When companies spend money on projects that don't align with their strategic objectives, they end up wasting time and money. Without clear objectives, teams struggle to understand whether their activities are achieving desired outcomes. This post explains how project management techniques can help you align your projects with business strategy.
Effective project management doesn't happen by accident — it takes deliberate planning and execution. A successful project team will identify a long-term goal and then develop specific, measurable tasks to achieve that outcome. Once we know what we're trying to accomplish, we need to make sure all of our resources, tools, and processes support the goals.
What is a Project?
It's a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.
As a part of process improvement, Quality Managers have to deal with multiple improvement opportunities. However, they have limited time and resources to perform these improvement projects. That necessitates the need to be selective when choosing a project.
What is the Strategic Alignment of Projects?
One of the most straightforward approaches to select will be to look at the financial results of the outcome, such as Return on Investment, Cost to Benefit analysis etc. You choose the project that gives the highest financial results.
However, a much better way to select would be to choose it based on its alignment with the organization's overall strategy. Some of the examples of organizational strategy are:
- Improved Quality / Efficiency
- Improved customer satisfaction
Usually, strategic alignment involves both financial goals and non-financial objectives.
The first step toward aligning the project management process and strategic objectives are to identify them. We start by asking questions like: What is our overall mission or purpose? How do our products and services contribute to meeting that purpose? What are our customers' needs? Are there any barriers preventing us from delivering more value in these ways?
Ensuring Alignment of the Project and Strategic Objectives
Project managers use several steps to ensure that their projects stay aligned with company strategy. These steps include:
- Defining the project's purpose or objective
- Establishing a plan to get there (Plan)
- Measuring progress against the plan (Do and Check)
- Reviewing and adjusting as needed (Act)
We'll discuss each of these steps in more detail below.
1. Define Your Project's Purpose
The first step in any project is to define its purpose clearly. How do we want our project to contribute to the organization? What does success look like? It helps to think about your project from the customer's perspective. If you ask yourself, "What would I value most if my project succeeded?" you might uncover some hidden opportunities for improvement.
2. Establish a Plan to Get There
Every project has an overall goal, but many projects also have subgoals. The key to effective project management is developing a plan to reach those goals. This means defining every task required to complete the project, including identifying who will perform them and when. You should also consider how much effort each task requires since it affects the amount of time and cost needed to complete the project.
3. Measure Progress Against the Plan
Once you have defined the steps required to meet your project's goal, measuring progress is essential. Measuring progress ensures that your project stays focused on delivering expected results while avoiding unnecessary delays. By tracking progress, you can quickly determine which parts of the project require additional attention.
4. Review and Adjust As Needed
If you notice that your project isn't progressing as planned, you may need to adjust your plans. Perhaps the project's scope has changed, or you've discovered a better way to deliver the product. Either way, you must continually review and reevaluate your project so that you remain on course toward your ultimate goal.