Strategy & Projects

scope

In ever organization there is myth that comes after every 5 years and people call it strategy. It’s a myth for many people but at the top management is mostly clear about what they are going to do in next five years. The strategy  is derived from the vision and mission and it defines where the organization is and where organization wants to go and how to get there.

Understanding Strategy

Strategy is usually developed by consultants after talking to the organization and giving a book.  Mostly the consultant give the stuff that is never used. So the organization after the consultants are gone tries to read the book and try to distribute the puzzle of strategy by distributing it different departments in the organization.  Some departments try and initiate some projects , some departments try to understand and after six months as there is no follow-up on strategy ;the book is closed and every department goes into their routine operational stuff. The cycle is repeated after every two to three years without yielding any results and spending a lot of money on the consultants.  The result is people hate strategy and don’t like projects anymore as they consider it waste of time and useless effort where at the end no result is going to come out.

Now let’s talk about the simple project. Every organization and literally ever department is doing some projects. Some call even the operations as project. Some do the projects as unique tasks. Every department informs the management we are doing a lot of projects for improvement, and most of them are on papers , no proper reporting of the projects and no follow up some projects do complete but they complete when they are no more required or not relevant. As there is no coordination sometimes the same projects comes up from two different department resulting in wasting the organization resources. I will try to explain with this famous picture the concept of doing the projects.

 

In order to understand why projects fail lets discuss how the projects start and then how they complete towards the end. Project is usually an idea in the mind of customer, sponsor or someone in the department.  So they are not clear when they are initially thought. So the right way is to discuss the project with the right people. If it’s a small project the head of department might be the only person who can understand and approve it.

Let’s say that the project affects more than one projects or it is a crucial for the strategy so the project has to go through the strategy department and the rest of the departments that are involved. Now the question here is that when the project is really in the initial stages how the buy-in is possible for someone who has just thought of an idea.  So the picture defines how a customer or initiator can have the idea in initial stages where he knows the end result in his mind but cannot explain it well.

The other angel is how the people have perceived the project , If project initiator cannot explain the project well then everyone have a different shape of the end result of the project.

So the project has many ways to be looked at, it is really important that the project is clarified before it is initiated.

Lack of Communication :

Usually most of the projects fail due to lack of communication  between stakeholders sometimes the project is not communicated in the right way and it results in lack of understanding of the project from the other party and that leads to resistance.  Sometime even the project is not communicated well to project manager by the initiator or sponsor so if the project has not been explained well it is definitely not going to finish in the right way.

Lack of Standard

Each department executing the projects follows its own best approaches to complete the project so a standard approach is always missing. The projects executed in one department might follow different methods to complete than the other department so there is always lack of standard approach.

Lack of Planning

The projects start without any planning and having no plans means no project.  People come up with various arguments and reason not to plan such as

  1. Our project is too large to plan
  2. Our project is too small to plan
  3. Planning is waste of time and effort
  4. Planning commits me to something that I must stick to at all times, even when the world around me has changed.
  5. The project is evolving and the situation is changing on a daily basis
  6. We are too deep fire-fighting the project and have no time to plan at this point
  7. We believe in adaptive processes rather than a predictive planning
  8. The consultant is responsible for project plan
  9. Requirements are always changing
  10. Management has given us fixed end-date, so our plan doesn’t count

Lack of monitoring during execution

Lack of monitoring during the execution phase also is a major source for project failure.

The best solution  to these problem is the PMO which is created with the complete support from Management.

A PMO creates a level of coordination that is difficult to achieve on an ad hoc project management basis. There’s more clarity, there’s greater strategic focus, and there’s a greater ability to coordinate projects efficiently.”

In order to do things right the first time , the organizations should have a PMO which looks into each portfolio and then comes up with the right portfolio mix derived from strategy. This should be duly approved by the management and be tracked on regular basis by PMO. If your PMO  is doing things right and helping you resolve the issue there is a great chance of achieving the outcome.

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