Project Sustainability – Part 1: Communication Planning

A Call for Feedback!

This is a call for feedback from project managers around the world. I’m working on a sustainability project. Some of our focus is on things like reducing waste and reducing the quantity of resources used, among other concerns. What I would like to know from our international audience of project managers is, “what kinds of waste do you see on projects that could possibly be reduced with proper oversight and planning?” When I mention waste, I’m referring to the types of waste associated to “how” you run your projects, and “not” the waste associated to the products or outcomes of your projects.

Lets take a look at our projects from the perspective of activities performed. One activity in particular that is part of every project is communication. How does the act of communication use, utilize or waste resources and/or assets available to us?

To analyze this I would like to walk through some of the typical tools and techniques used in and around communication on a typical medium sized project with an international team or group of stakeholders.

A simple sequence of events that we build communication around on a project would be initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and closing. With that said, one of the first things that we do is hold a kick-off meeting to develop a project charter and introduce the team to one another. When you have an international team, the benefits of building relationships, report, trust, etc. can be massive.

However, what is the cost? There are many.

Stakeholders on our projects travel in cars, trains planes and ships. Every current mode of transportation uses an exorbitant amount of fuel, typically a petroleum based fuel. These fuels result in a large carbon footprint and cause a multitude of ecological damage. Additionally, most of the fuels that we use are limited, and we have no long term plan to replace them. The true cost of these limited resources is not reflected in our business plans.

Travel also results in a great deal of down time while individuals are in transit. This represents another area of waste that is not typically tracked. Nonetheless, we are used to dealing with the ramifications of delays in decision making, and schedule chaos.

Question: “Does travel require additional tools, not otherwise needed? Do we really need all the telecommunications tools available to us? If we worked from a home office, or simply commuted into a local office with landlines and hardwired internet capabilities, would we still need Blackberry’s, iPads, wireless laptops, etc.? Could we simplify the array of tools that we use and the infrastructure that we tie into?” I think we could.

Let’s continue our conversation in my next blog. In the meantime, send me your comments and concerns and practical experience around projects with respects to the topic of discussion.

Larry T Barnard
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