Green Project Management and the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill(1/3)

A joint post from EarthPM and TenStep:

There are many examples of projects undertaken to produce some deliverable with environmental implications. In fact, one may assert that in fact, any project, since it uses resources, has environmental implications. This varies tremendously, based on scale and the direct impact on the environment. One project that clearly has environmental implications is the Deepwater Horizon drilling project and what is often called “the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster”.

Important note: We do not purport to say that any specific single action or philosophy that we enumerate below would have prevented the Deepwater Horizon disaster or led to its instant cleanup. What we do assert, however, is that taken collectively and holistically, an intense focus on green thinking would have had a tremendously positive impact on the disaster.

Many companies are incorporating environmental considerations into their thinking about the deliverables of their projects, and some are even integrating this thinking into the operation of that deliverable. However, are they truly following green project management processes to assist them in their decision making process throughout the project and beyond? We assert that Green Project Management can be applied to all projects. Even those that may not appear to be creating a deliverable with an environmental impact still have environmental aspects that can affect their decision making (for example, even if one is developing a new software release there are decisions to be made that affect the environment – decisions such as meeting policies, method of duplicating the software, energy considerations for the servers involved, and so on).

Both TenStep and EarthPM believe that the environment should be considered in any project – and therefore in an organization\’s project management processes. We also think that doing this is not only the right thing to do but that it will benefit the organization. Both organizations have published various communications which provide thought leadership on this subject (refer to www.green-pm.com and www.earthpm.com.

We’ve decided to apply examples from Green Project Management to the challenges faced (mainly by BP) in the Gulf Coast oil spill. The main thrust of Green Project Management is not that every decision will be made differently or “in favor of” the environment, but instead that each project needs to consider the environment in its decision making process. This of course includes the conservation of the project’s resources, which should already be part of the project manager’s mission.

What we are suggesting here are some ways in which Green Project Management may have provided BP with key insights that, taken holistically, may have done some of the following (in the abstract, anyway):

  • Prevented the disaster or at least limited the extent of the damage
  • Made it easier to repair once it happened
  • Allowed BP and the other responsible parties to deal more skillfully with key stakeholders.

Let’s consider the example of Green Project Management in completing a project to define, develop, and implement the oil rig. Note that some of the examples below may not directly apply to the Deepwater Horizon project, but are provided as examples to demonstrate the principles of Green Project Management.

In subsequent posts, we’ll consider the example of Green Project Management in completing a project to define, develop, and implement the oil rig. Note that some of the examples may not directly apply to the Deepwater Horizon project, but are provided as examples to demonstrate the principles of Green Project Management. Here are the topics we’ll cover this week…

• Project Charter
• Project Scope Management and Project Integration Management
• Project Management Plan – An Environmental Management Plan component
• Requirements Management
• Cost Management
• Communication Management – Identify Stakeholders
• Risk Management – Probability and Impact Assessment
• Procurement Management
• Summary and Authors

We’ll start off with the Project Charter on Wednesday…

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