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While strategic planning and project management are not the same, they are closely related, and they both deserve attention.
Think of strategic planning on a macro level, as something that is organization wide. Project management, however, is on a micro level, as it can be applied to individual projects throughout your organization, and across various departments. Project management can also be employed as a part of the implementation phase of your strategic plan.A good organizational strategy can help align your team, address your vision, mission, and goals, and help you implement strategic initiatives organization wide. Each project should ideally support this overall strategy, and the project management framework you choose will help you follow through on your projects.
Ideally, your entire team will be onboard with your organizational strategy so that each employee and member of the leadership team is aligned on a common direction. If this is not the case, and you find that your organization is operating in communication silos, a strategy review is a great place to begin. A strategic plan is not simply a document on a shelf, but ideally a fluid roadmap that can guide your organization towards achieving its goals. To achieve this, we recommend reviewing your strategy on an ongoing basis, such as yearly or quarterly.
If you're looking to build your own strategic plan..
Our video walkthrough will guide you:
Once your team is aligned, and you are happy with your strategic plan, here are some great ways you can align your strategy and project management style:
Decide which initiatives or projects are organizational priorities. Break them down into actionable steps, and make sure you understand the scope of each project.
Choose your framework:
There are many, so it's important to decide on a project management methodology that best suits your project and strategy.
If you’re in a fast moving organization that is quickly affected by technological advances, or are working on projects across many small teams, perhaps an agile or scrum methodology best fits your values. These frameworks are great for quick adjustments, so you can make mistakes (and fix them) quickly, and adapt the project along the way.
If your organization is slower moving, with a more bureaucratic structure, a more traditional phased approach to project management, such as Waterfall, may work best. This is a more linear and sequence based framework.
There are a multitude of project management methodologies, and some organizations may choose to employ different frameworks for different projects. Each methodology has strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to choose the one that works best for the style of project you are working on and that will pair well with your organization’s strategic plan.
Understand the roles of leadership in your organization:
Leadership is a crucial part of your organization, and it has a big impact on your company’s culture. Make sure your leadership team understands your organizational strategy and is committed to empowering their team(s) and can support them through the project management process, whether directly or indirectly. Communication should not be undervalued!
Get the work done:
An aligned team is an empowered team, and an aligned team with good leadership and a strong project management framework has a better chance of follow through, which is crucial for success. Implementation is an essential part of both strategic planning and project management.
Review and measure your work:
Project management does not end with the completion of a project. Just like strategy should be reviewed, so should your projects. Consider the product as well as stakeholders in the review process.
If you’ve chosen a methodology such as scrum, project reviews will occur throughout the project timeframe, and on an ongoing basis. For quick moving projects, check in on scope creep, as this is a common issue that can arise.
For frameworks such as waterfall, it is important to review the project upon completion and understand what worked well and what may not have worked as well. However, it’s often a good idea to have a mid-project review to make sure the project still aligns with your organization and is moving in the right direction.
Know when to stop or when to push forward:
While implementation and follow through are crucial to success, not every project will get finished, and that’s ok. By including your employees and leadership teams to be involved in the strategic planning process, they will be empowered to make crucial decisions as to which projects should be completed and which should not.
Does your strategy need a review? Our team members are experts in strategic planning and project management, and can help align your team with strategic planning facilitation: