Factors Influencing on the Project Sustainability

The project sustainability is the continuity of the project exploitation beyond its closure. It is essential and demanding when it comes to practice. The lack of finance for this interest when the project ends significantly affects the project sustainability, however it is not the only issue. Factors influencing on the project sustainability vary and they can be divided into two main categories: project-related factors and context-related factors. Project-related factors are internal factors while context-related factors are external factors, which should be all taken into account when developing projects.

TEXT | Thu Vo
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Project-related factors

Financing considerably affects the project sustainability. When the project ends, funding is also terminated despite on-going needs of resources for sustaining activities. The lack of funding for this interest influences on the contribution of partners as internal resources of partner organisations may not be adequate to continue the work. Therefore, the finance capability of participating organisations should also be considered.

Organisation types of partners additionally influence on the project sustainability: if the organisational culture is agile, open and transparent, project may be sustained better. A potential risk may occur due to possible institutional changes inside partner organisations.

Project employees play an important role in sustaining project outputs. The short and temporary employments can result in a poor sustaining performance as employees will bring project essences with them when they leave the organisations. The difference of employees’ backgrounds should be paid attention, for example, whether or not employees with economic backgrounds are suitable for health projects.

Project outputs should satisfy stakeholders’ needs. They should be feasible to target groups and their national contexts. Therefore, during the project lifetime, stakeholders’ feedback should be incorporated in and adjusted to project outputs when necessary. Features of outputs should be considered as concrete outputs might be easier for sustaining via commercialisation. Project benefits should be foreseeable in a short and long term as this helps estimate needed resources.

Timing can influence on aligning other resources, such as budget and humans, and on the quality of project outputs. If the project duration is too short, it can hinder the project team from developing quality results.

Capability for self-sustaining is an important factor. The project team should consider where and how stakeholders access the project outputs, which allows stakeholders who may need them in the future are able to find them in an appropriate time. A wider audience can be reached through the online platform and sharing project results through the online platform contributes to the project sustainability.

Context-related factors

The participation of stakeholders and the community plays a huge role in project sustainability. Communicating the importance of project outputs to stakeholders and beneficiaries helps to enhance the interest in the project. The non-recognition of project values can result in the waste of what has been developed and in other disadvantaged scenarios. As project resources are always limited, the project teams should consider widening as much as possible target groups and stakeholders.

National contexts, including legal, environmental, political, social factors, should be carefully considered. The perception of native population towards the project topic and its target groups can influence on the project continuity. Project outputs should respond and be adjusted to countries where the project is operated.

The role of governmental policy is important as if the public funding organisations do not acknowledge project benefits, it can result in budget cut for the sector. The economic and societal changes can affect the decisions concerning policies and regulations, which possibly disfavours the project sustainability. The policy related to project themes contributes to the continuity of project, for instance the project that targets at migrants and refugees can be affected by the migration policy.  

Requirements of the funding programme set many rules for project teams to comply with, but the adjustment of project outputs to the reality is not required. This may draw on the impractical and unneeded outputs. Additionally, changes of the funding programme strategies in the future terms are considered an influencer to the project sustainability, but it is impossible to predict them.

  • Clarizen 2018. Why is Budgeting Such an Important Part of Project Management?. https://www.clarizen.com/why-iFFs-budgeting-such-an-important-part-of-project-management/?cn-reloaded=1

  • DiVa Consortium 2011. Handbook for Dissemination, Exploitation and Sustainability of Educational Projects. https://www.diva-project.eu/images/stories/Public_Downloads/dhandbook.pdf

  • Nelke, M. 2012. Tools. Strategic Business Development for Information Centres and Libraries 9, 8, 115-134. Chandos Information Professional Series. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-84334-661-6.50008-5

  • Vo, T. 2021. Sustainability Plan for the Intellectual Outputs of an Erasmus+ Project. Case: Reboot Project. https://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:amk-2021112621949

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