Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent

“The nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.”— Anonymous

Strategy is the particular means chosen to get from where you are to where you want to go, selected from multiple possibilities and reflecting your vision, mission, and values.  Corporate strategy typically begins at the top and cascades down through strategic business units (SBUs) via a process of collective conversations that engage stakeholders in off – site retreats, negotiations, and meetings of all sorts. At the end of that process, the corporate strategy ends up as collections — or portfolios — of strategic initiatives. Programs and projects become the change vehicles for executing strategic intent.

Every project in an organization should contribute to its strategic plan. But how can we ensure this linkage? We need to make sure that we integrate projects within the strategic plan. This integration requires a process for prioritizing projects by their contribution to the plan. In this article, we will introduce the strategic planning process and how it relates to project management.

Implementation of strategies requires actions and completing tasks, and should focus on how to realize these strategies. Implementation must include attention to the following key points:

 –  Executing the work requires allocation of resources such as budget, resources, and equipment. Organizational resources are limited. In addition, multiple goals frequently impose conflicting demands on resources. This requires a project Portfolio management & project prioritization based on organizational priorities.

–  Implementation requires an organizational structure that supports projects like PMO has top management support or executive committee support.

–  Project management processes for planning, executing, and controlling are essential to ensure that we are able to implement strategies effectively and efficiently. PMO is responsible to ensure smooth and effective projects management processes are in place and are followed properly.

–  We need a project selection and priority system to ensure strong alignment of projects and the strategy.

The strategy implementation  and its relationship to projects are given below:

Defining the strategy

The first step is to define a clear strategy. In defining strategy large organizations higher consultants, some have strategy department to do the business depending on the size of the organization. If you are working on defining the strategy think the three basic points

Business Identity:

Think about the business, what is your identity. How are you different from others? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What is your core competence? What are your goals?

 Market:

 Market means knowing and understanding your customers. Understand why they buy from you, what their wants and needs are, what business you are really in.

Strategic Focus:

 Once you have defined the above two then focus. Make this focus intertwined and meshed with your choice of key target customer and your own business identity. All three concepts have to work together.

Distribute Strategy to Projects

Once the strategy has been determined and has been approved by the company executive team, the responsibility of the project success does not fall only at the feet of the project manager. The chief executive officer (CEO), chief information officer (CIO), directors, functional management, and staff all have specific tangible and intangible roles in the project. In this manner, mutual expectations can be met and benefits realized. For a successful transition from strategy to project, the business must have in place:

–  Agreement on what needs changing, and why (this should be clearly supported by the project sponsor)

–  A common “language” for analyzing and describing requirements, based on a shared understanding of the business processes across “client,” purchasing, and information systems (IS) departments (don’t assume this is the case)

–  Agreed processes that involve the users in the selection and design of systems solutions (consider making a “client,” rather than an IS specialist, the program manager responsible for delivering the business benefits)

–  The support of a skilled, experienced technology project manager

 Each and every project should have some sort of a mission. The mission identifies the organization or client’s requirements and clearly defines the purpose or value of the project. A project’s mission must be completed for success of the project. Objectives define the success criteria for the project. The objectives relate directly to the completion of the project’s mission. Completing all of the objectives should accomplish the project’s mission. Measurable objectives provide a method of quantifying the results and establishing quality standards to evaluate the success of the project.

Implement Prioritized Project

Once we have distributed the strategy and found the projects we will see that we have more projects that can be executed as compared to resource and budget. So prioritizing projects is very much likely the solution in managing investments and implement strategy. In fact, it is the same.

With this information PMO is the main entity responsible to defining portfolio management system and seek the best approach to prioritize the projects for maximum and optimum utilization of resources and budget. Extending this principle to project prioritization means you should:

–  Understand how important a project is to you. How well does it align with your objectives?

–  Prioritize your projects early to allow for lead time for effective decision-making.

 –  Introduce objectivity into your prioritization process.

 Consider the fact that:

–  Prioritized projects must be executed sequentially. Some minor projects are dependencies for others. Some projects are easy to slot into non-peak times.

–  You only prioritize when you need to make a decision. The earlier you prioritize the more potential problems you can avoid before they become critical.

In this article I tried to explain a high level plan how the projects can be aligned to strategy. If you are new to Corporate PMO, business or strategic PMO and need assistance do contact us or send us your answers and I will personally reply to help you.

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