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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Jenkins

Aligning Project Management with Business Strategy

As the business world continues in its ever-competitive landscape, adapting to better and faster technology and embracing new and evolving markets, it would appear the need to have a clearly defined business strategy has never been more necessary.

Having a clear strategy doesn't guarantee success though and businesses these days are becoming more and more aware of the importance of having a clearly defined business strategy coupled with an equally defined set of projects fully aligned to their strategy. It could be fair to say that any project that doesn't align to the overall strategy should never be considered in the first place but it surprises me just how common this can actually be and how common place it is for 'sacred cow' or 'vanity' projects to find themselves in full swing with no apparent link back to the overarching business strategy. 

Aligning a programme of projects with the business strategy can lay the foundation for successful delivery of that strategy, although it is in no way guaranteed. Having the right people, right processes, right products and right services all play an equally important and necessary part. Aligning projects to the business strategy does give direction to a company though and sets the business on a clear path for the year ahead. That in many ways provides an immediate competitive edge.

In order to achieve this necessary alignment businesses need to recognise the importance of project management office (PMO) sitting at the heart of its organisation. A well run PMO holds the vision that can align projects with the business strategy, and should therefore always be included in high-level business decisions. This maximises its effectiveness and therefore the effectiveness of the business in a sometimes overcrowded marketplace.

When a PMO is not included in the shaping of, or aligned to a business strategy, the overall success rate of projects can be extremely limited and company performance can be very poor but have high costs as a result of delivering projects that add little or no value back to the business. Its also possible that the business operates from day to day with a general feel of ambiguity on how certain projects relate to the overall business goals, leaving employees confused, frustrated and in many cases resulting in the best employees eventually moving on.

When projects are managed in a way that aligns them with the business strategy, teams can flourish and companies often become much more successful. A recent article on the CIO website noted that PMOs who align projects with strategic objectives are twice as likely to lead higher-performing teams, four times more likely to be successful and are more likely to help the company with its financial performance too.

Ultimately, all this tells us that companies, if not already, should begin to move away from the more traditional business unit PMO models (where a PMO sits within a specific department or business area) to enterprise unit PMO models (where PMO operates at strategic level of the business). This latter model can ensure companies align projects with overarching business strategies and hopefully ensure a more solid foundation for future business success.

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