Project Management

Balance Adaptive Planning with Long-Term Focus

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

The idea that you can set a strategy with approved and funded projects 18 months in advance is now completely outdated. Global competition makes it harder to predict how industries will evolve within one or two quarters, let alone one or two years. And technological advancements continue to redefine what organizations can achieve. At the same time, customer demands remain hard to predict in most industries, requiring the ability to adjust and respond when customer behavior varies from expectations.

Organizations are recognizing this new reality with a double-edged response. First, they are shortening planning windows, approving projects by quarter, or at least revisiting approval decisions every quarter. This allows them to validate or shift their plans in response to technological disruption, competitor actions, customer demands, or any other external factor. For many organizations this approach is now fairly mature, having been in place for several years, and the overall concept is approaching mainstream acceptance.

Second, organizations are empowering project teams to further adjust and shift projects in response to external factors during project execution. These tend to be minor shifts and allow for fine-tuning of approval decisions between the launch of a project and the delivery of its outputs. Though some organizations are reluctant to provide this degree of …

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