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What Is Project Sustainability?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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Project sustainability is the goal of creating and successfully launching a project that is capable of continuing to generate benefits for an extended period of time. This concept of sustainable project development posits that once the project is launched and begins to generate some type of benefits, it is possible to continue utilizing the same general approaches to allow the project to continue moving forward, supplying those benefits for as long as necessary. As part of the process, the project will often produce resources that can be used in that ongoing operation, making the project worth the time and effort to continue.

The particulars of project sustainability will vary somewhat, depending on the nature of the project itself. As a rule, efforts to build sustainability into a project early on is a good approach, since attempting to integrate that type of ongoing benefit later on can be somewhat difficult. This means that project managers must be looking at not only the nuts and bolts of structuring a project, but also the eventual outcome and how the effort can continue to produce results for a number of years.

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Another key element in project sustainability is consideration of the resources that are required for the effort. This means selecting resources that are likely to be available for the foreseeable future, minimizing the possibility of undermining the project once it is up and running, due to a lack of essential materials. In many cases, this will mean identifying secondary sources of those materials or even substitutes that can be pressed into action if circumstances merit a change in process. For example, a food manufacturer may have a backup resource for certain ingredients in the event that one or more resources used in the recipe are no longer available or are declared unhealthy by a governmental agency and must be eliminated from the product.

Project sustainability requires compliance with current standards as well as providing a viable means of allowing the project to generate benefits on an ongoing basis. Those standards are often determined by considering governmental regulations relevant to the project as well as the production and quality standards of the company that is authoring the endeavor. Attention is usually paid to consumer wants and needs as a way of determining if the results of a project will likely be attractive enough to generate demand that will continue for an appreciable period of time. Unless all these elements are present, then project sustainability may be difficult if not impossible to achieve.

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