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Posted: May 5, 2015
By: Janet A. Johnson
Although most project management methodologies across professional fields and industries tend to focus on driving or achieving deadlines and project goals, project outcomes can still be misaligned with organizations’ business strategies. Yet project alignment is key to ensuring business strategies are achieved. Misalignment is caused by many factors, but most important to note are:
One area in project management that is identified but often overlooked is that people are the key to the process. This is true because people are necessary to drive the project management processes and produce deliverables. Therefore, ensuring the mental alignment of project individuals with project goals, as well as organizations’ business strategies, is most important to achieving project success. This points to the importance of communicating and creating shared values, vision and strategies throughout organizations or within project teams.
2. People’s tacit views and motives
Another factor that hinders project alignment is individual’s unvoiced views. Too often tacit views or motives of individuals, whether internal or external stakeholders, have led to unexpected behaviors and choices that have impacted cost, quality and scope negatively, and forced projects into slipping or abandonment. Identifying key stakeholders and encouraging open and frequent communication helps to alleviate this issue of hidden views and behaviors.
3. Ignoring the project environment
Another factor that makes a huge difference in managing behaviors is how the environment around the project is managed. No matter the size of the project, it is important to pay attention to both the internal and external project environments. This includes corporate and local belief systems, culture and circumstances, as well as their potential impact on the project. Many times, technology and other deliverables become the focus of the project with stakeholders and strategic outcomes forgotten. The fact that people are in the driver’s seat of every project is also forgotten, and management of the project environment is lost.
4. Organizations’ lack of strategic project planning and oversight
The challenge is ours as strategic project managers to ensure that projects are aligned to business strategies or objectives. To achieve this, project managers should ensure that their project plans include ways of tying project outcomes to business strategies. Sometimes, however, project managers are forced to compromise project planning and oversight because of imposed constraints to delivery. In such cases, the risks due to project misalignment should be highlighted and clearly communicated to stakeholders.
Additionally, project audits are important and should evaluate whether or not the project outcomes are misaligned. For example, if the company’s competitive advantage is to hire the best and most qualified workforce, or to put forth the best products and services then all HR, IT and other related departments must execute policies, procedures, processes, people and technology that achieve these outcomes. This seems intuitive at the onset but how many projects actually accomplish strategic alignment and how many are actually audited for these results?
People hold the key to success! Encourage project managers and stakeholders, in general, to share ideas on how to ensure projects are aligned with organizations’ strategies. The sharing of ideas is intended to bring people into communal agreement on how to move forward. However, it does not stop there! This is just the beginning of ensuring project alignment. Taking the same approach in gathering lessons learned for knowledge management and transfer by sharing thoughts, challenges, or successes will help to continually improve project strategy and project management outcomes. Finally, ensure project outcomes are also audited against business strategies.
Hi, I am Janet A Johnson a Management Consultant and Life Coach with over 15 years strategic program/project management and business management experience. I am the owner of StrategyNook LLC, a consultancy agency specializing in strategic project management, business management, web development, branding, internet/social media marketing, life coaching and stress management. Schedule your free consultation today and let's talk strategy and customized solutions.
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