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How To Tie Your Project Management Process Into Your Strategy
Aligning your projects and your strategy isn’t impossible—especially when you consider these three steps.
If you’re struggling with how to align your projects to your organizational strategy, you’re not alone. In fact, we’ve heard from dozens of companies who aren’t sure how to bring projects into the strategy execution fold—and they worry that there isn’t a good way to do this.
But we’re here to tell you that aligning these two areas of your company isn’t impossible. In fact, we’ve boiled it down to three steps that will help ensure your strategic project management process is tied into your strategy in a way that will help your company be successful.
First, determine if your project management office is part of—or closely connected to—your office of strategy management.
If your primary concern is to execute on project timelines and resources perfectly, having an organizational structure that keeps the project management office on its own island may make sense. For some organizations, highly efficient project teams are more important than the strategic outcomes influenced by such projects.
But many of you are likely more concerned with whether you’re dedicating your resources to the right projects. If you fall into this camp, you’ll want to consider merging your Project Management Office (PMO) with your Strategy Management Office (SMO) in a way that allows you to consider your projects at a more strategic level.
Next, link your projects directly to your strategy.
If you can’t link a project to a high-level company goal, you should question whether you should be doing that project. There are a few exceptions to this rule—say, if you are part of a municipality and are required to execute on certain regulatory projects—but for the most part, this is a simple and effective directive to help you determine if your projects are worth continuing.
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Projects that are linked to your strategy shore up areas of your performance that are failing. For example, let’s say your municipality puts out a citizen satisfaction survey and finds that a large majority of constituents are unhappy with the quality of local roads. While you may have some ongoing operational projects around road maintenance, you might need a project that goes beyond that. Create a project to boost road quality overall, setting a leading indicator of the number of potholes filled to see if your project has made an impact.
Finally, report often on your projects to help demonstrate the execution of your strategy.
Once you put your project into place, you’ll need to monitor activity associated with it and measure progress regularly. We recommend reporting on progress monthly, or quarterly at the very least. Consider subcomponents for each project, like percent complete, percent of budget, and budget total, as well as recommendations drawn from past performance of that project.
Reporting software can make reporting on these elements much simpler and more effective. Your strategy management office may already have a software solution in place; if it’s flexible enough, you should also be able to use it for recording and tracking projects. Here’s an example of how ClearPoint strategy management software enables project reporting:
You want to know if a project is falling behind and impacting your strategy. Use a Project Status Dashboard.
You’ll notice that the projects dashboard above (projects are called initiatives in ClearPoint) shows who owns each project, the budget associated with it, and the milestones (or sub-projects) needed to complete each one.
Get started aligning your projects to your strategy right now.
Changing the way you manage your projects isn’t difficult, but it could make the difference in whether or not your organization meets its goals. Our free strategic project management field guide is a great place to start. Download it today to think more critically about how your projects relate to your strategy, and to take the next steps toward creating a strategy-focused organization.