It starts with an executive need: a new market evaluation; improve operating margins; a game-changing technology; your competition is eating your lunch. Whatever the reason, a project is how an organization translates an executive strategy.
The ability to scope and deliver a project is a competitive advantage. The best organizations realize project management capability as a strategic differentiator, the lagging organizations only staff project management skills within Information Technology departments.
What is a project:
- a project has a definitive beginning and end;
- a project is a temporary effort, specifically to create a unique product, service, or result;
- a project is not part of business operations, but can develop capability and become part of operations
A note on this: Do not confuse temporary with short duration and do not confuse temporary as something that does not, ultimately, become operational once the project is stabilized or delivered i.e. a new facility or new production technique or Google Chrome OS.
I have come to rely on using the term portfolio planning to describe the translation of strategy to a group of project options an organization can undertake. By using a portfolio view, projects are prioritized using the same risk and return criteria capital expenditures and other financial or strategic commitments are evaluated.
C-level business executives fully understand financial risk and when I link a portfolio of projects as organization risk then projects take their place as business drivers and begin to reveal that the capability to deliver projects is an organization risk.
Organizational planning impacts the projects by means of project prioritization based on risk, funding, and the organization’s strategic plan. Organizational planning can direct funding and support…on the basis of risk categories, specific lines of business, or general types of project*
The ability to scope, plan, and deliver a project on time, on budget, and up to expectation is the business differentiator today. Yet, project management as a profession and as a business enabler has little traction outside IT and within IT has little success — the 2 mutually reinforce misunderstanding and misguided notions of the competitive advantage project management is.
While I worked at Deloitte Consulting and Booz Allen Hamilton they both had a competitive objective to get as many consultants project management certified. This was their strategic go-to-market differentiator. Deloitte and Booz Allen did not want every consultant to act as a project manager, but for every consultant to understand that when the client asks for project changes, while underway, a project management-savvy consultant can model the impact of change to budget, scope, resource, or quality against the project baseline. Every change has effect.
Strategy Goal Portfolio
By using a project management portfolio view I can further quantify the impact of change to executive strategic goals. My role then shifts to business partner, not for me to say,
no, but for me to provide business case detail that my client can use to meet their sponsor’s expectation; every client has a sponsor, everyone has a sponsor.
Although I, as a consultant, have to deliver to the client, I also know the trying to please the client with every change they request will impact expected results. The more detail I gave about that to the client, the more information they have to deliver projects on time, on budget, and within scope. Those new changes can become a second-phase option, abandoned, a new project, or added with a full understanding of impact.
The more the client delivers results, the more I become a trusted advisor and a business partner to that client and I, in turn, separate my value proposition from the self-interested contractor or a staff-augmentation house.
The end is reached when the project’s objectives have been achieved or when the project is terminated because its objectives will not or cannot be met, or when the need for the project no longer exits.*
The majority of projects end when
objectives will not or cannot be met or the project saps the life and resources out of the organization and
the need for the project no longer exits; also known as bankruptcy.
No doubt I got some things wrong, or left out some important ideas. Please let me know what you think and suggestions you have for me to add value.