Governments and businesses around the world have made sustainability and the need to address climate change a key priority. Several surveys have indicated that people have become more aware of the impact human activity can have on the climate because of the COVID-19 outbreak. For example, over 7,000 people responded to a survey by Boston Consulting Group, which showed that 70% of people were aware of the impact humans have on the climate.
Globally, the shift towards sustainable practices is growing, but how can it be translated into the project management space? In the article below, we will present how sustainability could transform project management in the future.
A greater understanding of project contexts
By incorporating sustainability into the planning process, project managers will be forced to expand their project contexts in both terms of time and space. The traditional project management approach focuses on the project itself, rather than the long-term and short term. To be sustainable, projects must consider both the local and global contexts as well as the long-term and short-term impacts.
Involvement of more stakeholders
With larger social and geographic issues a key consideration of sustainable practice, the number of project stakeholders will start to include individuals involved in environmental protection, human rights, and NGOs. Future project managers will have more obstacles, including successfully managing, coordinating, and communicating with a bigger group of stakeholders, many of whom will have competing needs and ambitions.
Wider-ranging participation is key for greater sustainability. In the future, stakeholders will have a significantly larger role in future projects, from project scheduling to risk assessments and project reporting.
An expansion to project specifications and requirements.
Projects must have key sustainability objectives and achieve certain standards to be called sustainable. Traditional project outcomes are often strongly reliant on the client’s or end user’s needs and specifications. However, when creating requirements and standards for a sustainable project, there must be an active examination of the social, economic and environmental implications of all project operations.
A change in procurement management, project inputs and materials.
Materials, inputs, and suppliers utilised in projects will be influenced by sustainability. Materials that are harmful to the environment due to hazardous and polluting chemicals must be avoided or greatly reduced. The durability, reusability, and recyclability of project deliverables at the point of decommissioning must all be considered while selecting materials and input.
Supplier selection will also have to consider the supplier’s environmental and social performance potential. In a sustainable future, suppliers with questionable ethics and a lack of transparency will no longer be accepted.
A more in-depth approach to risk management
Traditional project risks would constantly assess the impact on the project’s time, scope, and cost. Project risk detection will broaden to include continuous environmental and social hazards that develop throughout the project life cycle with a sustainable focus. Risk management and evaluation are moving because of the changing risk identification variables. To ensure a sustainable future, project risks must be assessed from the perspective of a wide range of stakeholders, rather than just the project sponsors and clients. Risk management will become more comprehensive and have a greater scope in the future.
Considering transparency in project communication and reporting
Traditional project communication is generally reactive, with project managers delivering only the information that is required. To properly follow long-term concepts of openness and accountability, project management communications must become more open and regular, allowing for proactive engagement and project-wide alignment. Project managers must communicate with stakeholders about social and environmental issues regularly, rather than just when they need to know.
Reporting will also be held to a new standard that incorporates sustainability considerations and contributes to the organization’s overall openness and accountability. In an era when consumers are wary of greenwashing, neglecting to engage and disclose to important stakeholders may be extremely costly to firms.
Sustainability metrics will need to be incorporated into overall project communications and reporting, and organisations must be ready and prepared to be exposed to larger community interests.
A broader approach to ‘lessons learned’
Companies establish their business knowledge base by archiving historical data and lessons acquired from previous initiatives. Organisational learning will focus on approaches to reduce waste as well as frameworks for appropriately proactive stakeholder involvement and management, with a sustainability focus. New techniques of implementing sustainability standards into all projects will become crucial as sustainability standards become more generally implemented.
Sustainable project management is the future.
Change and innovation are primarily realised through projects. We need sustainable project management for a sustainable future. Consider Execview for a sustainable project management solution. You can read about our sustainability commitments here. To speak to one of our experts, click here.