For any project, process or system to be successful, it must put mechanisms in place to ensure it achieves sustainability. Sustainability describes the ability of organizations to endure and build resilience to external factors that affect their daily activities (Thiele, 2010). In any of the aforementioned undertakings, the lifespan enjoyed is dictated by the level of sustainability put in place. When sustainability is emphasized in an undertaking, measures are placed to counter threats that affect smooth transition of a project from one phase to another. An insufficiency of sustainability hinders the flow of processes and systems and it exposes them to threats that can lead to failure of organizations and projects (Thiele, 2013).
For any undertaking to be sustainable, it must pass through three critical phases (Robinson, 2012). The first phase is called the Piloting phase. During this phase, the project is validated to ensure that it has the potential to achieve sustainability. The piloting phase is a trial phase of the main project where the concept of the project is replicated on small scale to see how it responds in real life situation (Robinson, 2012). The data gathered during this phase will determine the threats that might affect the project should it be done on a large scale. This phase is important because it predisposes the project to pitfalls it might encounter. Solutions to these problems can then be sought early enough before the project moves into the next two phases (Robinson, 2012).
The second phase of the sustainability process is the Scaling Phase. The scaling phase involves implementation of the project on a large scale. During this phase, all the critical pitfalls observed during the piloting phase are mitigated in the early stages of the project to ensure sustainability measures are put in place (Goodall, 2012). The scaling of the project is very demanding. Skillful resource allocation learnt during the piloting phase is what aids in building sustainability (Goodall, 2012). The scaling process is where resources are divided in accordance to the needs of each department in the project. Some sections in the project require more resources than others in order to be optimal. Due to scarcity of resources, it is always important to ensure key sections in the project receive larger portions of resources. This will invoke sustainability due to maximum utilization of the available resources (Goodall, 2012).
The final phase is the Sustainability phase. After the scaling process is complete, the project is accessed to ensure that all sections work in tandem with the set objectives. The sections should be able to function seamlessly creating a closed system where all the variables can adjust to threats from external factors without crippling the entire project (Robinson, 2012). At this point, sustainability is said to be achieved. When growth is required, the project will only undergo the two final phases of sustainability, that is, the scaling phase and the sustainability phase (Robinson, 2012).
In order to transcend smoothly through the three sustainability phases, there are three important factors to consider. The first is strategy. The strategy of a project depicts the operations of that project. It is derived from the set objectives and goals of the project (Genus, 2014). A model is created to guide the operations of the project from the strategy put in place. Without a strategy, sustainability chances are very low (Genus, 2014).
The second factor is viability. The project must demonstrate the ability to be relevant over a long period of time. This makes undertaking the project worthwhile to the stakeholders involved. It also justifies the need for resource allocation (Genus, 2014).
The final factor is adaptability. Any project must be able to react quickly to the dynamic environment in which it is situated. Its flexibility and ability to react to unpredictable circumstances gauges its ability to be sustainable (Genus, 2014).
In order to achieve sustainability, all the factors and phases discussed above must be incorporated from the inception of a project, process or system to when it actually realizes success (Ott, 2014).