Keys to thinking beyond tactical management
Today’s project management office (PMO) leaders and others engaged in project-based work need to think beyond tactical management. In order to achieve success, they must be able to think through the business consequences of their decisions and how they align to larger organizational goals. Being able to see both the outcome of a project and how it impacts long-term goals of an organization is critical for successful project leaders.
To make the shift from tactical to strategic project management, and to adapt quickly to unexpected changes mid-course, project leaders and PMO heads should consider four things:
1. Long-Term Impacts
A project manager should develop skills to assess how an initiative will impact their company in the long run. While a project manager may still be able to manage a project well, if a project isn’t aligned to future goals, new initiatives could have little or—in some cases—negative impacts on the company. Furthermore, spending time on work that may be abandoned or unfinished because it does not align to organizational strategy can be costly both for the company and the employees involved.
2. Available Resources
Poorly envisioned initiatives not only affect an organization in the long run, but not having foresight when executing projects could also lead to a misuse of resources. If resources or funds are allotted for a project that doesn’t provide the benefits initially promised, those funds then become unavailable for a project that could have impacted the company positively. Thoroughly understanding the outcomes of a project can then lead to not just positive impacts from one project, but provide for the opportunity to implement more successful projects in the future. Considering this cyclical effect is a critical component of strategic management.
3. Asking Questions
One of the best steps you can take to understand the long-term impacts of a project is asking the right questions. Asking questions expands your understanding of the different components of a project, but also helps you understand if and how a project aligns with your organization’s mission and vision. Developing questions before a project kicks off, and continuing to communicate them as a project progresses or even changes direction, will also promote a healthy dialogue and collaboration among project team members.
4. Taking Initiative
Leading projects should be about more than checking off tasks and managing timelines. A successful leader should speak up when issues arise, and redirect as necessary if a project’s course gets off track. When you take the initiative to understand your company’s mission and vision, you not only have a better sense of the impact of the projects you undertake, but you also position yourself to have the most impact. You are acting from a place that aligns with the company’s goals, which builds trust and leads to more opportunities and authority.
It is critical that decisions made as a project leader don’t exclude consideration of business strategy and the effects on your organization’s long-term goals. Implementing this thought process into project decisions can greatly impact the success of projects and, moreover, the success of a company.
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