Sunday, August 26, 2012

PRiSM: A methodology for green project management

When we began planning our Green Project Management seminar series, one question often arose: What is green project management?

We’ve had a number of great seminars in the series so far – yet we’ve never really answered that question. This month, we finally got an answer.

Joel Carboni of Green Project Management (GPM) and Mark Reeson of QA Limited explained to a packed room how to use their PRiSM methodology to make any project green – not just those in fields directly related to sustainability.

Why green project management?

There’s a growing demand to integrate sustainability with business practices, but a lack of a methodology to do so.  And sustainability and project management have for the most part remained separate. Green Project Management’s goal is to change that.

In 2008, International Project Management Association VP Mary McKinley said, “The further development of the project management profession requires project managers to take responsibility for sustainability.” GPM is taking this to the next level by making that more than just a statement. They’re not asking to change the way project managers work – instead, they’re adding to existing project management methodologies.

Why the emphasis on sustainability for project managers? Because we can be agents of change on a large scale. And to do so, we must have readily available and easily applicable tools.

The P5

That’s where GPM comes in. Their focus is not on the deliverable itself but on the method by which it is delivered.

GPM uses a new approach to sustainability, P5, which goes beyond the well-known triple bottom line to assess 5 measurable elements of sustainability -- each of which is measured individually and also together as a complete package:
  1. Social sustainability: People. This relates to labor practices and decent work, human rights, society and customers, and behaving ethically. 
  2. Environmental sustainability: Planet. This is the area concerned with transport, energy, water, waste, and materials and resources.
  3. Economic sustainability: Profit. This area is already of interest to companies, since it’s all about return on investment and business agility.
  4. Product sustainability: Product. What’s important here, from a sustainability perspective, is the lifespan and servicing of the product.
  5. Process sustainability: Process. This key ingredient in sustainable project management involves looking at the maturity of processes, as well as their efficiency and fairness. 
The Sustainability Management Plan – green project management in action

How can we apply the P5 to a project? By using a Sustainability Management Plan (SMP), which assesses the impact of the project on all the P5 elements and gives each a score. A weighting score to shows how important each element is to the organization. And this results in an overall sustainability score.

The SMP details key performance indicators in each of the P5 areas and includes an environmental impact assessment, as well as a section on sustainability risk management.

The PRiSM methodology

The GPM methodology is known as PRiSM, or Projects Integrating Sustainable Methods. It incorporates not just the Sustainability Management Plan but also other helpful tools such as a Green Vendor Scorecard to rate each vendor in a number of areas, weighted depending on their importance to your project.

But what’s most important is that GPM encourages us to look at projects from a different angle, and shows how we can incorporate sustainability into any project, by considering how the project affects each of the P5 areas.

GPM aims to make sustainable project management simple, though it may not therefore be easy. They believe that sustainable project management can help us in these areas:
  • Managing in an integrated manner for all stakeholders – which involves getting stakeholders on board with being green.
  • Aligning social responsibility with corporate strategy.
  • Rationalizing harmony with economy, compliance, and ethical responsibilities.
  • Managing risks to brand and reputation.
  • Integrating eco-design into product and service offerings.

How to get involved

The best way for you to make a difference is by working to incorporate green project management in your own projects. If you’re concerned about objections being raised to this, check out the whitepaper Handling Objections for ideas on how to deal with those.

Green Project Management is working to get sustainability included in the PMI body of knowledge. If you agree that’s a good idea, consider signing this petition.

And we encourage you to visit the Green Project Management site and get involved in their LinkedIn group. GPM welcomes your input and wants to share their method. Working together, we can all ensure that incorporating sustainability in project management becomes the norm.