Managing Projects towards Market Leadership
By ExecutiveBrief Staff
Methodologies aside, projects can either be managed either strategically or operationally, and that the bottom line is always the result it brings to the enterprise and its position in the market.
It used to be that the goal of all project teams was to get the job done on time and within budget. While this approach is still widespread, increasing competition is reshuffling the rules of the game. Getting the job done within set boundaries is not enough anymore, and project managers are facing the pressure of having to add value to end-products that they release to the market. Project managers know that both their jobs and their products could always land on the chopping board for reasons that are beyond the controls of their traditional roles. But visionary project managers figure out the roles that leadership and market insights have pivotal parts in the long-term success of any project.
No matter the methodologies, projects can either be managed either strategically or operationally, and the bottom line is always the result it brings to the enterprise and its position in the market. This is the outcome of strategic project leadership, which is a project management approach that focuses on adaptability, vision, competitive advantage, and effectiveness. It still embraces the methodologies of traditional project management, and then adds more.
At the core of strategic project leadership is business strategy, which is communicated clearly as a project vision to all concerned stakeholders. It is how project leaders make their commitments to stakeholders. But how does vision transition to being simple words of commitment to actual competitive advantage? Here are some steps1:
- Create business leaders out of project managers. Let them share the responsibility in building business results, not just accomplishing tasks.
- Identify and focus on the projects that create or contribute to the overall business strategy. While there are projects that are not aligned to the chosen business strategy, the more important thing is to manage the project portfolio according to the long-term competitive advantage of the enterprise (or the client).
- Identify the competitive advantage of every project (or service) in the portfolio and formulate a project strategy in capturing the marketplace. Strategic project leadership does not play by one-size-fits-all rule, but through an adaptive and efficient approach.
- Communicate the project vision and cultivate a project team that believes in the vision’s energy, excitement, and commitment. People have to believe on a sustained, day-to-day basis about their contribution to the project and the project’s place in the bigger world.
- Retrofit the chosen project management methodology to fit the project’s requirements and vision.
- Create a hierarchical plan that starts with strategy, and then spirit, organization, processes, and tools.
- Create a learning project. Monitor the project and put together all the lessons learned from every activity.
There is so much that can be learned from strategic project leadership, but remember that it all boils down to identifying the product’s competitive advantages, and then communicating this vision in words and in an overall strategy for delivering the project from the drawing board to the market.
1According to Shenhar et al
ExecutiveBrief, the technology management resource for business leaders, offers articles loaded with proven tips, techniques, and action plans that companies can use to better manage people, processes and tools – the keys to improving their business performance. For more information visit us at: www.executivebrief.com.