How can an organisation ensure that it is consistently choosing the right projects as part of its change strategy?
For an organisation to run a consistently successful change program it should be focused on three fundamental objectives:
- Is the organisation doing the right projects?
- At the right time?
- In the right way?
The last two objectives are disciplines very familiar to all project professionals: portfolio management and project delivery. However the first objective, ‘doing the right projects’, is more often than not well beyond the influence of project managers and it is here sub-standard investment decisions can be made off the back of poorly developed strategy.
But how can an organisation take steps to ensure its strategy is fit for purpose at any given point in time and therefore the project slate being delivered is the right one for effecting change?
This is not easy but there are a number of actions a change executive can take, or risks to be mindful of, to ensure success.
Create an effective, repeatable forum to develop the strategy
Finite resources – in particular, money – determine which projects are prioritised, as no organisation can implement every project opportunity. A suitable forum must, therefore, be established with the right people and tools to enable the strategy to be developed with a sufficient amount of critical thinking going into the project selection process to ensure it is fit for purpose. The process also needs to repeatable, not a one-off.
He who shouts loudest should not always get the money
Developing a strategy is by its very nature a competitive process. When strategies are being developed, it’s important that self-interest is taken out of the equation. The people responsible for delivering the strategy need to think and operate as a collective for the greater good of the organisation and prioritise projects accordingly. Always applying oil to the squeaky wheel is not necessarily the best use of an organisation’s finite project delivery capability.
Flexibility is good but…
Strategies should not remain static, as they need to evolve to meet changing business environments.
However, if they change too frequently there will be an adverse impact on the organisation’s ability to deliver projects. Nothing disrupts an organisation’s delivery capability more than continually chopping and changing project priorities.
A process and timetable need to be developed that ensures the strategy can be flexible but not at the expense of continually disrupting the in-flight project slate.
Make the connection between strategy and project delivery
Whoever is ultimately responsible for strategy should have a very good understanding of what is required to prioritise and then deliver the projects to meet the strategy’s objectives.
Some projects are too ambitious at a point in time and perhaps cannot be delivered or need to be broken down and executed over a longer period than the strategy allows. The organisation can save a significant amount of planning time, or project churn, if those responsible for the strategy have a very good understanding of the organisations project delivery processes and the organisations’ project delivery limitations.
A constant challenge
Developing and maintaining a relevant strategy that will meet an organisation’s goals is a continual challenge. This should never be done in isolation without a good understanding of the project delivery capability and capacity.
The above list is not exhaustive but is an indicator of where attention should be focused to help ensure an organisation is always doing the right projects, at the right time in the right way.
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