The Strategic Alignment of the Project Portfolio (Part 1)

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By Conrado Morlan

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”  —Michael Porter

Over the last two decades, organizations looking to remain competitive have realized that creating a strategic plan is not enough. The smart execution of that strategy is also needed to move an organization to the next stage.

One way to drive better execution is to align the project portfolio with the organization’s strategy. This should encompass all current and future initiatives, programs and projects — including business projects, operations projects, technology projects, etc.

The project portfolio is the strategic plan’s execution framework. It calls for cross-functional efforts that provide a holistic view to the participating areas, and helps them better understand the strategic goals and how their contributions will move the organization to the next level. This instills a sense of ownership among the participants.

Strategically aligning the project portfolio allows an organization to establish an execution approach that will allow it to improve existing processes and optimize the selection and sequence of initiatives.

Leaders should screen, filter, and select programs and projects based on the organizational strategy and — for those selected — they should define:

Roles and responsibilities: Who will be involved, as well as each person’s level of involvement and authority

Stakeholders: Who will be impacted by the initiatives and their level of influence in the organization

Resources: What resources could be assigned to programs and projects, and their current capacity and capabilities to support the selected initiatives

Funding: What funds will be available to implement the selected programs and projects

Risks: What internal and external risks would affect the strategic plan and therefore the portfolio of projects, and what risks will be accepted or mitigated

Benefits Realization: What benefits will be produced by each program and how those will be harvested

To achieve that alignment, the following groups must support the initiative:

  • Executive Group: This group will provide the strategic and portfolio governance guidelines.
  • Project Group: This group will handle portfolio management, focusing on delivering value to the business.
  • Operations Group: This group will ensure the organization can sustainably achieve its strategic goals.

In the second part of this series I will explore how these groups interact to establish the best execution approach and achieve the strategic goals defined in the strategic plan.

As a portfolio, program or project manager, have you been involved in the strategic alignment of the project portfolio in your organization? What was your experience?

 

Posted by Conrado Morlan on: April 15, 2017 07:47 AM | Permalink

Comments (17)

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Well stated Conrado. This is extremely important. No sense to put the effort into strategy if there is no approach to pursue and realize it.

I like this sentence in the article:
"Strategically aligning the project portfolio allows an organization to establish an execution approach that will allow it to improve existing processes and optimize the selection and sequence of initiatives."

Thank you for this article.

Great Read. Informative!!!

Excellent, why do a project/program that is not align with organisation strategy?
Organisation strategy need to be share to be share to insure project make choice accordingly

Interesting series Conrado, and spot on. The alignment of the portfolio and continued re-evaluation of the goals and objectives is crucial to continued organizational growth and success. I look forward to your next article.

Thank you Prachi!

Gracias Eduin!

Renee,
Thank you for your comments. I am glad you find the article interesting. The second part was published yesterday. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Andrew,
I have seen many organizations with a pristine strategy but fail to deliver. The main reason is because the execution was underestimated and missed the main objective of the strategy.

Vincent,
I agree that strategy should be shared across all the levels of the organization but that is not always the case. Sometimes it is only shared with the top level of the organization and not with the rest of the organization that usually participates in the execution.
There are elements that may be confidential in the strategy and may not be required to be shared across the board but if the teams/people involved in the execution are not informed the strategic objectives will not be achieved.

Yes..Agreed.If the team/people involved are not aware of the strategic objectives,they wont be able contribute with a feeling of self-employment,they should know what they are working for.who knows..they may even come up with a more innovative way for the execution,beneficial in terms of time and cost.

This can pass as a concise framework on strategy. Thank you


Well done Conrado!

Developing a strategic vision is key for an organization to align its project initiatives. This helps all employees understand the reason for the execution of projects, and provides a path for prioritization.

Interesting - thanks for sharing

Complex subject stated in simple terms. Looking forward for the next article

I appreciate we still work in organizations where strategies have to be aligned with departments and units. We should however be driving strategies through the organization so there is no "alignment" required.

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