Project Management and Sustainability Relationship

Benefits of Project Management

The recent researches indicate that project management is an effective approach to contribute to the organisation’s progress and development because of such features of project management as the focus on the project scope to achieve the goal, project budget, and project time (Jonas 2010; Lappe & Spang 2014; Svejvig & Andersen 2015; Young & Conboy 2013). Mir and Pinnington state that tangible and intangible benefits are expected for companies as a result of the focus on the project management (Mir & Pinnington 2014). Therefore, project management is defined as the properly developed and organised approach to managing such company’s resources as human resources, material resources, and financial resources that allows saving costs and increasing profits (Lappe & Spang 2014; Van Buuren, Buijs & Teisman 2010).

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Researchers state that benefits of project management for organisations are most noticeable while focusing on the implementation of program and portfolio management in the organisation (Kaiser, Arbi & Ahlemann 2015; Killen et al. 2012). If the focus on the single project is important at the initial stage of the strategy’s development, the orientation to the program management is important at the next stage, when it is necessary to develop a complex approach to achieving the certain strategy (Svejvig & Andersen 2015; Young & Conboy 2013). Program management associated with a framework developed to coordinate a set of projects is advantageous for the company that needs to allocate resources in order to achieve the highest goal and to schedule all the procedures efficiently (Mesken 2010; Shehu & Akintoye 2010).

Project portfolios are essential in order to implement the complex strategy in the company (Heising 2012; Kaiser, Arbi & Ahlemann 2015). The benefits of project portfolio management are in the fact that this approach is effective to prioritize the strategy for implementing, to evaluate the complex of proposed steps, and to select the most efficient projects for completing in the organisation. Mesken notes that there is the positive correlation between the focus on the project portfolio management and the company’s success (Mesken 2010). Furthermore, project portfolio management is the continuous process focused on reviewing used projects and programs in order to achieve the corporate goal in an efficient manner (Young & Conboy 2013). Teller and the group of researchers note that project portfolio management is beneficial for the company because the exchange of information becomes properly organised, the management of resources becomes more efficient, and the coordination of a set of projects allows the achievement of strategic goals as a complex (Teller et al. 2012). Thus, project portfolio management as the highest level of the project organisation in the company is important to improve transparency and the quality of planning and contribute to the overall standardisation in the firm (Jonas 2010; Lappe & Spang 2014).

Links between Sustainability and Project Management

Recent researches indicate that the relationship between the focus on projects and project management in companies is correlated with the achievements of organisations in the field of increasing sustainability and achieving the corporate strategy (Aguinis & Glavas, 2012; Hällgren 2012). From this point, project management contributes to improving the company’s governance through improving the approach to formulating strategic goals and to improving supervising and reporting strategies. As a result, this approach is connected with the company’s sustainable development (Ahola et al. 2014; Pinto 2014).

Sustainable development in the organization is discussed as the development oriented to addressing the company’s needs and interests while avoiding the negative impact on the future generations’ development (Eskerod & Huemann 2013; Martinet 2011). Researchers determine ecological, economic, and social dimensions of the company’s sustainable development (Eskerod & Huemann 2013; Lenferink, Tillema, & Arts, 2013; Martinet 2011). In this case, the focus on the project portfolio management is most contributing to the idea of sustainability because it demonstrates the holistic approach to developing the effective strategy for the company (Eskerod & Huemann 2013; Heising 2012). However, the sustainable development of organisations is also discussed through in the context of the project management’s advantages for the company’s business (Pade-Khene, Mallinson & Sewry 2011; Svejvig & Andersen 2015).

Nevertheless, researchers are inclined to associate the project portfolio management with the idea of sustainability because the focus on the project portfolio allows reviewing the previous company’s experience regarding the achievement of sustainability and implementing the complex strategy to complete the set goals (Robichaud & Anantatmula 2011). Recent researches in the field indicate what features and concepts should be taken in consideration in order to relate the ideas of project management and company’s sustainability. According to Heising, in order to achieve sustainability in the organisation, it is necessary to implement innovation in the portfolio project management and refer to the strategic objectives (Heising 2012). This idea is also supported by Ahn, Zwikael, and Bednarek (Ahn, Zwikael & Bednarek 2010). Furthermore, Müller, Pemsel, and Shao state that it is important for organisations to be project-based because approaches used for completing projects are important to plan and schedule the further progress of the company according to the principles of sustainable development (Müller, Pemsel & Shao 2014). In addition, Rijke, Van Herk, and Zevenbergen pay attention to the role of program management for the development of the balanced strategy as the first step to sustainability (Rijke, Van Herk & Zevenbergen 2014).

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From this point, the approaches used to organise program management and project portfolio management can be used to create sustainability in the organisation because of the focus on balancing approaches, choosing the most profitable strategies, and allocating resources efficiently. Researchers conclude that the methods used for project management can be effectively utilised for adding value and creating sustainability in the company (Young & Conboy 2013; Young et al. 2012; Zou et al. 2014).

Key Results of Research Done by Different Authors in Sustainability and Project Management

Focusing on the key results in the studies conducted to state the relationship between project management and sustainability, it is important to note that this relationship is not actively researched field of knowledge, and few studies on the topic were published in recent years. However, the interest to the topic grows, and it is possible to summarise the current discussion of the relationship developed by the researchers. The existing literature on the issue emphasises several areas in which the principles of project management and sustainability are correlated. Nevertheless, referring to the researches, it is important to note that the main idea developed by investigators is the relationship dependent on the notion of change (Heising 2012; Svejvig & Andersen 2015; Turner, Maylor & Swart 2015).

While discussing the idea of change related to projects and sustainability, it is necessary to state that sustainable development depends on changing the approach to the organisation of the company’s activities. In this case, managers choose to complete projects in order to realise the necessary change (Pereau, Doyen & Little 2012; Robichaud & Anantatmula 2011; Too & Weaver 2014). According to Heising, sustainable development as a change in the company’s strategy needs to be supported by a range of practices and procedures (Heising 2012). In their turn, projects are directly connected with the implementation of new practices in order to reach the set corporate goal (Hällgren 2012; Müller, Pemsel & Shao 2014).

At the higher level, the focus on changes in order to achieve sustainability is associated with incorporating a set of projects oriented to implementing new strategies in the organisation. Thus, following the findings of Rijke, Van Herk and Zevenbergen, it is possible to state that the concept of program management is directly associated with the idea of the company’s sustainable development (Rijke, Van Herk & Zevenbergen 2014).

Researchers also note that those organisations that are oriented to sustainability are also inclined to change the overall approach to the management within the company (Kaiser, Arbi & Ahlemann 2015; Killen et al. 2012). As a result, project portfolio management is discussed as leading to the strategic change in the organisation because of the holistic approach that is the fundament of this highest level of the project management (Lenferink, Tillema & Arts 2013; Mir & Pinnington 2014). Thus, researchers state that project management and the idea of sustainability are closely related, but it is necessary to focus on the role of the change in the process in order to understand the existing relationship (Mesken 2010; Mok, Shen & Yang 2015).

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Reference

Aguinis, H & Glavas, A 2012, ‘What we know and don’t know about corporate social responsibility: a review and research agenda’, Journal of Management, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 932-968.

Ahn, M, Zwikael, O & Bednarek, R 2010, ‘Technological invention to product innovation: A project management approach’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 28, no. 6, pp. 559-568.

Ahola, T, Ruuska, I, Artto, K & Kujala, J 2014, What is project governance and what are its origins? International Journal of Project Management, vol. 32, no. 8, pp. 1321-1332.

Eskerod, P & Huemann, M 2013, ‘Sustainable development and project stakeholder

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Martinet, V 2011, ‘A characterization of sustainability with indicators’, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 183-197.

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Mok, K, Shen, G & Yang, J 2015, ‘Stakeholder management studies in mega construction projects: A review and future directions’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 446-457.

Müller, R, Pemsel, S & Shao, J 2014, ‘Organizational enablers for project governance and governmentality in project-based organizations’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 50-78.

Pade-Khene, C, Mallinson, B & Sewry, D 2011, ‘Sustainable rural ICT project management practice for developing countries: investigating the Dwesa and RUMEP projects’, Information Technology for Development, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 187-212.

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Pinto, J 2014, ‘Project management, governance, and the normalization of deviance’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 376–387.

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Shehu, Z & Akintoye, A 2010, ‘Major challenges to the successful implementation and practice of programme management in the construction environment: A critical analysis’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 26-39.

Svejvig, P & Andersen, P 2015, ‘Rethinking project management: A structured literature review with a critical look at the brave new world’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 278-290.

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Too, E & Weaver, P 2014, ‘The management of project management: a conceptual framework for project governance’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 32, no. 8, pp. 1382-1394.

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Young, M & Conboy, K 2013, ‘Contemporary project portfolio management: reflections on the development of an Australian Competency Standard for Project Portfolio Management’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 31, no. 8, pp. 1089-1100.

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