Having prioritized, selected and implemented a group of projects, only the final stage of the Program Management Cycle is left to complete: Reporting on the Results.
The quality of the projects undertaken determines the bulk of the success of a program; however, demonstrating a sustainability program can actually strengthen the bottom line depends on the degree to which the project results can be substantiated. Further, anything less than a clear understanding of the outcomes generated will hinder the program, as it will diminish the potential for identifying shortcomings and make it difficult to see opportunities for continuous improvement. Without strong reporting to close the loop, you will reduce the effectiveness of the Program Management Cycle and overall program.
Scenario Review: Can You See More Opportunities than Seymour?
Seymour was the new CEO, hired by the Board of Directors for his innovative thinking skills and ability to get results. Seymour knew the company had a sustainability plan in place – the foundation had been laid by his predecessor, and the organization had undertaken several projects. One of Seymour’s first priorities was to assess the successes and failures of the past three years, so he set out interviewing the staff.
Harry, the Operations Manager, came first, “We’ve saved lots of money on energy because we’ve replaced all our dated parking lot lighting and installed a more efficient chiller. Not sure how much, but the estimates said we should be saving over $15,000 each year!”
Orvil in Human Resources offered his thoughts too, “I know, with our strategic plan to grow our sustainable product line, that we need to attract a different type of employee – new hires who had an interest in both manufacturing and sustainability. I try to tell potential recruits that we’re committed to sustainability, but a pamphlet or something would sure help – most people check the website, I guess, but there’s not much detail on there.”
Nancy the Marketing Director also had some concerns about the sustainability program, “Our industry in general is being accused of greenwashing. I try to say that we invested over a quarter of a million dollars into sustainability projects, but I’ve had at least two prospective clients challenge me on the sincerity of what we’re doing, especially with the news story publicized last year on the waste we had been dumping. To be honest, I never really feel confident in those discussions; I just don’t have enough concrete data to present.”
Susan, the Sustainability Coordinator, came next, “Our old CEO wanted us to do a few larger and more visible projects, but I’m not convinced we picked ideal projects. We didn’t have a lot of sound data to work and it didn’t seem much emphasis was placed on what we actually accomplished. I’ll tell you honestly, I’m so relieved that you are still on board with sustainability – it would have been easy for you to slash our small budget because we haven’t made much of a case for the impact of the work we’ve been doing.”
Through his interviews, the new CEO, Seymour, started to see more clearly that the sustainability program had fallen short in a few significant ways. Before they invested anything more, Seymour wanted to see more proof from Susan that the projects undertaken were generating the results expected. Most importantly, Seymour wanted to see more emphasis on getting the information to the people in the organization that needed it most. Whether in marketing, human resources, operations or otherwise, he could see that reporting on the results of their program was needed to move the program forward.
Without understanding the results generated, it is not clear what has been accomplished, how to substantiate the program’s value or what can be done differently to improve the program looking ahead. This section describes how to effectively measure and report on program results and use the data generated to strengthen the program overall.
To support the body of work completed and improve it over time, some checks and balances are required. Reporting on the results generated will conclude the Program Management Cycle as we walk through the following subsections:
- Measuring the Impact Generated
- Documenting and Sharing the Results
- Leveraging the Results Achieved
- Harbourfront Centre Case Study