Projects necessarily implement strategy, even if only at the most tactical level. Thus it is important that the PM have an understanding of strategy in general – and of the organization’s strategy in particular, especially the aspects that are driving the project. Understanding the strategic drivers of the project shapes the timing, quality standards, and cost variables for the project. It also determines the key metrics for measuring progress toward the strategic objectives of the project. This article looks at the extended challenges and responsibilities of the project manager performing strategy implementation on projects – beyond just meeting cost, schedule, and quality metrics.
This is the second of a series of four articles on the subject of strategy implementation, where we explore the dynamics and challenges of taking a strategy through the implementation stage. This article, Part 2 in the series, Strategy Implementation on Projects, looks at the challenges of timing, tying back to strategy, and measuring progress and effectiveness. Part 1 looks at Strategy Implementation on Programs – where a subset of the strategy is implemented in a broad but well-defined initiative. Part 3, Strategy Implementation in Businesses, focuses on the complexities of structuring and managing a business in a new strategic direction. Finally, Part 4, Strategy Implementation in Government, dives into the unique problems of implementing strategies within a government organization.
For successful strategy implementation on projects, PMs need to give some time and effort to a few key areas:
- Understand the Strategy – In the past, it may have seemed acceptable for the PM to manage the project as prescribed – and pay little or no attention to the strategic drivers that were the basis for the project. That is no longer acceptable, as evidenced by the emphasis over the past few years by the Project Management Institute (PMI) on requiring of certified Project Management Professionals (PMP) continuing education in the subject of strategy.
- Define Strategy-driven Metrics – The PM asks, “How will we know we are progressing toward the end goal of the project?” While there are the typical cost, schedule, and quality parameters, there also need to be metrics derived from the strategic objectives of the project that need to be monitored for progress throughout the life cycle.
- Strategy and Timing – As there often is a temporal nature to strategic objectives, the PM and team need to be keenly aware of the need to get certain things in place within a specified time frame – and raise the flag and re-evaluate if there is trouble meeting the deadline.
- Cross-project communication – Projects within a program or even across the organization are related in some ways. There could be commonalities related to timelines, dependencies, overlapping objectives…. Successful strategy implementation within the organization requires a healthy degree of association among PMs across projects to socialize problems, approaches, best practices…and strategic alignment.
- Identify Strategy-related Risks – PMs need to ensure that risks related to veering ‘off strategy’ - or strategy changing or becoming no longer valid – are identified as part of the risk management process.
- Stakeholder Involvement – It is the right thing always to have direct involvement of stakeholders…but it is also important to involve key members from within the organizational hierarchy to ensure continued strategic relevance.
As a project manager, are you ensuring that at each phase the strategic drivers of the project are considered?
This Post is Part of the Series: Strategy Implementation
This is a series of four articles on the subject of strategy implementation, where we explore the dynamics and challenges of taking a strategy through the implementation stage.