04.07.2019 in Management

Project Management CSR and Sustainability


Project management involves project planning, organizing resources, tracking, collaborating stakeholders, and motivating employee teams to add value to projects so that they are completed on time and within fixed budgets. One of the major challenges for project managers is integrating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies for environmental sustainability into project management to ensure that all projects comply with global laws. CSR refers to companies being more socially aware of the damage they can cause to the natural environment by misusing natural resources, which threatens the world’s sustainability. Environmental sustainability relates to ensuring that the world will endure by protecting its natural ecological structure. CSR and sustainability guidelines should be developed for all projects to make sure they conform to global laws. Project management that focuses on ensuring environmental awareness and protection in all projects using CSR strategies is becoming mandatory worldwide to provide a long-term sustainable development.

CSR and Sustainability in Project Management

According to Parish, project management planning should focus on coordinating team members using CSR strategies. It includes being socially conscious throughout all project phases to achieve a continuous economic and environmental sustainability. Norman states that several new international initiatives are focusing on how project managers need to enforce CSR and ethical guidelines for all organizational stakeholders to ensure corporate governance throughout all projects and business activities. CSR sustainable development guidelines and laws provide an overall framework for project managers to make sure they are committed to the global transparency, sustainable development, and accountability. Erring states that these initiatives will help project managers upgrade their dedication to improving overall ethical standards and sustainability practices worldwide. They will also increase their global legitimacy and participation in international corporate governance approaches to conducting business in all nations for future sustainable development in all projects.

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Howard states that project managers must disclose their individual sustainability performance by integrating and following the CSR and sustainability reporting guidelines related to accounting transparency, financial reporting, environmental sustainability, human rights, and community impact. Ingalls states that a universal network of project managers committed to global sustainability in all areas is being established to focus on a social, economic and environmental sustainability, governance, and performance worldwide. Global reporting of these actions is referred to as a value reporting since they add value to projects by allowing the world to monitor and assess international business activities and their adherence to CSR guidelines publicly. Linwood states that the CSR sustainable development framework is necessary for project managers to review their organizational performance and ongoing progress related to respecting international laws, corporate governance, and sustainable development. Project managers can monitor reporting of their own carbon footprint in relation to Environmental Social Governance (ESG).

Umbrin states that with the new international initiatives for regulating, enforcing, and penalizing companies for the lack of CSR ethical standards in business, there will be an increase in consequences and punishment for many project managers. Considering the CSR sustainability implications for the future will be an important part of every project manager’s business objectives if they wish to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Gulliver states that the use of integrating CSR strategies into the overall project plan would provide a strict set of environmental guidelines and deadlines that would help all employees know when their individual parts of the project are due so that they will be completed on time and within a fixed budget.

Tarya states that it is essential that all project plans clearly explain in detail how every phase of the project will meet global CSR regulations. It will inform all stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, distributors and partners about the project management CSR and sustainability strategies. Accordingly, they will all realize how socially conscious the organization is, which will help them become more sustainable in the future. It will set a positive role model example for others to follow, which will instigate future CSR strategies being implemented into project management by all companies.

CSR sustainability in Project Phases

Keough states that project management CSR sustainability strategies must focus on making the project more protective of the natural environment in order to upgrade the company’s long-term reputation in the local community. Project management strategies can comprise milestones from a project concept to project completion which add value by incorporating environmental awareness throughout all stages. Abbott states that it refers to integrating the 3R concept into all aspects of the project in terms of recycling, reusing, and reducing waste whenever possible to protect the environment and comply with all international CSR guidelines. Forest states that CSR sustainability strategic approaches can be implemented into these main project phases: distributing resources, identifying the potential environmental risks, gaining stakeholder investment, creating the project plan and drafting the project outline, making adjustments to the project plan, managing a project change, evaluating the present status, gathering progress reports, and project completion.

Project Management Framework

The chart explains that within each of the project management stages, detailed tasks are necessary for meeting scheduled deadlines and milestones. A project phase involves these specific process activities:

  • Initiate—develop CSR and sustainability strategies for the project
  • Prepare/Planning & Design—define CSR scope, time, cost, quality, strategies, and design process
  • Execute & Control – procurement and construction of CSR planning, tracking, reporting, reporting, communication, accountability, teamwork, shared attitudes, and feedback
  • Close/Completion & Assessment/Handover – explanation of how CSR sustainable objectives were achieved, tasks involved, recommendations for a contingency planning.

Orndorf states that studying the ethical issues related to CSR sustainable development, corporate governance, and global reporting refers to understanding how critical corporate ethics and transparency are when involved in international business projects and contracts. Many companies do not monitor and evaluate their employees’ ethical behavior, actions, decisions, or attitudes. Klursky states that project managers who support a CSR corporate governance and global reporting ensure proper sustainability solutions get integrated. Project managers who develop formal CSR and corporate governance guidelines for all projects usually have strict Codes of Ethical Behavior and internal ethical structures in place. Considering the CSR sustainability implications for the future will be an important part of every project manager’s business objectives if they wish to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

Project Management Integrating Knowledge Management Strategies

According to Davenport & Prusak, applying knowledge management strategies to projects refers to providing a comprehensive framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and data into the organizational project management processes and systems. Knowledge management in projects focuses on organizing the constantly-changing combination of information, expertise, values, experience, contextual information, and professional insight in companies to upgrade the level of project management successfulness. Harper states that knowledge management can be applied to projects if organizations want to adopt various technological networking systems to make critical information more accessible for employees.

According to Pierce, knowledge management used in projects allows knowledge to become embedded not only in documents or online storage areas, but also in organizational routines, processes, practices, and norms. Holiday states that knowledge management combined with project management is a key part of any successful company project because it aids employees in continuously learning and helping each other through knowledge sharing, transfer, and acquisition. Polaris states that much knowledge is needed to learn about strategic project management. Project management with CSR and sustainability strategies must integrate protection of the environment into all steps of designing, developing, outsourcing, planning, budgeting, scheduling, and implementing of all types of projects. Varell states that taking into account constraints of the project management knowledge requires scheduling, quality of decisions made, and continuous improvement to keep the outcome accurate.

There should be an extensive problem solving and informed decision-making according to the change control, risk assessment, and project definition. Trudeau states that there must also be a CSR project specification of sustainability strategy details about what can and cannot be changed throughout the integration phases since certain details may not be altered. The resource management and organization of the project must be aligned with the project objectives and project scope. For this reason, there should be extensively detailed strategic project management, CSR guidelines, and strategies for planning projects that can be learned from and used by teams to plan and execute sustainable development projects.

Carter states that over 75% of the global developed nations’ workforce is somehow involved in the knowledge and service sector projects and this number will continue to grow in the future as new KM opportunities will arise. Larsen states that on an individual level, however, this has caused a major change for project managers who have difficulties managing their time and need to supervise their employee personal capital (knowledge) according to the project management guidelines.

The world is quickly becoming a knowledge-based economy where the pressure of gaining more knowledge and learning how to manage it effectively are increasing. Brennan states that defining projects for many companies and governments will involve developing their knowledge management strategies to help their employees manage, process, and share their knowledge with each other and customers, which will become a competitive advantage over their competitors in the industry. Radcliff states that there are many different knowledge gaps in project management that prevent teams from integrating CSR sustainability strategies. Thus, many IT software applications and programs for project management are inefficient or ineffective in developing contemporary projects and do not have enough knowledge management of the overall process and outcome. Some of the knowledge gaps in project management are:

  • Gaps between planning and CSR and sustainability implementation – project managers must instill CSR into employees throughout project phases
  • Gaps between Web 2.0 and project management tools – project managers must incorporate the most sophisticated IT software to monitor and update project changes and team members continuously.

Halliwell states that there are several Key Success Indicators (KSIs) in project management that relate to ensuring CSR sustainability strategies are being properly implemented by project completion. They include:

  • detailed project planning – CSR guidelines explained in all budgets, deliverables, milestones and deadlines
  • realistic cost estimates and timescale – CSR instilled in all project phases
  • detailed resource and material requirements – CSR applied by all suppliers
  • monitoring and reporting – CSR sustainability guidelines with solutions to problems that can be applied throughout project stages.


Many international environmental agencies and groups use mass media exposure to criticize and punish companies which do not comply with regulations. Environmental sustainability presents many challenges for project managers because business activities may have negative consequences on the ecological system. There may also be social and media problems involving the public’s lost respect and loyalty if projects do damage to communities. Projects have to be organized so as to support CSR and sustainability in project contracts, which is significant for effective global project management that respects the environment. Strategic alignment of projects to corporate objectives should also include CSR approaches that focus on preserving water and land resources. Projects should always focus on implementation of CSR guidelines for achieving goals of strategic alignment, knowledge management and sustainability. Effective project management that integrates CSR and sustainability strategies requires extensive coordination of knowledge management between team members to achieve specified corporate objectives.

Project team performance shows that there must be an extensive sharing of information and collaboration between team members. The team must be involved in every aspect of establishing the overall structure of the project, dividing responsibilities, and coordinating the final implementation. The team has to monitor and keep the project planning information accurate so that the overall costs would not exceed the revenues allotted. The final project update and status report must show that all key events are confirmed, and no problems have arisen. All team members must confirm budgets and deadlines have been met, or have detailed reports on what they are lacking in order to find immediate solutions. There must be a continuous daily feedback and input from all team members and project managers in order to keep all project management files updated. Project management strategies must be developed in order to adjust specifications, changes, deadlines, and budgets if needed. However, extensive contingency plans must always be arranged in case of any problems in the future. Some of the benefits of the post project review include having an integrated project full of useful information on arrangements and costs, plus an efficient method of forecasting and scheduling similar future activities.

The project review will help save resources such as time, money, energy, and human effort for the next project by coordinating information that can be used again. The overall sustainable development effectiveness of the project will be apparent once it is completed. Coordinating information by means of knowledge management will allow upgrading organizational planning for the next project. Strategic project management facilitates the role of projects in organizational culture change to ensure that all employees change their mindset to accept and adapt to sustainable development by adhering to CSR guidelines. Effective teamwork within projects and successful project management can contribute to long-term organizational development initiatives for sustainability and CSR. Organizational power, control, and conflicts can be properly handled with effective project management.

Project managers need to develop suitable informal and formal training and development programs for project teams to instill appropriate knowledge and understanding of the potential impact of different types of project contracts on project performance and project team outcomes. Competent project managers must design projects using CSR strategies to achieve cultural change and sustainable development improvements.

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