Strategy and corporate planning might seem like the domain of others, but project managers in today’s environment need to be familiar their corporation’s strategic goals. Here are six reasons why.
- Project evaluation.
- Decision making.
- Team building.
- Resisting project cancellation (or other adverse outcome).
- Stay on track.
These days companies evaluate projects (and project managers) based on implementation of strategy. Even if you bring your project on time, on budget, and with the right deliverables, it will not be considered a success if it does not align with the strategy of the company. Remember, specifications from upper management become less reliable as the environment becomes less predictable. Project management used to be like playing in a marching band – There was a set score and you just had to adhere to it to be successful. Nowadays it’s more like a rock concert, where you have to be able to improvise a bit as you go along.
A good understanding of your company’s strategy will ensure you make good decisions at the project level. For example, if the corporate strategy is to be the first to market with the project outcome, you will know to focus on maintaining the schedule. However, if the corporate strategy is to have the most efficient operations, you will know that quality of work and reducing costs will be the biggest factor.
Knowledge of corporate strategy will help you develop your team because it will help you clarify project goals for the team. The presence of common goals is one of the biggest motivators in development of a well functioning project team. Studies of project failures often cite the lack of clear and common goals as a factor in the project failure. Aligning the project with company strategy also makes the goals of the project more relevant to every department in the organization and this helps in developing a cross-functional team.
Resisting Project Cancellation (or other adverse outcome)
A project that is poorly aligned with corporate strategy is not a secure one. If you want your project to survive the long haul, it needs to be aligned with corporate strategy.
Stay on Track
Every project I know of receives organizational pressures that serve self-seeking, short term interests. A strong alignment with corporate strategy will keep things on track and prevent that notorious scope creep. Project managers need to continually ask the following questions:
- Is the project staying focused on the customer?
- Will the outcome be superior to the competition?
- Does the outcome support the corporate strategy?
- Is the project staying within organizational risk tolerances?
- Will the outcome optimize the triple constraints of cost, duration and outcome?
- Will the project provide high value for the customer?
- Can the project provide a sufficient return on investment?