Project Management as a Strategic Tool
From a conventional viewpoint, project management is a tactical approach to ensuring that projects are organized and carried out in a manner that delivers the desired product on time, at standard, and on budget. In other words, conceptions of project management have tended to center on the individual who, what, how, and when levels of production. Certainly it is vital that any undertaking be completed efficiently and effectively, and tactical project management is indispensable to that end. However, it is also necessary for any organization to ascend above the individual project level and embrace the realization that the project management paradigm has equal value as a strategic tool.
Strategic Project Management
In today’s large organizations, divisions and departments often compete for limited resources. It is therefore necessary to operate within a decision framework that supports rational choice-making in the prioritization of and investment in projects that offer the highest potential returns in terms of powering enterprise competitiveness and growth, maintaining marketplace positioning, and generating shareholder value. This imperative is captured in the discipline of project portfolio management, what the Project Management Institute defines as “…an approach to achieving strategic goals by selecting, prioritizing, assessing, and managing projects, programs, and other related work based upon their alignment and contribution to the organization’s strategies and objectives.
Put in plain terms, strategic project management involves assessing the merits of a set of proposed projects, weighing each against the others then selecting for support only those projects that will add the greatest value to the organization from a holistic standpoint. The foundation underpinning project management at the strategic level is the establishment of a clearly-defined set of overall goals and objectives for the enterprise as a whole. This framework then serves as an organizational context for projects, and also works to highlight relational effects among various projects. Modern views of project management stress the importance of recognizing that sequences of projects and even entire programs or portfolios are more properly viewed as forms of temporary organizing embedded in the larger, more permanent contextual structures of the enterprise and the field of operation, for example, business, non-profit, or public administration.
Organizational Project Management
From this standpoint, project management entails far more than the competent administration of individual projects. It includes leveraging the management of multiple projects as a means of establishing relationships between individual projects and the wider organization. Organizational Project Management (OPM) is a term used to describe management approaches that involve integrating multiproject management activities in ways that strategically align portfolio and program management efforts and associated governance activities. OPM is seen as a realm of management where dynamic structures in an organization will be articulated in ways that enable corporate objectives to be implemented through projects.
OPM researchers Nathalie Drouin and Claude Besner suggest that projects can be seen as venues for mastering business, implementing change, innovating, and developing competitive advantage. Discussion along these lines highlights the fact that individual projects must fulfill roles within an enterprise’s overall strategic vision and direction. Thus, it can be seen that project management is an important internal strategic asset – from the Resource-Based View, one of a firm’s sources of competitive advantage.
Make the Most of Your Strategic Assets
Given that the strategy literature defines internal strategic assets as being scarce and valuable, the implication is that maximization of efficiency and effectiveness in project management efforts is demanded by more than the value of immediate revenues associated with deliverables. Each project is in fact a building block within the evolving organizational structure, and a step-stone toward achievement of large-scale objectives. It is imperative that a powerful tool like Timewax project management software is brought to bear in attaining peak performance on each undertaking selected for inclusion in an organization’s project portfolio. Only in this way can competitive advantage be maintained in an ever-more crowded and increasingly fast-paced marketplace.