are often overlooked by the project managers from a Green perspective. However, it should be an aspect that is evaluated with each change and factored into the overall practice.
The original defined project scope and the integrated performance baseline must be maintained by continuously managing changes to the baseline, either by rejecting new changes or by approving changes and incorporating them into a revised configuration baseline.
Integrated Change Control requires:
- Maintaining the integrity of performance measurement baselines (configuration control libraries).
- Coordinating changes across knowledge areas. For example, a proposed schedule change will often affect cost, risk, quality, and staffing.
The Project Charter – The charter rarely contains criteria or gives credence to the goal of how green the project will be. As the charter is the one document that dictates control over the entirety or the project, it is the first place to start.
- It gets the project thinking green from the initiation phase.
- It authorizes the PM to formalize green processes in the Project Management Plan.
- If the Charter is used in a budget authorization, showing a reduction in waste is a good selling point to obtain the funding needed to do the project.
- It can base the project acceptance criteria at close on how green the project was.
Example: Your company determines that the billing system is nearing end of life and needs to be replaced. You have been tasked with finding a successor and implementing it. The current system was purchased because the initial purchase price was the lowest, which is the company’s standard operating procedure.
This is where you add the key objectives the emphasis on overall efficiency.
Some scoring items can include:
- Efficiency –will it free up staff to allocate more time to other duties thus speeding up other processes? Does it allow for new functionality? Will it reduce the dependency on paper?
- License fees
- Ease of use
- Hardware resources required
- Maintenance costs
- Upkeep (frequency of upgrades)
- Support Costs
- Implementation costs
- Training costs
If you base your assessment on these criteria, you will show the long term cost savings and improved efficiencies of going green, accomplish your project objectives and possibly change your procurement and project practices.
According to the PMBOK® Guide, Procurement Management includes “the processes to purchase or acquire the products, services, or results to complete the work associated with the project” (PMI, 2004, p. 269). In essence, Procurement Management serves as the mechanism to manage external relationships and access specialized support for skill areas.
The convergence of ISO 14000, which shapes your Environmental management System (EMS) and Procurement Management are contained within the Plan Purchase and Acquisition and Contract Administration process areas.
The Plan Purchases and Acquisitions process looks at developed or acquired to accomplish the project objectives. The rules of procurement are established and documented in the procurement management plan. ISO 14000 inputs as well as your Environmental Management System can be used to influence the development and interpretation of requirements as well as influence the selection of vendors and products. The inputs that are molded by ISO 14000 policies should be utilized to create assumptions, constraints, metrics and other criteria for making decisions and be incorporated into the plan.
The Contract Administration process monitors performance of any contracts that correlate to the project and overall completion. The ISO 14000 EMS can be used to monitor vendor performance against environmental standards.
The results of the measurements can be used to in change management to keep the project within the guidelines set forth in the project charter. The project team can also use these outputs to conduct audits and inspection to verify that project work is not only meeting requirements, but also meeting ISO 14000 requirements and are in line with your EMS.
Include in your requests for quotations or proposals that vendors and suppliers include with their response how they meet your green criteria.
A vendor may incur costs by executing an environmental management plan or be a
source of environmental costs because of wasteful processes.
- Pollution Case/Effect: Representing environmental costs caused by a potential suppliers.
- Environmental Commitment: Represents the degree of commitment the supplier has in environmental management.
Scoring on qualitative criteria will depend on the weight that is applied to each item on the scorecard based on the importance placed on each category.
- Environmental Commitment: Their overall corporate goals to decrease their carbon footprint.
- Strength of their EMP: How their action and results measure up to their goals.
- Logistics: How streamlined are their logistics. (Total fulfillment)
In Quality Management, PMs utilize constraints that will deliver the intended result. According to the PMBOK® Guide, Quality Management “involves determining quality policies, objectives, and responsibilities so that the project will satisfy the need for which it was undertaken”. In other words, Quality Management is accountable for making sure that any work performed is done so correctly to avoid rework. ISO 14000 and EMS convergence points are contained within each process of the quality management knowledge area.
The Quality Planning activity is defines the inputs and controls for quality assurance activities. Inputs from ISO 14000 and the EMS set the level of influence that the standards will have on defining "quality".
Quality standards will be used in the development of a baseline and as the basis for monitoring within the QA and QC processes. The EMS and PMIS systems will monitor thresholds set by the quality management plan and help in developing changes for the change management process.
Human Resources Management
HR Management focuses on the allocation of resources and managing them effectively.
This knowledge area distinguishes itself in its management of organizational resources (e.g., training, compensation, buy-in) to verify that appropriate people are placed appropriately and have the tools they need to succeed. According to the PMBOK® Guide, human resources management involves “organizing and managing the project team”
This associates developing the roles and responsibilities for each project team member and identifying the needs and qualification requirements to manage the work to be completed. These requirements are completed in the Human Resources Planning, the Project Team Acquisition, and the Development and Management process areas.
The primary role from an environmental standpoint in the Acquire Project Team, Develop Project Team and Manage Project Team process areas is to provide input and guidance for the areas of training and the qualifications of the right person to manage environmental concerns based on your EMS and the guidelines set forth in ISO 14000.
The PMBOK Guide© 4th Edition describes Project time management as “The processes required to manage timely completion of the project.
Included in this knowledge area are six processes:
- Define Activities
- Sequence Activities
- Estimate Activity Resources
- Estimate Activity Durations
- Develop Schedule Control Schedule
From a high level, trying to apply green methodology to the time management group may seem challenging, let’s dig deeper. Within each of these processes are inputs. We will look at "Define Activities" to further break it down.
Inputs for Define Activities: Scope Baseline, Enterprise environmental factors, and Organizational process assets.
To develop each of these, there are several tools and methods available where when executed from a green perspective a positive outcome can be produced.
Rolling Wave Planning: This method is used when information is less defined, and therefore progressive elaboration is employed. When doing so, work packages are broken down to the milestone level. When you have the flexibility to do so, consider the following:
Templates: you can integrate your green initiatives when planning and developing these. When you can use them from one project to another, you can measure the outputs and consider changes that can reduce waste from project to project. This can produce significant hard and soft cost savings as well as the recycling of tried and true methods from prior projects, making each one going forward more efficient.
Decomposition: As an input technique, breaking down project work into activities, is a common way to create waste. This is why assembling a good project team is vital and have a clear understanding of the requirements are key. On complex projects, to employ a green strategy by using decomposition is to involve the project team members to improve accuracy and reducing the need for rework.
Expert Judgment: This is one of the most useful methods when employing a green strategy. Gaining insight from someone with specific knowledge can reduce the time spent on developing scope statements as well as reduce rework.
Overall, Time management from a green perspective is to employ the methods to get from point A to point B in the most efficient and manner.
Scope Management includes the collection of requirements, defining the scope, creating the WBS, verifying the scope, and controlling the scope.
The two kinds of scope.
Project - work that needs to be done to deliver a product or service.
Product - features that characterize a product, service or result.
Interjecting green methods into this knowledge area is to place emphasis on the process and making it repeatable from project to project.
From a purely waste/cost reduction standpoint, standardizing and using tools, such as Pareto Charts to measure effectiveness from one project to the next is a way to improve the process of Scope Management ,which will lead to better products and services.
After a few iterations of refining your Scope Management process, improvement opportunities will be the outputs that help to streamline and make projects more efficient.
How do you get the ball rolling?
If the Project Charter includes criteria for green methodologies to be employed and opportunities to become more green to be explored, it cuts the red tape for the PM to put to manage the scope from a efficiency perspective.
On the other hand, if the direction to be greener is not based on the premise to be environmentally conscious but rather as a result of poor budgeting, limited resources, or unclear objectives, it could be a way to kick in the door to prove the value of going green.
Example: In the process of sourcing a new billing system, your project team discovers that the cost to fulfill one piece of mail to a customer is $.73 on average. With 260,000 bills sent on average per year, the overall cost of mailing bills is over $189,000. A change request is brought to you by a stakeholder to implement online billing to reduce these costs.
When a change request comes in, as a PM, we are to assess the effect on the project from several aspects. Those of you who are PMBOK loyalists are thinking “Stick to the scope!” "Gold Plating is a no-no!"
Is it gold plating when you can add functionality that sponsor didn't know was possible but will reduce their costs, lower the dependency on paper, and free up resources? (Refer back to the project charter)
Assess the feasibility of the change order against the resource allocation, budget, timeline, and scope and if the change is viable then propose it at the change review board. Remember, the project charter is developed by the sponsor and if you are acceptance criteria factors in efficiency then propose it, schedule it, and if need be crash the project or get an extension to implement the change.
Environmental responsibility goes beyond the scope.
Within Cost Management, a project manager develops the parameters and thresholds necessary to regulate costs for the overall project. According to the PMBOK® Guide, Cost Management involves “planning, estimating, budgeting, and controlling costs so that the project can be completed within the approved budget”. The three primary areas of influence for ISO 14000 and EMS are the Cost Estimating, Cost Budgeting and Cost Control Process Each knowledge area contains
processes and activities that support project integration with ISO:14000.
ISO:14000 and EMS inputs support estimating and budgeting efforts by providing guidance on resource selection and allocation. Knowing what work needs to be accomplished to comply with environmental regulations will help a project manager set the project cost baseline. Once budgeting is complete, the Cost Control process can monitor overages in the cost thresholds set within the EMS and PMIS and justify the need for additional infusions if the objectives aren’t being met.
In the Risk Management knowledge area, a PM will identify any and all possible risks to the project and establish an effective method to address them. According to the PMBOK® Guide, Risk Management involves “planning, identification, analysis, responses, monitoring and control” In other words, it is the PM’s way to address possible detractors, identify and develop work-arounds. The convergence point for ISO 14000 and EMS within risk management fall under the Risk
Management Planning, Risk Identification, and Risk Monitoring and Control process areas.
The objective of the Risk Management Planning process area is to define and document how the project will deal with risk, set tolerance levels, thresholds, reporting requirements, roles and responsibilities.
The objective of the Risk Identification process is to identify, classify and rank as risks that could negatively affect the project. The information that is captured in the Risk Identification process is used to develop an effective risk response plan and to define action items, thresholds and metrics for the Risk Monitoring and Control process. The risk data captured within the Risk Identification process can also be used to estimate the project impact and likelihood of risk occurrence. ISO 14000 and EMS will guide the PM through identifying environmental issues that can be resulted.
Within the Communications Management knowledge area, a PM will outline requirements for communicating with project stakeholders.
According to the PMBOK® Guide, communications management involves the “timely and appropriate generation, collection, distribution, storage, retrieval, and ultimate disposition of project information”.
With that said, Communications Management seeks to manage information in ways that efficiently and effectively communicate to the stakeholders of the project. The process areas that control these functions are contained in the Communications Planning and Performance Reporting process areas. ISO 14000 provides direction on which areas to monitor and how to communicate the information. This will aid the PM in developing metrics that will support decision making among stakeholders on environmental concerns.
The performance reporting process, in conjunction with the EMS and PMIS systems, can be used to monitor thresholds set by the Communications Planning process and help build the case
to justify change or corrective actions in change management.
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