Ask: What’s the business case for this project?
Managing a project without fully understanding the motivation behind it is like starting a race
without knowing whether the team should be
running, biking or swimming. “A project could hit
scope, schedule and cost and still not be successful
from a business perspective,” says Mr. Olubadejo.
Cakasa, an oil and gas engineering design ;rm,
safeguards against such an outcome by having
project managers meet with the management team
at the project’s onset to discuss the business case.
Understanding what drives the initiative helps
the project manager shape everything from the
risk register (and how to prioritize risk mitigation
e;orts) to resourcing and work breakdown structures, he says.
Get the Answers: Start by asking the project sponsor to walk through the business case and how it
ties back to the organization’s strategic goals, suggests Ms. Francolini. “Understanding the business
case at the beginning is one of the most powerful things you can do for your project,” she says.
“If you don’t really have
a handle on exactly why
the organization is doing a
project, ;nd out before you
start managing it.”
;e portfolio manager
or project management
o;ce (PMO) is another
great resource for understanding how projects
drive strategic goals, says
Emilio Buzzi, PMP, an
IT strategic planning and
control leader for food
company Arcor SAIC in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“;ey can act as a bridge between organizational
strategy and project management, and help ensure
that both are linked together,” he says.
case at the
one of the most
you can do for
—Sara Francolini, PMP,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Strategic project managers are made, not born. Three red flags
can indicate when thinking isn’t properly aligned, says Adeel
Azam, manager, strategic planning and integration, Network
Rail, London, England.
1Diving in too quickly: Project managers keen to get going as soon as the project charter is finalized may not be taking the time to really understand why the project
is happening. “They may struggle with alignment at a later
stage,” Mr. Azam says.
2A blurry business landscape: Strategy problems await eams that haven’t brushed up on economic trends that could impact the project or don’t know who the company’s biggest competitors are. “Things change fast these days.
Technology, economic environment, new legislation—these can
drive a major shift in your organization’s strategy,” Mr. Azam
says. “You have to keep on top of such things to be successful.”
3A weak link to strategic leaders: A subtle shift in the organization’s strategy might not warrant an all-em- ployee email, so being connected to more senior leaders can help project managers keep a finger on the strategic
pulse, Mr. Azam says. “You can’t just rely on the project sponsor to build your understanding of organizational strategy.
Get opinions from other people in the organization, such as
business development or people who talk to your customers.”