In his book, “Project Management Nation,” Jason Charvat looks into Strategic Projects, what they are and how we translate corporate “strategy” into the projects for the organization.
What are Strategic Projects?
Where the project is a component of a broader business sense, it should be assessed as an integral part of the strategic program. All the normal financial assessment rules should be applied. The executive team should pay close attention to those parts of the proposed solution that clearly show the benefits of proceeding with the solution. Managers should ensure that detailed plans for achieving the benefits, and specific responsibility for delivering them, are in place.
IT planning must take account of the intended direction of the business, financial constraints and criteria, and human resource (HR) plans and policies. It must also be flexible enough to cope with any likely response from competitors over the whole project life cycle. Project managers should have a clearly communicated policy for the way to collect, use, and store information in support of the business objectives and the way the systems will enable them to harness the value of this information in the future.
Translating Strategy into Projects
Once the strategy has been determined and has been approved by the company executive team, the responsibility of the project success does not fall only at the feet of the project manager. The chief executive officer (CEO), chief information officer (CIO), directors, functional management, and staff all have specific tangible and intangible roles in the project. In this manner, mutual expectations can be met and benefits realized. For a successful transition from strategy to project, the business must have in place:
- Agreement on what needs changing, and why (this should be clearly supported by the project sponsor)
- A common “language” for analyzing and describing requirements, based on a shared understanding of the business processes across “client,” purchasing, and information systems (IS) departments (don’t assume this is the case)
- Agreed processes that involve the users in the selection and design of systems solutions (consider making a “client,” rather than an IS specialist, the program manager responsible for delivering the business benefits)
- The support of a skilled, experienced technology project manager
Each and every project should have some sort of a mission. The mission identifies the client’s requirements and clearly defines the purpose of the project. A project’s mission must be completed for success of the project. Objectives define the success criteria for the project. The objectives relate directly to the completion of the project’s mission. Completing all of the objectives should accomplish the project’s mission. Measurable objectives provide a method of quantifying the results and establishing quality standards to evaluate the success of the project.