Strategic Project Management and Why You Should Embrace It
There is no denying the importance of planning, organizing, executing, and managing tasks based on their importance and urgency. It is the central point of any efficient and productive organization — and every workplace preaches the importance of proper project management.
In recent years, however, project management has become less of a mantra, and more of a buzzword. Tons of online articles, project management books, and other resources are available to help professionals, teams, and organizations to manage and prioritize projects. In this push for productivity, however, many people have overlooked one critical component of project management: strategy.
The basics of strategic project management
In its most popular sense today, project management is the process of leading the work of a team to complete tasks and achieve goals within a specified project, time frame, and budget. It uses processes, methodologies, skills, knowledge, and experience in achieving these tasks and goals. Strategic project management (SPM) is not very different from it.
What is strategic project management?
Strategic project management is the process of aligning projects with strategic objectives.
It is the process of combining business strategy and project management to efficiently carry out those strategies and deliver organizational breakthroughs.
Strategic project management is about defining the big picture of how a project can benefit the company’s efficiency as a whole, and not just focusing on how a team or department can meet its deadlines, budgets, and goals.
It combines familiar project management methodologies with business strategy to align projects, teams, and the company as a whole. It links the projects to how it can improve the company’s efficiency and competitiveness.
In SPM, you still apply all of the conventional project management skills and processes, but with the addition of a solid business strategy.
Switching to strategic project management
Strategic project management gives companies the chance to gain a competitive advantage in terms of actually reaping the benefits of proper project management.
Many organizations follow approaches from the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). At the same time, the organizations that embrace this and other related approaches and methodologies have not completely understood and incorporated the concept of business strategy in taking on projects. To make the most out of your company’s potential, you need to identify and choose the right projects.
By doing this selection, you get to find the ideal projects that not only can let your team shine, but also provide the greatest value to the company. As the team works on a project, they get to apply and improve their skill sets, and eventually become more efficient. This augmentation then gets shared with the rest of the organization, and in due course, will be positive for everyone.
Seeing projects through
Strategic project management identifies and incorporates the company’s long-term objectives and goals into projects. With the help of upper management, SPM can better explain why the company does its work and why it operates in certain ways.
As such, it is only logical to ensure that projects support your business strategy. Projects are where tasks get completed and progress is made. It is also where time, energy, and resources get spent. For those reasons, you will want to make sure your tasks and projects are in perfect alignment with the goals of your business strategy.
Here is where you can start.
1. Ensuring projects support business objectives
When you take on projects, make sure that it will work to support the current and future objectives of the company. Make the projects work for you as you work on them. If you apply a new methodology or system, in particular, think about if it will be beneficial for the whole company (and not a one-off endeavor), and if it will be worth the cost in time, money, and human resources.
The projects should also deliver on the objectives — if a project cannot fully satisfy that, think of another approach. Also, since it is about efficiency, check to see if there are too many projects working on only one objective.
The key thing to remember is that every project must be clearly aligned to at least one objective.
2. Working to actually make projects happen
All projects should be properly dissected and managed. That is, you need to make sure you are not wasting any money, time, and other resources. It also means the resource allocation is realistic, time frames are reasonable, and budgets are not over the top. All these ensure you can actually make the projects happen.
3. Staying on top of things
Similar to regular project management, you need to handle your work strategically in SPM. There will be plenty of tasks, deadlines, numbers, and reports to keep track of. Do not lose focus. Keep your eye on the bigger picture (i.e., fulfilling projects while meeting business objectives) as all the little pieces keep moving.
Prioritize projects, delegate, and keep everyone on the same page. There will be a lot of moving pieces, but you do not have to handle all of them. Choose your battles and trust your team to carry out their work properly.
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Takeaway: projects linking back to strategy
The main takeaway of strategic project management is making sure your projects link back to your business strategy. All the work your team does for a client should benefit not only the client but the organization as a whole.
More than the money the client pays, the workflow or system that you apply should also be useful and beneficial for everyone in the company. That way, you are maximizing your efforts and resources, and gradually building towards organizational success.
When you have gone through your portfolio with a robust project portfolio management software and found the gaps, try to work on filling the gaps on your own. If that is not practical, your next best approach is to work with consultants who can help lead you through to fully embracing strategic project management.
Strategic project management is not a new concept. It is just project management made more efficient and taken to a new, bigger level — one where the company as a whole reaps the benefits and not just a team.