Sustainability in the Project Lifecycle

Date/Time: Wednesday 2 February 2011, 7.15pm

Location: Wilberforce Building (Room WI-LT12), University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull, HU6 7RX | Map

Speaker: Simon Geller, Senior Project Manager, Department of Corporate Information and Computing Services, University of Sheffield

Presentation - Simon Geller (PDF)


This session will consider how the project lifecycle will be impacted by environmental issues, and offer practical guidelines for IT project managers to ensure that sustainability issues are considered during the planning and design stages of any IT project, and carefully monitored during project implementation.

Sheffield University is a Russell Group university established in 1905, with 24,004 students and 5,749 staff. They pride themselves on being at the forefront of academic IT developments.

The Programme and Project Unit (PPU) is a small unit within the Department of Corporate Information and Computing Services (CICS) at the university. They operate a matrix model, so staff are pulled out of Business as Usual activities when the need arises. They have three specialist Project Managers in the team, and potential project managers throughout the department are trained to APM-IC level as a minimum. They offer one-to-one support, discussion fora and mentoring for all their PM's in addition to a range of training and guidance materials.

According to Gartner research, the IT industry represents 2% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, which is roughly the same as the air travel. However, there is a case to be made for increasing the emissions from IT as this will replace the emissions from other less sustainable activities, primarily travel. The University takes it as a central principle that Sustainability should be embedded within everything they do. Sustainability is defined as “... development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs ...” and is not to be confused with longevity.

CICS-PPU has come up with a way of embedding the concepts of sustainability into the project life-cycle through their project documentation, enabling Project Managers and the members of Project Boards to consider the issues involved. This involves changes to the Project Proposal, Project Definition, Project Closure and Post-Project Review documents, as well as an optional Environmental Impact Assessment. This presentation will show how these documents work in practice, and go on to discuss the portfolio of projects an organization might run to reduce its carbon footprint, and how they might be managed.

Speaker Profile

Simon Geller is a Senior Project Manager at the University of Sheffield. He graduated from Sheffield Hallam University, and worked in the travel industry for ten years during a period when manual paper-based processes were rapidly being replaced with computer systems, and was particularly involved in this changeover. However, he also became concerned about the unsustainable nature of the business as the popularity of air travel rapidly expanded.

He subsequently ran his own Computer Services business for several years, and one of his major customers became the University of Sheffield, who were engaged in the process of modularisation requiring the creation of a courses database, and a major upgrade of their Student Records system. This led to him being offered a full-time position at the University.

When he joined, the University had not formalised its approach to Project Management. The institution's project success rate was quite low, and the need to improve things was recognised. This led to the adoption of the PRINCE2 methodology, and the training of a small group of Project Managers. This now forms the PPU which now includes a diverse range of the University's administrative and professional services including core IT systems, user support functions, transport services, and the University Drama Studio.

Simon has helped to deliver such projects as On-Line Timetables, a Virtual Learning Environment, Shibboleth and Curriculum Management systems. He currently has in his portfolio Electronic Document Records Management, Next Generation Email and Calendaring, and an Environmental Printing Review.