IPMA International Project Management Association
8 October 2017 / 11:18

Sustainability and Project Management – Perspectives, Challenges and Threats (Part 4)

Reaching the 17 Development Goals of the United Nations require us to consider those high-level objectives during the goal setting in our projects. During goal setting for projects we define several goals. For a project we typically define, what we want to achieve at the end of the project, the outputs, results, deliverables, products or services. Certainly, sustainability should be considered during the goal setting. Stakeholders like customers or sponsors of the project will have their expectations regarding these goals and a sound process for collecting those expectations and incorporating them into the requirements for the project is a must for project management. In addition, the triple constraint define the time, the budget and the quality standards for measuring the so-called “project management success”.

However, this isn´t enough. The question is, what the long-term goal, the purpose, impact or benefit of the project is. In one of our blogposts we already discussed the essential difference between “project management success” and “project success”. Projects are performed for a specific purpose, a long-term or strategic goal, they are intended to have an impact  and not just deliver products or deliverables. While formulating the impact of a project, sustainability plays a key role. In one of our blogposts about social projects we highlighted the importance of achieving impact through projects. The target audience for this is certainly the donors, sponsors and other strategic stakeholders together with the society and the environment. Before starting into a project we need to think ahead, using the methods and tools mentioned in part 3 of this blogpost series. Project management success is like building sandcastles, with the next wave they are smashed. Thinking of the long-term impact, outcomes or benefits is what matters for projects and programmes.

And still, this isn´t enough. We also need to set ourselves goals for planning, conducting and controlling the project. This may be concerned with the people we engage in projects, their skills and abilities, their development and satisfaction at the end. For example, overburden the people during the project may allow to achieve project management success, i.e. stay in time, however the people could fall sick or be exhausted and never want to participate in a project. The resource utilization during the project lifecycle needs to be managed in a sustainable way, for example in the way we avoid wasting resources. It is also concerned with exploiting the lessons learned and making them available during the project as well as for future activities. People engaged in formulating these goals are the project team members, the project manager, the line managers deploying their people into a project and other internal staff.

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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.