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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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About the Author

Rich is Senior Manager at the Global Program Management Office of a major telecom concern, where he is responsible for the Development Framework for over 2,000 customer-facing project managers. The Framework is an integrated program including the curricula, career path, skills management, and professional certification, and is being adapted by the company for all of its 18,000 Services personnel. In this role, he helped merge the PMOs the American and French components of this company, and was featured in the Project Management Institute’s Leadership in Project Management 2008 annual issue. In addition to this work, Rich has also been developing and delivering PM courseware for Boston University’s Corporate Education Center, mScholar, and their clients in industries as diverse as construction, medical devices, defense, insurance, pharmaceutical research, and professional sports organizations. Certified since 2000 as a PMP, Rich has helped hundreds attain their PMP credential through direct instruction and coaching as well as his editing and voicing of a 12-CD set of audio PMP lessons for mScholar. He was also an editor for the 4th edition of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). Rich’s background includes 10 years as an electrical engineer, designing and programming test equipment for the manufacture and repair of electronic and fiber optic transmission equipment. He also led a technical solutions team, during which time he was the lead author for the Bell Labs Technical Journal article “Design for Networks – the Ultimate Design For X”. His 10 years of engineering and engineering management is supplemented by a 20 year career as a manager of project managers, deploying telecom networks and services. This period includes a 2-year international assignment in The Netherlands (2000-2002), where he built a team of PMs focused on deploying telecom networks in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Rich’s educational background includes a BSEE from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University, and certificates in business management from Indiana University/INSEAD and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Rich also has a Master’s certificate in Project Management from the Stevens Institute.
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