22 Mar Strategic Project Management
What is Strategic Project Management?
Strategic Project Management (SPM) is the process of thinking about your Projects in light of their connection to your strategic plan. In other words, Strategic Project Management is about forming clear links between your Projects and Strategic Objectives.
The premise of Strategic Project Management is that ‘Projects’ should actually work to achieve the goals and objectives outlined in your strategy.
This is why thinking in terms of strategic project management is key. Strategic Project Management isn’t just about the process of project-managing big and important projects, it’s about designing and managing your portfolio of Projects to ensure that it supports your strategy, by ensuring that:
- The mix of Projects is appropriate and sufficient to deliver your Strategic Objectives
- Your Projects are appropriately resourced
- If timelines and resourcing have to be changed, Projects are prioritized accordingly based on the strategic plan, and impacts reflected in the plan.
So, how do you ensure that you are building a portfolio of Projects that will help you execute your strategy by actually delivering on your Objectives?
What’s the Difference Between Strategic Project Management & Project Management?
There’s a lot of overlap between traditional project management and strategic project management. That’s because the ‘strategic’ part of the phrase is essentially talking about applying a ‘strategic lense’ to your existing portfolio of projects.
That means that you’ll still apply all of your traditional project management skills and processes to strategic project management, but in addition project management teams need to manage the wider business aspects of their projects to better support and align with organizational strategy, rather than just being concerned with meeting standard project management issues – time, budget etc.
Make sure your Projects actually happen
Every Project must be realistically resourced – Time, money, skills: there are never enough to go around, and they are probably the most important element of actually delivering on a Project. This means you must have:
- Estimated the Project needs – Get ahead of things: make sure every Project that you’re proposing has at least a high level time, cost, and resourcing estimate. You’ll find that this will pay dividends when you come to try and prioritize – you’ll get caught needing to do it anyway, and may be under more time pressure at that point.
- Budgeted for the Project – For real. Who’s team is it in? Whose budget is it coming from? For some organizations everything comes from one bucket of people and money, in others you may have a complicated Opex/Capex request process. Either way, if it’s not in someone’s budget, you can guarantee it won’t happen.
- The Project timelines must align with your Objectives – We see this all the time. An Objective will be set in a management meeting, and then some time down the line someone figures out what actually needs to be done, creates the Projects… and the timelines just don’t stack up. Something has to change, either the Projects or the Objectives, but bite the bullet and make sure it does – if you don’t, your plan becomes unrealistic, which means it won’t be credible, which means it won’t be useful.
- Every Project must have an Owner – Critical. Someone needs to be interested in the delivery of the Project, they need to be responsible for getting it off the ground and delivered, and they need to have the authority to make all this work. The Project will only happen if all these three things are true.
- Govern your Projects strategically – Every Objective will have its own mix of Projects, and then there is the mix of Projects across the whole strategic plan (in bigger plans you will even be thinking in terms of the mix within different business areas, departments etc.).
- Prioritize Projects strategically across the whole portfolio – Change will happen, you can guarantee that. How you handle it will seriously affect the execution of your plan – when the internal or external environment, available resources, strategic needs etc change, you need to prioritize Projects strategically across the whole plan, based on the needs of the Objectives.
Strategically Managing your Project Mix, and your Portfolio/Program Management Approach
We’ve focused here on the element of Strategic Project Management that relates to designing and managing the right project mix to achieve your Objectives, and therefore deliver on your strategy.This absolutely relates to areas of portfolio and program management – depending on your organizational structure and practices, this kind of Project mix management is certainly part of your portfolio and program management process.