Your project management office (PMO) needs to build environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into its core. Here, we’re going to be focussing on the first of these and talking about building environmental considerations into your projects.
ESG is increasingly being seen as a way to reduce costs and drive a business forward. It’s also important that you embed these principles into projects because clients and customers increasingly want to see care taken in these areas.
To help you understand how to improve the environmental impact of the projects in your PMO, we’re going to look at:
- What environmental issues can arise in a project
- Understanding the environmental impact of a project
- How your PMO can directly impact the environment
- Bringing a green focus to your projects
What environmental impact does a project have?
Every project – like everything else in life – affects the world around us. Global warming and waste management are two pressing issues of our time, and we all have a moral obligation to reduce our impact. It also makes good business sense.
The exact impact your projects and PMO have on the environment will depend on the industry and sector you work in. Some examples to consider are:
- Power consumption during the project and of the deliverable – using blockchain technology may come with an environmental impact, for example.
- The carbon footprint of items – while it may be cheaper to source components for a manufacturing project from China, for example, there is a lot of carbon expended on the import.
- Recyclability and sustainability – are the end product and/or packaging recyclable? Is it built to last a long time and not need replacing or repairing unreasonably often?
Making your project eco-friendly is about making the right choices at the start and throughout the project.
How do I assess the environmental impact of projects?
You need to revisit all the frameworks and documentation used throughout the project lifecycle to build in environmental considerations. You need to be looking at:
- Environmental vs financial costs – you will need to decide as a PMO and across the business what level of cost increase is acceptable to reduce environmental impacts and ensure the calculation is built into decision-making processes.
- Risk management – laws and regulations about environmental protection need to be taken into account when assessing project risks, so ensure that it’s a point to be considered in risk assessment frameworks.
- Procurement – in the process of procuring goods and services for projects, you can ensure that environmental issues such as distance travelled and the environmental impact of production is taken into account.
How can my PMO directly affect the environment?
Along with making sure that every project has a green focus, there are things you can do within your PMO to have a positive environmental impact.
If your PMO is enterprise-focussed, you will have a hand in choosing the projects within the business. You can ensure you choose projects that have a positive environmental impact and go with pitches that focus on this area.
During the planning stages, you can make sure the environment is included in project plans and charters. This will embed green issues into the project from the start.
As projects progress, your PMO can continually assess projects for their environmental impact. It will keep the project manager and their team focused on the issue through the project lifecycle.
During the project closing process, you can include an assessment of the environmental impact it made. You can use the learnings for future projects.
What do I need to change to bring this green focus to my projects?
To achieve this change in focus for your PMO, you can make small changes that will highlight the importance of the environment all the way through the project.
Evaluate all the planning documentation in your projects and ensure questions are asked, and issues are raised about the environmental impacts. You can even go as far as including environmental impacts as project KPIs.
As well as making it a risk management and procurement criteria, as we just discussed, you can also make the environment a measure for delivery. When a project is delivered, there should be a simple environmental assessment made and given to the client.
The environment and project management
Environmental project management is a whole specialisation in and of itself, but that shouldn’t stop every project from having an eye on protecting the planet. Building environmental considerations into your projects should be part of a wider ESG effort to boost the project and the business overall.