If organizations want to incorporate sustainability into their strategy and culture, sustainability principles need to be integrated in projects and project management. The purpose of this paper is to critically reflect on the importance of considering sustainability in projects and evaluate appropriate methods and techniques for embedding sustainability principles in project management. This essay is organized in four main parts. The importance of considering sustainability in project is critically analyzed in the next part.
Methods and Techniques for the integration of sustainability in project management are evaluated on the third part of the essay. This will involve practical examples from the workplace and case studies focused on new media projects, in particular, the development of games and applications. Concluding remarks are presented in the last part of the essay. 2. The importance of sustainability in project management The debate about the importance of considering sustainability in project management cannot be appropriately discussed without understanding the need for corporate sustainability and its drivers.
Project management is intrinsically embedded in the business environment and we cannot to evaluate the significance of sustainable projects management without analyzing the importance on embedding sustainability into business. Both go hand in hand. Sustainability in business aims to achieve long term financial success while contributing to economic and social growth, and reducing its impact in the environment. Corporate sustainability includes three dimensions of needs, known as the “triple bottom line”; economic prosperity; social equity and quality of life; ecological resource preservation.
Corporate sustainability can be defined as “ a business approach that creates long-term shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risks derived from economic, environmental and social developments” ( Dow Jones Sustainability indexes, 2011). While the issue of sustainable business, often referred under the “green” umbrella, has been the object of abundant literature, there has been little emphasis on understanding how the principles of sustainability apply to project and project management until recently.
Taking into account the pivotal role of projects in the shaping of products and services within organization, it is surprising that these to concepts- sustainability and project management- have not had more relevance in the discussion of corporate sustainability. As Maltzman and Shirley rightly question in their introduction to Green Project Management (2011, p. xxi): “Projects are where business ideas become reality, after all. Projects, by definition, use resources. Shouldn’t projects, therefore, be a key are of any focus on green business? ”
The business case of sustainability has the same multifaceted approach as its definition. The main drivers of green business and projects fall in the 3 main areas considered in the “triple bottom line approach- social, environmental and financial- plus an added area of legislative drivers. In the following four sub-segments we will analyzed these drivers of from a business and a project management point of view. 2. 1Environmental drivers The environmental sphere of business is related to the management of resources required to produce a product or a service.
The two main environmental drivers for organizations are to decrease the impact in the environment generated by harmful waste and to achieve a better use of resources. Sustainable waste management can bring financial benefits to business by reducing the cost of dealing with the impact of the damage to the environment degradation; with regards to resource use, the focus is on efficiency. The less materials they are use, the greater the positive environmental impact. This also applies to human resources and time management.
Minimizing waste has also positive financial effects because it drives costs down. Efficient use of resources and time is a vital part of project management, it has been suggested (Maltzman, Shirley 2011) that the discipline of project management always has been concerned on how to efficiently use resources even if that concern did not come from a sustainability background. Good project managers will always try to reduce cost and use resources in the most efficient manner.
The only thing that is missing is to add that environmental layer to it. As Gill Friend clearly outline on his book The Truth About Green Business (2009) that sustainable business are not just about the environment, it presents a whole new way of seeing business and it brings a new range of direct opportunities to make money. There is an increasing social interest on sustainability; therefore, there is an increasing demand on products and services that take sustainability into account. 2. 2Social drivers
The management of corporate social sustainability is more widely known as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Two Tomorrows (2009) explains that CSR is about “how businesses align their values and behaviour with the expectations and needs of stakeholders – not just customers and investors, but also employees, suppliers, communities, regulators, special interest groups and society as a whole. “ There are many business benefits that can be achieved by taking an ethical and socially responsible approach within the organization.
It could help increase brand reputation and value within its stakeholders. Intensive research over 3 year covering 300 firms (Hillman, Kleim, 2001) concluded that investing in stakeholder management may be complementary to shareholder value creation and may indeed provide a basis for competitive advantage as important resources and capabilities may be created that differentiate a firm from competitors. As Maltzman and Shirley (2011, p. 3-25) explain that corporate social responsibility is an integral part of project management. Project managers are at the forefront of business activities and at the leading edge of change within organizations so “who better to emphasize CSR, particularly if it isn’t in the corporations DNA? ”. 2. 3Economic drivers When we talk about economic sustainability we are not only talking about financial capital or tangible capital; economic sustainability it also takes into account intangible capital such as reputation.
Tangible effects could be the cost reduction achieved through improved environmental, health and safety performance or revenue increases due to a raise on sales caused by the market opportunities for sustainable products and services. Intangible effects referred to in the figure below (Salzmann et. al. ) as value constructs, do no improve the revenue per se, but they do have significant positive effects that can, indeed, be utilize to achieve financial gains to organizations. The same principles can be applied to project management. Figure 1: Systemization of value drivers and value constructs (Salzmann et al. 2. 4Legal drivers From the facts presented in the previous sections, one might conclude that they create a sufficient business case for sustainability on their own accord. However legislation is still one of the key drivers for organizations to incorporate green business practices. While some voices have raise the financial burden that following this legislations can bring to companies, numerous studies (Greenstone, List and Syverson, 2010; Goodstein, 1994; Jaffe et al. , 1995; Meyer, 1995) have found these economic effects are limited in scope and duration and are fewer in number than previously believed.
Moreover it has been empirically demonstrated (Meyer, 1995) that complying with legislations contributes to cost savings by avoiding the financial penalties for not complying and, in some case, by achieving incentives. Regulation can fuel innovation that improve productivity, increase efficiency, and provide substantial cost savings 3. Sustainable game development projects In this section we will evaluate different methods and techniques that help project managers to incorporate sustainability in their projects. Practical examples and tools will be provided focused in the area of games software development.
I have chosen this industry not only because we can supplement the research with useful personal work experience, but more importantly because a lot of the discussion on sustainable project manager has been centred in the type of project and we believe that sustainability considerations can and must be embedded in the PM cycle of any project. 3. 1Methods for sustainable project management 3. 1. 1Lean games development: an Agile approach As we have seen in previous section, sustainability principles talk about reducing waste and increasing resource efficiency and understanding stakeholders to drive value.
Poppendieck explains (2003) how lean thinking is based on a deep understanding on what it adds value to the project and to the customer, the importance of rapid flow and using the teams capabilities to their best potential, in other words lean thinking is all about sustainability. While lean thinking has its origin in manufacturing, it also can be applied to other industries. In the world of software development, that includes games software, Agile methodologies provide a new framework for the application of lean thinking to software development projects.
Lightweight software development methods started to appear in the mid-1970s as a reaction to the inefficiency of the traditional methodology in software development. These are now typically referred to as agile methodologies, after the Agile Manifesto was published in 2001. There are many correspondences between Lean thinking and Agile. David Harvey concludes his essay Lean, Agile by saying : “the insight of agile, in getting back to fundamentals of how we can work together to deliver things of human as well as commercial value, is compelling; the thrill of lean lies in the discovery that we are not alone. Understanding lean principles and applying agile methodologies will help project managers to incorporate sustainability to software and games development projects. 3. 1. 2Life cycle thinking: It is not over until long after is over Essential to successfully relate sustainability to project management is to understand the cradle to crate philosophy, and to apply sustainability to project life cycle, from the project beginning through closure and beyond. The project life cycle of sustainability should include another phase after the project completion.
It can be defined as the complete cycle of a project that includes not only the beginning of the project through to implementation, but also beyond the defined parameters of the projects (Maltzman, Shirley 2011). Dick and Naumann (2010) proposed a definition of green software development that applies the principles of life cycle thinking and that can be also applied to Games Development (GD): “Green and Sustainable Software Engineering is the art of developing green and sustainable software with a green and sustainable software engineering process.