Although most project management methodologies across professional fields and industries tend to focus on driving or achieving deadlines and project goals, project outcomes can still be misaligned with organizations’ business strategies. This is caused by many factors, but most important to note are people’s tacit views and motives, and organizations’ lack of strategic project planning and oversight.
One area in project management that is identified but often overlooked is that people are the key to the process, as they are the ones who drive the processes and produce deliverables. I will go further to say that a mental alignment of project individuals with organizations’ strategies is most important to achieving project success. This leads to a whole new discussion of the importance of shared values, vision and strategy throughout an organization or within the project team (to be discussed in future series). Too often tacit views or motives of individuals, whether internal or external stakeholders, have led to behaviors and choices that have impacted cost, quality and scope negatively, and forced projects into slipping or abandonment.
Project audits should evaluate whether or not the project outcomes are misaligned. For example, if the company’s competitive advantage is to hire the best and most qualified workforce, or to put forth the best products and services then all HR, IT and other related departments must execute policies, procedures, processes, and people and technology that achieve these outcomes. This seems intuitive at the onset but how many projects actually accomplish strategic alignment and how many are actually audited for these results?
The challenge is ours as strategic project managers to ensure that projects are aligned to business strategy or objectives. We must ensure that strategic project management and its methodologies tie business strategy to company projects, ensuring alignment. My experience working on small entrepreneurial, as well as large projects within organizations evidenced that individual behaviors generally lead to similar outcomes. I found that one key factor that made a huge difference in managing behaviors was how the environment around the project was managed. Many times, technology and other deliverables become the focus of the project that stakeholders are forgotten and strategic outcomes forgotten. The fact that people are in the driver’s seat of every project is forgotten and management of the project environment is lost.