Project risks can affect operational sustainability in a business, yet sometimes these risks are not managed appropriately, if at all. Identifying these operational sustainability risks can take some work, but it can be very worthwhile. Supplier disruption, relationship conflicts, operational strategy misalignment, and talent management miscues are just a few of the missteps that can hurt operational sustainability.
This is the first part of a series of four articles on sustainability. This first part, “Support Operational Sustainability in Your Project Risk Management", encourages PMs to look at the operational impacts and potential risks of a project on an organization. Part 2, “Ensure Financial Sustainability As Part of Your Project Risk Management", identifies financial viability and performance as an essential precursor to any other type of sustainability for the project or organization. Part 3, “Consider Social Sustainability in Your Project Risk Management", looks at various external social considerations that may pose risk to the project and organization, and how those social risks can be managed. Part 4, “Include Environmental Sustainability in Your Project Risk Management", looks at the risks inherent in a number of environmental areas and how awareness is the first step to achieving environmental sustainability.
Projects are executed in order to improve the organization in some way, yet sometimes the execution of a project disrupts the operations and provides a hidden cost. The project team may be well-intentioned, but without participation from carefully selected operational personnel, the project team may not be able to foresee some negative impacts that the project can have and how to minimize the chances and impacts.
What are some of these operational considerations? Operational personnel within the organization are best equipped to help identify potential issues, but here are a few for consideration:
- Supplier operations – Does your project affect the normal execution of current operations supporting the supply of inputs to your organization? Does it altar the flow of information?
- Distribution operations – Does your project affect the delivery or service provided to your customers?
- Sales operations – Are the systems used to support sales disrupted at all by the project?
- Customer support – Is the support of existing customers impacted in any way by execution of the project?
- Relationship conflicts – Are any ‘partnering’ relationships, internal or external, affected by the implementation of the project?
- Operational strategy misalignment – While the project may have been aligned with strategy when selected, issues of misalignment could arise as you implement the details of the project. Do you have a way to spot a misalignment issue if it arises?
- Talent management – Does your project have any impact on the human resources side of the business, such as how people are organized, the skills that they need to have, or who they need to work with?
If there is any risk of operational sustainability in any of these areas, you need to make sure you have risk triggers in place to alert the project team, and maybe the appropriate operations team, in case there is an issue. In addition, your team will ideally have responses in place in advance and be in a position to take quick action to remediate any problems.
Are you risking operational sustainability by missing any risks that could be raised by asking operational subject matter experts?
This Post is Part of the Series: Sustainability
This series of four articles teaches how project risks can affect operational sustainability in a business.