In the past decades, lean production philosophy has influenced deeply the way many manufacturing business work today. However, lean philosophy can also be adapted and applied to project work, and influence project management approaches with the ultimate goal of reducing/eliminating waste of all forms.
Examples of reducing waste in projects are reducing material waste, process waste, minimizing work in process, eliminating idle workforce, minimizing unused workforce skills, minimizing rework due to poor quality or spec changes). The lean approach is applied both to projects’ processes but also to the whole project value chain.
Adopting a Lean approach aims to reduce project costs while maximizing value for clients or users. However, it usually achieves this within the defined project boundaries, that is, the defined value chain of the project (i.e. suppliers, project team, customer or users).
Borrowing, however, the basic principles of green management and applying them to project management, one would tend to consider more the interrelation & interdependence between the systems of projects, the environment, economy and society, and therefore influence the project scope, deliverables, and project management approach to become “friendlier” to the surrounding systems/environments. Such systems (or sub-systems) are other projects, programs, corporate portfolios, the organization at large, society, and the natural environment.
This presentation offers an overview of the current developments in lean and green approaches as applied to project management, and proposes the consideration of the broader social and natural environments in the definition of projects. Green project management should include green objectives in the definition of the project scope, and apply a greener approach in managing project work. The purpose is to minimize any negative impact to project environments (negative by-products) while maximizing positive impact (positive by-products) by applying a less fragmented and longer-term holistic thinking, thus moving towards a more sustainable project management model.