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Successful Leaders Select The Best Vantage Point

10 December, 2018

In their white paper, Winning through Project Portfolio Management, the Project Management Institute stated that leaders need to take an organisation-wide view to allocate resources and time, make effective course corrections across their portfolio of projects, and from there, maximise value delivery.

In other words, if leaders don’t have visibility of strategically critical projects and KPI’s the likelihood of failure increases. It’s not a particularly complicated concept to grasp!

Differentiate strategic projects from operational projectsCare needs to be taken to differentiate strategic projects from operational projects

The report states that 94% of organisations who report a high level of maturity with respect to portfolio management believe it to have a positive and tangible impact on their success. That’s a compelling statistic, but what, in simple terms, does it mean?

At Alertise, we like plain English and keeping things simple. So in simple terms what they’re saying is, people who run businesses should be across the strategically important projects that will lead to the business succeeding. This includes having the tools to recognise when things have changed such that a project needs to pivot or be abandoned.

Clearly, to do this effectively it makes sense to also have access to external data that could be impacting on the business’s strategic objectives. To ignore this would lead to decisions being made without seeing the bigger picture.

For example, if a business viewed the decline of a product line as an internal problem they might assign resources to address it. However, a review of external data may illustrate that, in fact, their business was experiencing a much slower rate of decline than most others and the market in general and the effort put into turning things around were wasted.

Most leaders will recognise that strategically important projects are different from the day to day delivery of the services that generate revenues. This suggests that care needs to be taken to differentiate strategic projects from operational projects without compromising either.

For example, at an engineering company, there will be projects for the delivery of products and these projects will be delivering the essential revenues that keep the business viable. At the same time, strategic projects dealing with the business’s overall direction of travel will also need to be managed and resourced. The Project Management Institute paper highlights this.

When considering the implementation of strategic initiatives it’s important to have sight of the key components along with the right mindset.

Recognising the importance of these initiatives and their significance to the overall wellbeing of the business is an important first step. One way of guaranteeing this is to provide easily accessible information stating the organisation’s mission and direction of travel. It’s simply too easy and all too common for those delivering for a business to lack the knowledge and understanding of the significance of the work they are doing.

“You do realise the importance of this work you’re doing, right?”

Getting portfolio management right means those at the top need to embrace it and make sure the people reporting to them have a deep understanding of its importance. It also means making sure the tools to deliver it are in place.

This might be achieved by leveraging existing collaboration tools and methods or by investing in dedicated strategy execution software. The important thing, no matter what the choice, is to make sure the tools used for portfolio or initiative management and delivery are made simple and accessible.

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