Sunday, 12 January 2014

Strategic Destinations in Project Management

Strategic Destinations in Project Management

To be honest, anyone can develop a project plan that says we will accomplish this step by that date. A project plan can actually be a simple list of activities or it can be a complex multiyear, multiteam program. Either way, an important element that should be incorporated is the strategic approach if the project is going to be an integral component of success planning.

Strategic project planning requires a lot more than just listing a set of activities leading to a goal. Strategic planning is visionary and proactive in that it serves as a link between the overall company mission and the project tasks. If a project plan is a roadmap, the strategic component is the actual highways linking results and flowing to and from the company vision. With strategic planning you dont jump from point to point, but rather flow to the next destination while always bearing in mind the ultimate mission of the organization.

Strategic planning sometimes seems to take a backseat when economic times are good. When consumers are spending, global markets are active, and businesses are flourishing, profits often seem to flow like milk and honey in the Promised Land. But when economic conditions sour, sales can suddenly begin to deteriorate and profits erode quicker than was thought possible. With the 2008 economic crisis has come renewed interest in long range planning that incorporates strategies that support company missions. It is becoming apparent as the analysis begins that many corporations lost sight of their ultimate mission, began to take on risky projects that violated their company vision in the marketplace, and as a result are ending up in bankruptcy courts around the country. The stunned looks on stockholder faces speak volumes.

When a business becomes involved in a new project, the project must be strategically designed. In strategic project planning the question becomes much broader than where is the project going or how will the project achieve its goals. It becomes a question of how the project is going to support the corporate mission while increasing competitiveness and which success strategies will fully sustain the corporate vision. When managers choose the wrong strategies and chase the wrong goals in violation of the corporate mission, long term success is difficult to maintain.

Living and Breathing Project Management

Strategic planning and management implies a proactive approach to project management. You dont just establish a project plan and then hope all goes well. Strategic planning includes the ability to respond to changes in the working and external environments. That ability exists because the project was aligned with the mission of the company.

In other words, if you are true to the company vision while developing, implementing and governing a project, the project manager can respond to even an extreme crisis in a productive manner. If the project was developed way off the vision base and violates the corporate mission, there is a good chance an economic crisis will quickly lead to failure.

A strategic approach to project management incorporates the following features as a minimum:

Identification of how project supports mission

Defining how project meets market niche needs

Incorporating company resources which will most likely lead to project success

Establishing benchmarks which measure both project progress and how that progress indicates continued support of company mission

Creating contingency plans for responding to changing economic environments while remaining true to corporate mission and values

Project planning and management is unfortunately often viewed as a static process made up of a series of steps and the creation of reports. A strategically managed project can make a company stronger and better able to meet whatever crisis should ensue.

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