Strategic Project Management (SPM) is an approach to project management that aligns project activities with an organization's overall business strategy. It involves integrating project management principles with strategic planning and execution to ensure that projects contribute to the organization's long-term goals and objectives.

SPM focuses on the bigger picture, emphasizing the importance of understanding and supporting the organization's strategic direction.  

Here are key elements of strategic project management, including strategy and stages.

Strategic Project Selection vs Business Case

Focusing solely on strategic project selection over a business case approach can lead to several downsides for organizations. These challenges stem from potential misalignments between strategic goals and practical, tangible outcomes directly impacting the organization's bottom line and operational efficiency. Below are the critical downsides of prioritizing strategic project selection without adequate consideration of the business case:

Neglect of Financial Viability: 

Strategic project selection might prioritize alignment with long-term goals over immediate financial returns, potentially sidelining projects that could offer significant short-term financial benefits. This approach can lead to investments in projects that, while strategic, may not be financially sustainable or offer a clear return on investment (ROI).

Limited Responsiveness to Market Changes: 

Projects selected based on long-term strategic goals may not be as flexible or responsive to sudden market shifts or emerging opportunities. This can result in missed opportunities to capitalize on trends or innovations that could have provided competitive advantages or addressed immediate market needs.

Resource Misallocation: 

Strategic project selection can sometimes lead to allocating resources to projects based more on their alignment with strategic visions than on their expected performance or impact. This can result in inefficient use of resources, diverting them away from potentially more impactful projects with more robust business cases.

Difficulty in Measuring Success: 

Projects chosen for strategic reasons may have more abstract and longer-term goals, making them harder to measure in terms of success or failure. Unlike projects selected based on a business case, which often have clear, quantifiable objectives and metrics, strategic projects might struggle with establishing concrete performance indicators.

Overemphasis on Vision Over Practicality: 

There's a risk of becoming too focused on achieving a vision or strategic goal at the expense of practical, operational considerations. This could lead to pursuing projects that, while visionary, might not address current operational inefficiencies or contribute to improving day-to-day business processes.

Potential for Strategic Drift: 

Relying heavily on strategic project selection can sometimes lead to a drift from an organization's core competencies or operational strengths, especially if the strategic goals are not well-aligned with the organization's existing capabilities or market realities.

Challenge in Stakeholder Buy-In: 

Projects selected mainly for their strategic alignment may face challenges in gaining buy-in from stakeholders, especially if the immediate benefits or contributions to the bottom line are unclear. This can lead to resistance or lack of support from key stakeholders, including investors, employees, and customers.

Opportunity Costs

Undertaking strategic projects will require resources from the organization. Accepting this strategic project will come at a cost for other projects in the organization's pipeline.  Strategic projects are often not closely connected to an imminent business case and yet are often, from experience, prioritized over projects that present an acceptable business case.  The strategic project is like a bet, a riskier bet than projects with a strong business case, on some future condition in the market.

Risk of Long-Term Commitments to Uncertain Outcomes: 

Strategic projects often require long-term commitments in terms of resources and time. There is a risk that these commitments are made to projects whose outcomes are uncertain or whose strategic relevance may change due to external factors beyond the organization's control.

Stages of the Project

There are some slight differences between strategic projects; however, by and large, the sequence is the same. After all, it is still a project.  The difference will be in the upfront as the justification for the project is often slightly different than immediate financial payback.  Return on Investment (ROI) and Payback Period economic models do not typically bind these projects.

Strategic Alignment:

This involves understanding the organization's mission, vision, and strategic objectives. Project managers must ensure that their projects contribute to achieving these strategic goals. They align project objectives with the broader strategic direction of the organization. For strategic projects, it is even more critical to have engaged sponsors.  

The project will often be challenged for priority and resources in competing projects more closely connected to a profitable business case and temporal proximity to income generation. 

Project Selection: 

In this stage, potential projects are evaluated based on their alignment with the organization's strategy, feasibility, potential return on investment, and other factors. Projects that best support the organization's strategic objectives are selected for implementation. The strategic projects have longer-term selection criteria.


Once a project is selected, it enters the initiation phase. During this stage, project objectives are defined, stakeholders are identified, and the team is assembled. The project manager creates a project charter, which outlines the project's purpose, scope, objectives, deliverables, and constraints.  

A strong focus on the project sponsor’s input. We will need to have this person’s energy and focus when it comes to maintaining focus on the project throughout its life.


This stage involves developing a detailed project plan. Key tasks include defining project scope, creating a work breakdown structure, estimating resources and durations, identifying risks, and developing a schedule and budget. The project plan serves as a roadmap for executing and controlling the project.


In the execution phase, the project plan is put into action. The project team carries out the tasks outlined in the plan, and progress is monitored against the schedule and budget. The project manager provides leadership, resolves issues, and communicates with stakeholders to ensure the project stays on track.

Monitoring and Controlling: 

The project manager monitors progress, performance, and quality against the project plan throughout the project lifecycle. They identify variances from the plan and take corrective action to keep the project on course. This may involve reallocating resources, adjusting schedules, or revising the project plan.


The project is closed once the objectives have been met and deliverables have been delivered to stakeholders' satisfaction. This involves formally ending the project, documenting lessons learned, and transitioning any remaining work or deliverables to the appropriate parties. The project team is disbanded, and resources are released for other projects or activities.

Throughout these stages, strategic project management requires a focus on completing tasks and ensuring that the project contributes value to the organization's strategic goals. It involves constant alignment with the organization's strategy, effective stakeholder communication, and proactive management of risks and changes.


Strategic Project Management ensures that projects are executed efficiently and contribute significantly to an organization's strategic objectives. It requires a comprehensive approach that integrates strategic thinking into every stage of the project management process.

Some project scope is not well connected to financials for the organization and as such it is subject to longevity risks.  A project with a tenuous business case may be one of the first things axed in times of hardship or a shift in priorities.