The following dialogue was published in the EDF Monthly Projects Newsletter. They have over 1000 PMs on staff and are working hard to integrate sustainability in every facet of their organization. Thank you for Dr. Ian Clarkson of QA for setting up this discussion.
Why have sustainability in projects?
The APM Body of Knowledge is the bible of project management. As such, its’ content is all encompassing and authoritative. But its’ temperature rises when it comes to sustainability. To quote, ‘Sustainable development is an area in continual flux and is rarely without debate and argument. There are often no hard and fast rules unless the work is in a highly regulated environment. However, any manager needs to consider it as a core aspect of being a professional and ethical manager.’ With this in mind, Martin Bishop invited two leaders in this field – Richard Sage, Transformation Portfolio Director from ESCS (Energy Supply and Customer Services) in EDF Energy, and Joel Carboni, founder of GPM, to discuss this hot topic.
Martin: What is your interest in sustainability in projects?
Richard: In my role I have a focus on portfolio management and programme delivery, enterprise architecture, capability and resourcing. I see it as key to work closely with our ESCS sustainability team to view all the projects in our portfolio through three lenses – People, Planet and Profit. I want to ask not only how our projects delivering using these lens but do the project outcomes, and the legacy we will leave, stack up as well?
Joel: I founded GPM in 2009 as a concept. We are based in USA but our reach is now across the world. Our services include two certifications, and PRISM (PRojects Integrating Sustainable Methods). This is our project delivery methodology and training offer. It has an emphasis on five P’s - People, Planet, Profit, Product, and Process. So we beat Richard by two!
Martin: Why is sustainability in projects so important?
Richard: Look at the EDF Energy website; it mentions how sustainability is core to our business. Our CEO, Vincent de Rivaz, has stated that sustainability is the overarching goal of all our ambitions combined. We should all be asking ‘what can I do differently’ and ‘how can I embed sustainability in what I do?’ This includes project professionals. In fact project professionals have a particular responsibility here, both in terms of how we work on projects and the legacy we leave.
Joel: I agree. Just ask yourself, ‘what do customers want? What does society want?’ More and more, consumers want to know what’s in a product and how it is delivered. Stakeholders want to know as well. We should ask are we adhering to what society says.’ (Martin: the horsemeat scandal and the subsequent sharp decline in people buying the affected products is very recent proof of Joel’s view.)
Martin: So what action can we take?
Richard: In ESCS we have a number of initiatives underway. One of those is to update the ‘Set Up For Success’ assurance check for projects that are going through key EEPW gateways and particularly those that are seeking full investment at Gate C. There are already eight categories for the Sponsor and PM to answer to ensure the project is set up correctly; we have added sustainability as a ninth (see fig. 1; draft framework below). We are also hope to make the people/planet/profit dashboard more visible to encourage Sponsors to think more carefully about sustainability throughout the project lifecycle, after projects have delivered and the changes are embedded in BAU. For example, looking through the people lens a question might be “how to cut down on travel and make virtual teams work as effectively as their physically co-located versions” or, looking through the planet lens “can we design business processes that cut down on waste”, or. Looking through the profit lens “let’s make sure we have robust benefit tracking mechanisms in place to ensure tangible and intangible project benefits are delivered”.
Comments / Proposed Actions / RAID ref.
- Are sustainable working practices in evidence across internal and external resources involved in delivery of the project?
- Will the project result in sustainable benefits for our employees?
- Are the estimating and planning methods used in the projects (eg for time, cost and benefits) realistic?
- Will the project deliverables support sustainable growth?
- Is there rationale for the project location strategy supporting our sustainability ambitions?
- Will the project deliverables contribute to a greener future?
- Are sustainability metrics embedded in project reporting?
- Are sustainability metrics embedded and shared across the entire delivery team?
- Is evidence of sustainability credentials being taken into account in selection of 3rd parties and measured throughout engagement?
- Are key sustainability impacts captured and managed in RAID?
- Are significant sustainability ‘impacts’ (positive and negative) reflected through the business case with specific benefit owners?
- Has the H&S strategy / approach been adequately defined and agreed by all relevant parties?
Joel: as mentioned above, GPM have created the PRiSM project delivery method which you can adapt to any existing methodology like EEPW. It incorporates a framework of activities from international standards such as ISO 21500, 14001, 26000, 50001, and 9001 with the goal that any PM can answer the question ‘how can I apply sustainability in my project?’ (Learn more about PRiSM here.) And our P5 framework (Fig 2: below) allows PMs to measure sustainability against the bottom line.
Martin: there must be challenges to embed sustainability in projects?
Richard: Absolutely. I wonder if we should run sustainability as a project (as we did with our Zero Harm initiative) to embed sustainability ion the way we do things rather than rely on embedding it as business as usual? Would a project give impetus to drive some of these ideas?
Joel: I agree; we see a lot of challenges working with PMs in how can get this sustainability standardised in the project governance without upsetting the applecart. One misconception is increased workload. Also does it align with how projects are architected?
Richard: making it real is at the heart of the challenge. I really like your idea of giving sustainable dimensions.
Joel: the guidelines are already set out in the ISO standards so I think the key is to engrain sustainability in project governance to embed it throughout the company. Did you know, for example, that it takes over 250L of water in the production process to create just one litre of Coca Cola? They were able to reduce the amount of water by 35% but only after sustainability was embedded in their project governance.
Martin: who wants the last word?
Joel: we’ve mentioned the big question – have you looked at your corporate website? What does your company stand for? For EDF Energy it’s sustainability. So how will you develop the project tools to show the value embedding sustainability projects has? And we can help! (And QA can deliver the training.)
Richard: the traditional time/cost/quality measures for projects are fine but can be used to avoid the ‘how’ we deliver. If we can get the focus on people/planet/profit embedded from the outset of a project we will have made an excellent start. What’s the experience in CIO?
Martin: I think we have the same journey to go on!
I would like to thank Richard and Joel for their time and input. I would also like to say nice words about Kay English, Beverley Lambert and Ian Clarkson from QA who helped set up the discussion. If you would like to know more about GPM their website is at http://www.greenprojectmanagement.org/.