At first, delving into ‘strategic alignment in project management’ seems no less than a grueling task. However, it is extremely important for project success. Besides, creating its framework and implementing it is quite easy. You’ll soon see that in this blog!
Now, each project is a new venture, bringing its own set of challenges. And, without a strategy in place, managing projects is like driving without a map, that too in a new city!
Thus, it is ideal to define a strategy before you jumpstart project execution. Also, this is where using a good enterprise project management software comes into play.
Let’s start with the basics first. We’ll understand what strategic alignment is in project management, its importance, and how to implement it so that you can successfully run the project from start to finish with all guns blazing!
What Is Strategic Alignment in Project Management?
Strategic alignment in project management is aligning the project goals with your organization’s long-term vision and mission.
Contrary to what might come to your mind on hearing ‘strategic alignment in project management, the term just does not only refer to setting and adhering to key financial metrics. It is a fairly wide concept, involving everything from important financial and quality indicators to customer satisfaction, brand recognition, and value proposition.
Understanding strategic alignment in project management is easy when you know why you are working on a project. Every project has its purpose. While some may aim to deliver a service or product, others may aim to attain intangible benefits, say positive customer relationships or company goodwill. These strategic goals drive your everyday business efforts and transition your ideas into desired outcomes.
Importance of Strategic Alignment in Project Management
Now, before you jump the gun to comprehend how to align business strategy with your project management framework, we’ll look at why you need to devise strategies while working on projects in the first place.
Let’s dive in.
1. Focus Your Energy in the Right Direction
While managing projects, it’s easy to get lost in project tasks, deadlines, and resources. Also, it’s easier to lose track of what you and your team set out to achieve in the long run.
This is why you must understand the importance of strategic alignment and align your processes in tune with the defined company strategies. This will enable you to work efficiently and productively, saving time and effort at the same time.
Thus, strategic alignment will come in handy every time that you start working on a project, especially when dealing with time-bound projects.
2. Enable Productive Team Collaboration
Wondering how the strategy will help enable productive team collaboration?
Let’s take a scenario. Suppose a project manager, X, distributes tasks to the team members and asks them to submit these tasks within the set timeline. Then, there is another project manager, Y, who distributes tasks to team members and also briefs them about the purpose. Y explains the reasons behind why the said tasks are important and how achieving these tasks will get them closer to achieving their overall company goals.
Whose team do you think will be more geared towards completing the project as desired? Most definitely, Y’s team!
Not convinced why?
Well, team motivation is not something that you can neglect. When team members are motivated, they are capable of conquering tasks beyond what is expected of them. A simple action of reiterating the organization’s strategic goals before you set out to execute a project creates a sense of belonging. Also, such motivation is fuel enough to get things done faster without requiring regular follow-ups from anybody.
Read More: How to Build High Performing Teams (10 Ways)
3. Spell out the Competitive Advantages of the Organization
As a project manager, do you think your organization has any competitive advantage? If yes, great. If not, what are you still doing in that company! Run for a better one then!
The truth is, as a project manager leading projects and teams, you must be confident in the ability of your organization to outperform its competitors. Because, if you yourself do not have the faith in its vision, you cannot convey the same to your team members. And, one can only give their 100% when they are confident in the ability of their organization to scale in the future. This is because if the organization benefits, its workforce benefits as a result too.
So what you can do is revisit the organization’s capabilities and clarify these to the employees. Feel free to cater to their queries and answer all questions to the best of your ability and knowledge.
4. Create Role Clarity for Employees
Do you find it challenging to handle team members because they did not intuitively take up a task they were supposed to? Or have you encountered trouble while allocating tasks to team members because they feel that they are going beyond their duties to ‘help’ with ongoing project tasks?
Well, if your team members face trouble trying to figure out what their exact roles and responsibilities are in the organization, then as a project manager or a team leader, you’re the one to be blamed.
Team members should be absolutely clear about what is expected of them from day one. One simply cannot afford to waste time and effort trying to explain why they need to carry out a particular task on an everyday basis. If team members are clear about their roles and responsibilities and how each one contributes to the organization’s strategic goals, they themselves will come forward and commit to their completion within the set timeframe.
5. Manage Conflicting Priorities
There are times when you may run into conflicting priorities. A situation like this is pretty common, and this is precisely where your skills as a leader are put to the test.
When you come across such a situation, the first thing you do is to remain calm and not send your team and yourself into a frenzy. Next, analyze the various aspects and arrive at a decision as to which project should be treated as a top priority. Consult stakeholders and team members. This way, you will get a better perspective of the ground reality which will help you in concluding which of the two priority work tasks need to be ‘attacked’ first.
You will realize that it’s not as difficult as it seemed to be in the beginning. Just re-schedule a few deadlines and resources, and you’ll soon be able to deliver all existing tasks in a flurry!
6. Empower Employees to Lead Change
Understanding the importance of strategic alignment in project management is being aware of the fact that your team members are your biggest assets. They don’t just help you accomplish existing work but also set the tone for all future endeavors.
It’s important to understand that working in an organization is a mutually beneficial relationship. The organization cannot survive without your efforts. Likewise, you too need the organization to cater to your basic life needs.
Thus, foster a dynamic work environment that appreciates employee efforts and provides them a space that lets them grow individually and as a professional. For example, allow them the freedom to explore and give their input on how their workplace can be a better place to work. Why is this necessary? A happier workforce is the recipe for long-lasting success that reflects a positive work environment due to the inspiring company culture.
7. Avoid Redundancies
Having a strategic plan helps avoid redundancies while managing projects. This translates to minimized or no wastage of time, effort, and resources, which is the true cost of facing redundancies.
So if you have proactively charted a strategic plan, chances are that your plan will follow the defined path and rarely bounce off track midway, avoiding disruption and consequent project delays.
Note that your project might need a backup plan that will come into use in case it demands more resources, manpower, equipment, etc. This is a necessity that should not be ignored and definitely should not be categorized as a redundancy.
8. Embrace Market Maneuverability
In an ever-evolving business environment, things are never black and white. Thus, unsurprisingly, a company’s objectives are rapidly changing.
This means that you should be prepared and on your toes to implement changes right away, especially in scenarios that need immediate action to adapt to new market requirements. This involves team members adapting to market volatility and producing project results that are in sync with required changes.
How to Align Business Strategy With Your Project Management Procedure
Ready to finally align business strategy with your project management procedure? We’ve done all the groundwork, so you can immediately get to work by following the below-mentioned steps.
Let’s get started!
1. Identify Your Company’s Vision and Mission
To align your processes to strategy, you first need to identify what are the vision and mission statements of your company. You need to discover what it is that the company seeks to achieve in the long run. Only when you have these answers in front of you can set out to establish a strategy for your organization.
Also, these compelling vision and mission statements will equip your team members to come to work with a sense of purpose. This will reflect in their efficiency and productivity, leading to better project outcomes.
2. Prioritize Your Company’s Projects
Prioritizing your company’s projects is the next big step that you need to implement. To effectively prioritize work, first determine which projects are lined up and which ones are ongoing. Now revisit the purpose of the organization and set up priorities based on it. You’ll notice that not all projects will cater to the set strategy. However, that’s fine.
Here’s what you need to do.
Determine the scope and purpose of each project and accordingly prioritize them. This will help direct dedicated focus to those projects that facilitate better strategic alignment and enable greater impact in the long run. Now, this will require some rescheduling of resources and deadlines. For this, you may adopt an efficient project management tool, such as ProProfs Project, to set up project workflows and also set the base for hassle-free project execution.
Using a tool is recommended because the right tool will offer rich project dashboards that let you plan, create, and track multiple project workflows in a single spot. This way, team members have access to what needs to be done, and when, eliminating any confusion regarding task dependencies and prioritization. Thus, such a tool lets you assign resources to tasks and define clear due dates, offering increased visibility into everyday tasks easily.
3. Choose the Right Project Management Framework
As a project manager, you may find it easier to implement a particular methodology to deliver projects on time. Or, you might even be comfortable executing different projects with different methodologies because you believe that each project demands a different style of working.
Adopting the Agile or Scrum methodology is apt when you’re dealing with projects that require quick responses and frequent change management. These allow you to adjust to real-time project demands and deliver tasks as per the existing requirements.
You may adopt the Waterfall technique when you know that your project deliverables are fixed, and project execution can be carried out in a pre-defined sequence. Also, in this, it is important to note that you cannot redo a task unless you go back to doing the previous tasks first. This means that you can only make changes to a particular task when you re-start the project all over. Thus, this technique is best for projects that are bound to follow a fixed path.
Besides, you may even leverage the Kanban methodology if you want to take control of a project by diving deeper into its tasks right from project initiation to its closure.
Thus, a project manager may deploy a project management methodology that they deem fit or even deploy different methodologies for different projects.
4. Understand Your Role as a Leader
Understanding your roles as a leader beyond just delegating tasks is what makes you an exceptional one. It’s only when you understand your responsibilities as a leader is when you can drive your team to embrace these strategies and deliver projects as required.
Yes, you must steer your team to attain set objectives within the defined time frame. However, with positive leadership, you extract the true value of your role by inspiring and guiding team members to fulfill their responsibilities to the best of their abilities.
5. Measure and Evaluate Performance
The last step is to measure your performance in terms of the strategy that you have set up. This can be touted as one of the most important steps as this is where you analyze how well the team has performed and how well the project has fulfilled the strategies in action.
Also, this stage of the process gives you the opportunity to evaluate what went wrong and what could have been done differently to accomplish better results. These lessons can then be utilized while framing the workflow and strategies of future projects.
By now, you must have a fair idea that strategic alignment in project management encourages better-performing teams and projects. And, further, these teams and projects exhibit results that are better aligned with the bigger company goals.
Naturally, adopting a project management tool is the right step towards attaining said objectives. It helps get a real-time overview of the state of things. This further helps set the flow of work to enable smooth and faster project deliveries. Also, this ensures that your projects cater to the actual goals of the company without breaking a sweat.
Thus, it’ll not be wrong to say that when you tie your projects to strategy, you invariably enable your team and yourself to accomplish projects that exceed expectations. So, the next time you kick off your upcoming project, you can count on a well-defined strategy and a project management tool to ensure sure-shot project success.
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