Project management is the way people, resources, and processes are organized to achieve a goal that has a defined beginning and end. Successful project management requires a lot of organization, clarity of specific objectives, and a clear commitment to those objectives from all parties involved.
The strategic plan contemplates the final objective and asks: “How did we get there?” From there, the strategic plan is used to utilize the necessary resources and establish priorities. A strategic project has milestones throughout development to measure success, as well as clear processes to make sure teams achieve those milestones.
Responsibility for strategic planning often rests with the Strategic Program Manager (SPM). This project management professional oversees a project from start to finish, ensuring that all parties involved know exactly what is going on and have what they need to be successful. They see the “big picture” of a project and work to mitigate risk.
And speaking of risks: Strategy risk is the possibility that a project will fail. The SPM’s job is to anticipate each risk factor and devise a plan to follow if they occur.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a great example of strategy risk. The pandemic disrupted work and sent us all home. The sudden switch to telecommuting delayed projects, shifted demand and forced teams to adapt. Although the “global pandemic” was probably not mentioned in many 2020 strategic planning meetings, successful strategic program managers worked to keep projects moving forward without too many interruptions.
Strategies for project management
You need strong project management strategies to guide you through the process and keep your project moving on schedule. Aspiring to a finished product without any strategy prepares your project for uncontrolled changes in scope and destabilizing risks.
Strategy 1: Clarify the details of your project before starting
Before you start programming the project, you have to know what it entails. Start with the final product and work backwards. What smaller steps and products do you have to complete to get to the final product? Take the time to understand what you have to achieve and what resources you will need to make it happen. As you clarify the details of your project, you should commit to a project management methodology and begin to build a project plan based on that methodology.
Strategy 2: Evaluate your project from various perspectives
During the planning phase, take a step back and look at the project from the perspective of different roles. Each will face challenges that may not be apparent at first glance. Project management strategies in construction, for example, will look different for a foreman than for an architect or site engineer. Your project plan has to take into account the needs of each role and anticipate the common problems that each could face. It’s easy to get lost in the face of potential gaps and missed opportunities in your own project plan, so it can be helpful to have non-participating team members scrutinize it to see if they discover anything that you may have overlooked.
Strategy 3: Choose the right people to be part of the project team
A project can only be as successful as the people who work on it. Each team member should be chosen for the skills and personalities they bring to the project. Not everyone will be a good fit for any project, and your best team may not even include all of your “best” people.