How to Use GPM’s P5

“Risk comes from not knowing what you`re doing.” Warren Buffett
“Risk is like fire: If controlled it will help you; if uncontrolled it will rise up and destroy you.” Theodore Roosevelt

What is the P5 ?

The GPM Global PRiSM methodology advocates for the usage of the GPM P5 (People, Planet, Prosperity, Processes and Products) Model, which allows for a facilitated exercise initiated during the initiation phase of a project and throughout the project at key milestones. The GPM P5 model has evolved over the years from an analysis, compilation and synthesis of the following sources to provide the world leading sustainable project and product reference model:

The objective is to take an overall cradle to cradle asset life-cycle perspective to define and prioritize sustainability threats and opportunities from a 360standpoint.

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The P5 provides key decision makers across the organizational change delivery disciplines the information and insight they need to lead the change initiative. This will significantly improve the project’s value, mitigate risks, improve benefits and maximize the positive impact to the environment, society and economy.

GPM Organizational Change Delivery Disciplines - 01


The P5 is also an excellent catalyst to both advocate for, support, and align with the organizations sustainable management strategies, policies and procedures:

GPM Organizational Policies and Strategies and Objectives 01


Further, it will also facilitate cooperation and communication across the organization’s functions to ensure awareness and understanding to align with the organization’s strategic goals and objectives:

GPM Organizational Functions - 01


This will aid the leadership team to prioritize, recognize and employ the actionable information they require to evaluate and  justify changes to the project’s scope in socially, environmentally and economically responsible ways.

Keys to Using P5

To use P5 the project stakeholder’s understanding of the business case, project charter, project requirements and organizational sustainability goals, as well as reviewing lessons learned from previous projects are critical. Using the GPM P5 is similar to a Strength / Weakness / Opportunity / Threat Analysis (SWOT) or Political / Economic / Social / Technological / Legal / Environmental Analysis (PESTLE) for identifying risks (threats and opportunities) where these similar reviews would be required.

While the business case and project charter are the accountability of the project sponsor to produce, process steps to gather, document and gain agreement on requirements based on the understanding of the document’s organizational strategy are the project manager’s responsibility (ICB 3.0)

Methods to Using P5

There are several ways to use P5.

The questions are organized by an overall categorization of People / Planet / Prosperity, which are sub-organized by sub-category. The sub-categories have the specific elements that the team asks questions about to see if there are any sustainability threats or opportunities that should be raised to management and / or the executive for action. Several perspectives are taken, including the product impacts from the project outcomes and the process impacts from the approaches taken.

Developing a risk register using each element as a category may be the simplest to capture the responses to each element.  Our experience shows that the most effective way is to use a simple scoring system.

When using a scoring system, each product deliverable and project process is scored against each element of P5 based on a positive / neutral / negative scale.  The ranges go from a neutral (o), high (+ or -3) , medium (+ or -2) , and low (+ or -1).

I personally prefer the following approach:

Positive numbers indicate that the element will provide a high positive impact, perhaps reducing or mitigating the elements risk.

Negative numbers indicate that the element will provide a negative impact by adding to or amplifying the elements affects.

A neutral (o) indicates no impact at all.

The highest value is the best as it has a positive overall impact (+3 for example, is the best possible score).  The table below displays an example.



Deliverable 1 with +3 is positive whereas Deliverable 3 will probably require some mitigation to deal with the high negative impact.

However, another approach is outlined below (this taken from the new P5 Standard):

The lowest value is equal to the lowest impact (-3 for example, is the best possible score) as outlined in the table below displays an example.


Deliverable 1 with +3 will need to be managed as a high risk whereas Deliverable 3 poses little to no risk.

These methods are a simplified analytic hierarchy process (AHP), one of the most popular analytical techniques for complex decision-making problems. Note: An AHP hierarchy can have as many levels as needed to fully characterize a particular decision situation (Decision making in manufacturing environment using graph theory and fuzzy multiple attribute decision making, 2013).

The average of the summation of scores will establish a baseline during initiation for each P5 bottom line People, Planet, Profit, Process and Product, and items that have a negative score (negative) are a risk to the sustainability score of the project and will need to be managed and mitigated. Or at least discussed and prioritized with management / leadership to decide how best to proceed. Processes are measured in the same manner.

Defining Sustainability Objectives from the Analysis

The usage of P5 will provide key insights on where the problem areas are from a sustainability perspective.

P5 can also be used more formally to prepare a P5 Impact Analysis Analysis, which provides for a more detailed report. Once the analysis has been completed, the items that pose a risk (anything with a – score) should be sectioned off, reviewed and mapped to into a Sustainability Management Plan (SMP).


The GPM P5 is a straightforward tool and technique to aid in identifying and mitigating sustainability risks within projects.  This post has provide a high level primer on what the P5 is.  For a more detailed study of this, consider taking a GPM course. For more information check out the GPM Education Page on our Website.

You can download P5 for free at 


Carboni, J., Gonzalez, M., & Hodgkinson, J. (2013) The GPM reference guide to sustainability in Project Management. Fort Wayne: GPM Global.

GPM. (2016). The GPM P5™ Standard for Sustainability In Project Management v1.5. Novi: Green Project Management.

GPM. (2012). PRISM PRojects Integrating Sustainable Methods. Green Project Management.

Carboni, Duncan, Gonzalez, Milsom & Young (2018). Sustainable Project Management: The GPM Reference Guide Second Edition. Novi: Green Project Management.

IPMA. (2015). IPMA Competence Baseline (ICB), Version 4.0. International Project Management Association. Retrieved from

Rao, R. V. (2013). Decision making in manufacturing environment using graph theory and fuzzy multiple attribute decision making, Vol. 2. New York: Springer.


Peter Milsom

Peter Milsom is an entrepreneurial advocate for sensible, sustainable change delivery practice. Peter has come to realize that sustainability is the perfect catalyst for Project / Programme / Portfolio / Risk / Value / Business Case and Benefits Management improvement. As an entrepreneurial methodologist Peter's unique value proposition is the vast array of tools and techniques that he brings to every engagement using the most cost effective and efficient methods based on the situation and tailored to meet your needs. This is based on his unique combination of experience and extensive training / certifications in change delivery, value / risk / benefits management business case, and business architecture.

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