I haven’t discovered anything that might prove the theory of evolution, but as many companies have discovered, there is a missing link between organizational strategy development and successful strategy implementation. Some familiar with strategy research might refer to this as the “implementation gap.” Whatever you call it, organizations fail to realize forecasted benefits and significant business value by implementing well-thought-out but poorly executed strategy.
The significant realization required for organizations is to recognize that strategy is executed through projects. Great strategic initiatives must be managed through an implementation process, and projects (and programs) provide a standard and methodical way to get things done. Now I understand when you begin speaking to your CEO or CFO about projects or project management, their eyes begin to glaze; why would a CxO be interested in project management? The answer is that effective governance and management of project portfolios yields tangible business results and strategic progress.
To take that first step of progress to improve strategy implementation, organizations need a project portfolio management system. The system does not have to be complex; in smaller organizations, a simple priority-ranking system and approval process will do. The project portfolio management system ensures critical resources are working on the most important projects. Priority criteria may include simple return on investment (ROI) calculations, or more sophisticated multi-criteria systems that consider project size, complexity, and limited skilled-resource needs or talent utilization.
The Project Management Institute (PMI®) “Pulse of the Profession” report demonstrates the significance of this linkage through industry survey results. One important data point is that organizations that use Project Management Offices to implement a formal project governance process and link projects to enterprise strategy “report 27 percent more projects completed successfully and 42 percent fewer projects with scope creep.” With the connection between strategy and projects in place, more successful strategy implementation is the result.
Making the link between strategic initiatives and strategy implementation through projects is a simple link, but one that too often is missing. Don’t live in an evolutionary “Twilight Zone”: To begin reaping value benefits for your organization, take the first step by recognizing this key “missing link” between projects and strategy implementation in your strategic governance process.
Steve DelGrosso teaches in the Master of Professional Studies in Project Management program at Georgetown University and is an Executive Consultant in governance, risk, and compliance program management. He has over thirty years of experience in the information technology industry, most recently as the Director of IBM’s global Project Management Center of Excellence.