By Conrado Morlan
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a project management symposium in which government and for profit organizations shared their successes in aligning projects with organizational strategy. The takeaways of the sessions are listed below:
Takeaway: Understand how projects impact the business.The CIO of 7-Eleven explained that he had held several leadership positions at the U.S.-based convenience store company — from logistics and merchandising to operations divisions. With that deep knowledge of the business, he was able to reorganize the IT department from a business perspective. The new focus became selecting and strategically structuring priorities that align the IT function and projects with business needs to gain full support from stakeholders, and to execute and prioritize business initiatives through innovative technology.
The 7-Eleven example confirms that strategic and business acumen are part of the next generation of project management skills — or the “talent triangle”— that will assist organizations to effectively and efficiently achieve alignment of projects with strategy.
Takeaway: Set the framework from the start and at every level. Southwest Airlines described how its five strategic initiatives were determined through portfolio management, program management and project management, which set the foundation for the airline’s growth in international markets.
Organizations are finding their employees know what they need to do to perform well in their current jobs, but very few are clear about what is required over the long-term. Therefore, employees need to be familiar with the organization's strategy to understand their role and responsibility and how their contributions will benefit the organization.
While none of the keynote speakers referred formally to Organizational Project Management (OPM) — the strategy execution framework used to align and customize project, program and portfolio management processes to consistently and predictable deliver corporate strategy to produce better results and sustainable competitive advantage— the steps their organizations followed are ones suggested in PMI’s Implementing Organizational Project Management: A Practice Guide.
With the guide, project management practitioners and cross-functional team members can learn how an effective project management methodology and globally accepted best practices integrate with business-specific processes and techniques. In addition, they can learn about tools to help the organization develop a living and evolving methodology that enables the assessment and refinement of its practices.
Has your organization started any effort to elevate the project management discipline to a strategic level? If so, how is it achieving this goal?