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The Strategic Context of Projects

The Strategic Context of Projects

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Published by: Daisy on Nov 17, 2008
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4.1
SECTION4
THE STRATEGIC CONTEXTOF PROJECTS
4.1 SELLING PROJECT MANAGEMENT TSENIOR MANAGERS 
4.1.1 Introduction
Selling project management to senior leaders requires that they recognizea problem and the need for project management as the best solution. Theproblem that senior leaders have is managing from a strategic point of view and getting the tactical work to align with those high-level goals.Project management, although mature with more than 40 years of devel-opment as a process and discipline, is still not well understood.Bridging the problem from a high-level view to the execution of work may be difficult with the need to have a strategic focus by senior leaders.Implementation of the goals in detail is often not understood by the seniorleaders and left to the mid- to lower-level leaders. There is not the abilityto cascade the thinking from top to bottom.
4.1.2 Background on Strategic Planning
Senior leaders have the nondelegatable responsibility to establish the prin-ciples of work and practices for the organization to follow to achievesuccess for their business. It is important for senior leaders to establish asystem to measure the effectiveness of the strategic planning, through thebusiness process, to the operating level. Through measurement, seniorleaders know what is working and what is not, where successes are mostneeded and where lower priorities may exist.
Source: PROJECT MANAGER’S PORTABLE HANDBOOK
Downloaded from Digital Engineering Library @ McGraw-Hill (www.digitalengineeringlibrary.com)Copyright © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.Any use is subject to the Terms of Use as given at the website.
 
4.2
SECTION FOUR
Senior leaders are concerned with and conduct strategic planning thatis far removed from the operating level. Strategic planning, however, usesthe historical, tactical information from these operating level systems. In-formation flow is piecemeal and inadequate for setting the strategic direc-tion and future of the organizations.Currently, senior leaders seek solutions through improved communi-cation of information and tools to measure performance. What is neededis a management strategy that uses operating units to perform the work and measure performance, analyze the effectiveness of the work beingperformed, and generate information for senior leaders. Project manage-ment does all this and is the choice of many senior leaders today forintensively managing critical aspects of the business.
4.1.3 Recognizing the Problem
Before senior leaders accept any solution, they must recognize the problemand be willing to act on that problem. The problem is clearly identified:‘‘more than 90 percent of organizations fail to effectively communicateand execute their strategic plans because the necessary management andcommunications systems are not in place.’ Organization success is hingedon three requirements:
Having a management system that emphasizes accountability and con-trol
Taking advantage of available resources
Promoting cultural values dedicated to continual improvement that issupported by an appropriate management systemCurrent management systems are not delivering the desired results andthe communication of strategic goals from senior leaders to operating lev-els is weak. The layers of management between the senior leaders andoperating levels preclude effective information flow down and the requiredperformance flow back to the top.One perceived solution to the communication breakdown is to buy newtools. Better information systems are seen as the need while the efficiencyand effectiveness of the operating unit has not changed. More timely andaccurate reporting of the performance data is only one part of the chal-lenge to senior leaders.The management system and operating units retain the same structureand there is little or no improvement in productivity or meeting customerneeds.
THE STRATEGIC CONTEXT OF PROJECTS
Downloaded from Digital Engineering Library @ McGraw-Hill (www.digitalengineeringlibrary.com)Copyright © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.Any use is subject to the Terms of Use as given at the website.
 
THE STRATEGIC CONTEXT OF PROJECTS
4.3
4.1.4 The Solution
Senior management is responsible for its management systems locally andglobally. The management systems locally and globally should be mutu-ally supportive of the strategic goals as well as taking advantages of im-provements across the enterprise. The management system of choice mustbe supportive of both local and global environments.Many organizations have adopted project management as the systemof choice and made significant gains in productivity and performance.Other organizations have accepted project management as one of its op-tions without giving full support. These organizations have ‘‘hired’’ ex-pertise through bringing in several successful project managers from otherorganizations. The hired experts bring a variety of methodologies andpractices that create conflicts.Developing project management as a core competency of an organi-zation is a dedicated effort. Typically, organizations buy the tools ratherthan knowledge and experience. Many organizations do not receive fullvalue because they buy tools. Figure 4.1 compares the most frequent andthe most effective sequence of project management implementation.
Typical Implementation
Tools
Skills Training
Methodology
PM Knowledge Training
Techniques
Standards
Preferred Implementation
Methodology
Standards
PM Knowledge Training
Skills Training
Techniques
Tools
vs.
FIGURE4.1
Project management implementation sequence.
4.1.5 Benefits of Project Management
Project management, as a process to meet an organization’s needs forperforming a variety of work, has provided significant benefits. The gen-eral list of benefits for all organizations are as follows:
Balance competing demands and prioritize the work that provides themost advantage to the organization
THE STRATEGIC CONTEXT OF PROJECTS
Downloaded from Digital Engineering Library @ McGraw-Hill (www.digitalengineeringlibrary.com)Copyright © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.Any use is subject to the Terms of Use as given at the website.

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