Project managers must understand how their projects advance the business strategy

Monday, August 26th, 2013 By Jack Nevison

It's one thing to create a strategy. Every project manager knows that executing that strategy is about managing the whole portfolio of projects.

When developing a strategy, it's easy to make every detail fall effortlessly into place—at least on paper. You can assign tasks to the right personnel and efficiently distribute resources. You can even plan for contingencies and ensure that all the projects do not come in over budget.

But execution is seldom without glitches, and real life does not resemble what is put to paper.

Budgets get cut. Employees are transferred to different departments. Roadblocks arise without any warning.

On one hand, it can be argued that execution will always differ from strategy. But execution meets strategy in the project portfolio.

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, contributor Doug Sundheim argued that both strategists and executors must do their best to work together. Sometimes those responsible for strategies do not always realize what it takes to carry them out. Likewise, sometimes those doing the heavy lifting do not always consider the rationale for the overall plan.

"The best strategists and executors don't see a hand-off between strategy and execution," Sundheim wrote. "They see an integrated whole."

"Good project managers know that it's the full portfolio of all the projects that represents the business strategy," says Jack Nevison of New Leaf. "And the good managers are willing to engage in the flexible give-and-take required to move the whole portfolio forward."

New Leaf's program "Chartering the Project: Managing the Business Priorities of the Project Portfolio," shows you how to keep project execution from straying too far from strategy. In addition, you can earn easy and affordable PDUs for PMP® recertification through New Leaf's QPM™ series of estimating games.

"PMI," PMP," and "PMBOK" are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

"QPM" is a registered mark of New Leaf Project Management. All rights reserved.

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