Sustainability Initiatives in Project Management

You want to incorporate something on “sustainability” into your organization and you’re not sure where to start. Although sustainability is becoming a hot topic and commonly used phrase in business circles, most people still aren’t completely sure how it translates into day-to-day business.

I would like to propose a list of potential “sustainability initiatives” being developed around the world by organizations from government bodies to not-for-profits to Walmart.

First of all, we must agree that any organization exists to provide some type of service, product or result to the greater community, market or the world at large. Sustainability management is concerned with HOW the organization fulfills this objective.

There are a couple more ideas that we must agree on in order to move forward. The first thing is the idea that planning is good. The type of planning I’m talking about is business planning, project planning, initiative development, and management thereof. If you truly believe that it’s possible to make a difference in your organization with some level of pro-active planning and proper oversight, then the incorporation of “sustainability planning” will be possible.

Philosophically, you must also agree that it’s possible to make things better. When you look around the world today, you may feel overwhelmed by the obstacles we’re facing. It is imperative that you still believe it’s possible to make a difference in your organization and the world at large.

Assuming that planning is good and that we can make a difference in the world, let’s look at the management of “sustainability” by reviewing areas you may be able to make a change:

  1. Efficiency: Waste management and proper stewardship of all resources

1.1 Cut costs and increase profit margins by driving greater efficiencies in processes, business administration, financial systems, procurement, buildings and facility management, construction, information technology, manufacturing, supply chain, general logistics and travel, and more

These plans and proposed ideas on efficiency should be reflected in some of the typical efforts within the organization:

1.1.1     Continuous improvement initiative

1.1.2     Quality improvement initiatives

1.1.3     Business process re-engineering

1.1.4     Business process improvement

1.1.5     Disaster recovery plans

1.1.6     Business continuity plans

1.1.7     Risk management plans

1.1.8     Waste management of all resources and assets touched directly and indirectly within the value chain of an organization

1.1.9     Recycle programs

1.1.10 Life cycle management of any product created by or used by the organization

1.1.11 Carbon footprint management

1.1.12 Configuration management plans

1.1.13 Enterprise architecture plans

1.1.14 Governance plans

1.1.15 Business case development

1.1.15.1     Business analysis

1.1.15.2     Requirements development

2. Product Management: Proper product management requires expanding the scope of responsibility to include entire life-cycle management and chemical composition oversight, including any and all inputs, use, outputs and waste therein

2.1   The area of product management is changing exponentially around the world. There are new laws being created every day around the management of chemicals and chemical bi-products, from the initial sourcing of elements in mining or laboratory production, through the life-cycle of manufacturing and use, to the ultimate end-of-life conclusion through recycle or waste

2.2   This requires a new philosophy to managing products along with new processes, checks and balances, quality plans, waste management plans, governance, and policies and procedures commensurate with the context the organization is operating within

2.3   Organizations can ultimately increase revenues by designing and marketing environmentally superior goods and services that meet customer’s desires for energy efficiency, reduced pollution, and good health.

Larry T Barnard

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