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The Role of Project & Change Managers in Organisations Moving Towards Sustainability

The Role of Project & Change Managers in Organisations Moving Towards Sustainability

According to the United Nations, sustainability means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In other words, take and use what you need not what you want and maintain a balance.

For organisations to become sustainable, they must engage in sustainable development. Sustainable development represents the projects and change which enable them to become sustainable. It’s the transformational change required here and now.

The role of Project managers in this transformation change is explored here.

Brian Cleere Project Management Tutor at Cenit College

The Project Managers focus.

Project managers are instrumental in managing change in organisations (pmi.org, 2015). They are at the coal face of the transformation managing and leading their project teams, engaging with senior stakeholders to deliver the new practices, systems and processes, infrastructure and products to enable the organisation or indeed the state to change.

The well documented attributes of a successful project managers have traditionally included:

  1. A focus on communication, leadership and other soft skills
  2. Attention to schedule and cost overruns.
  3. Planning and control methods including project lifecycles
  4. Risk management
  5. Using tools of the trade (risk register, dashboards etc…)

Moving to a sustainability focus

A change of focus is required for project managers if they are to help drive change in a sustainable way. Sustainable change implies a permanent change meeting present needs without impeding future generations’ needs. Therefore, the focus for the project manager needs to reflect this and should include:

  1. Applying a principled approach to project management based on sustainability to include:
    1. Accountability – recognising rights of people and planet and rule of law.
    2. Decision making – supporting organisational ethics.
    3. Transparency – support open and good governance practice and reporting
    4. Value based – improving products and services to enhance our natural resource base.
    5. Social and Ecological Equity
    6. Economic prosperity
  2. Broaden the project constraints out from just attention to cost and schedule, to include People-Planet-Prosperity as additional constraints.
    Moving towards sustainable controls
    Moving towards sustainable controls
  3. Make use of a project lifecycle which supports better decision making, is iterative supporting sustainable changes and allowing for feedback. With attention to process and product sustainability, PRiSM™ fosters an environment that encourages lasting positive impacts.
    PRiSM™ Project Lifecycle
    PRiSM™ Project Lifecycle
  4. Utilise the P5™ Standard for sustainability to assess risks and uncertainties in projects. This is the most comprehensive and practical standard for sustainability in the world and its free to download here. This standard is simple to use and provides a comprehensive checklist for sustainability impacts for project managers.
  5. Develop and use other tools of the trade including a sustainability management plan and a robust change control procedure which includes a checklist for sustainability.

With a sustainability mindset developed from this approach, project managers will be in a strong position and do what’s right and just for their organisations assisting them to become a more sustainable and profitable establishment.

This article is based on content from the greenprojectmanagement.org organisation which is dedicated to making all projects sustainable helping to protecting our future.