Updated: Nov 3
Imagine putting in all the hard work of writing a successful proposal — making sure every condition from the call text is met — and funding is granted. The entire research team is ecstatic; the funding ample enough to ensure the project moves forward as it was designed in the countless hours spent on the grant application.
But then the project fails.
Despite the great idea, despite the ample funding, and despite the enthusiasm of the team, it just wasn’t enough to get the project to market.
This underscores the importance of good, sustainable project management.
Project managers can sometimes be thought of as less integral to a project’s success over its life cycle, which is a view that many failed initiatives have taken.
In reality, proper management is essential to ensure on-time and on-budget project delivery and to ensure overall project success.
These principles apply equally to all endeavours that have received grant funding, but in today’s climate, it is especially important for sustainable technologies to properly manage their ideas and get them to market. That is why the focus here is on the importance of a sustainable project management processes — for sustainable development and technologies that will help lessen the ecological and environmental impact for future generations.
Essential #1: Ensuring sound decision making
The primary role of sustainable or green project management is to ensure sound decision making. This goes for ensuring project success, but also for ensuring sustainability is built into the thinking of project goals. A case study from the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht found that the most effective way to do this is for the project manager to do it — further emphasizing the importance of having sustainable project management competencies.
Of course, there is much to be considered on top of sustainability. One of the main reasons that projects fail to reach the market after obtaining grant funding is a lack of industrial know-how — in essence, an inability to translate success in the lab to success in the real world.
Project managers excel in this area particularly, ensuring deliverables are met and progress moves forward through each stage along the path to market.
Essential #2: Properly managing large infrastructure projects
Not all grant-funded projects require building and working with large infrastructure — but the ones that do need to make sure this is well managed. Keeping major construction projects on time and within budget is a difficult task, and becomes even harder when it must consider the environmental aspects of sustainable construction. This is usually far outside the scope (and desire) of the scientific coordinators that typically run the lab side of these projects.
Having a competent project manager can be the difference between getting the infrastructure built and shutting down the project. And that’s not an exaggeration. Someone who can look beyond short-term aspects of development projects while also incorporating environmental management is extremely valuable.
Researchers should focus on research, and managers should focus on management.
Essential #3: Ensuring true integration of sustainability
This applies mainly to projects that are rooted in sustainable technology or innovation — though it also holds true for others, such as those working with natural resources or agriculture.
The concept of sustainability is simple: it is the ability to maintain a certain rate or level of consumption or use. While considering sustainability is important for ground-breaking sustainable technologies, it is applicable to all sorts of project management in a time where all major infrastructure projects need to have less impact on the environment.
Incorporating sustainability principles
Project management practices need to incorporate more than just environmental sustainability into their practices — they need to implement the triple bottom line and focus on economic sustainability management as well. Proper energy portfolio management can help all of these, depending on the scope of the project, and a full ecology and sustainability assessment on all project activities will go a long way in ensuring true integration of sustainability.
Incorporating social aspects and social sustainability
Without going into a literature review on stakeholder engagement, stakeholder management, procurement, and supply chain management, there are certain aspects of social sustainability that need to be addressed on top of environmental sustainability. Corporate social responsibility is also included in this, and it is becoming increasingly important in an age where companies are held to a higher standard of not only sustainable operation, but also fair and equitable treatment of people and the environment. Stakeholder participation project life cycle.
How Linq can help with project management
The role of Scientific Coordinator is very different from the role of Project Manager.
Scientists want to see inventions and technological advancements taken to the next level. Project managers want to see results delivered on time and within budget with all stakeholders satisfied.
The project team at Linq Consulting come from scientific backgrounds and are able to understand both sides. Our team members enable effective projects by letting you focus on your research while we take care of the administration.
We manage and administer projects of all sizes both as a subcontractor and as a full project beneficiary. Click here for more information on how we support project activities and how we can help you achieve long-term project success.
Schipper and Van den Brink "Sustainability in Project Management Processes", January 2013, DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4177-8.ch004
Gareis, R & Huemann, Martina & Martinuzzi, Andre. (2011). "What can project management learn from considering sustainability principles." Project perspectives. 33. 60-65.