Project Management as Organisational Strategy

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Todays world is one in which globalization has embraced almost all areas of activity. There are no industry that is not affected and strategy that does not include this important component. The role of this paper is to discuss the allegation that “Projectification of the organisational world has resulted in apparent agreement that projects and project management are an efficient means of implementing organisational strategy.”(Haniff & Fernie 2009). I will analyze this statement in terms of professional experience and by the literature exploring the content, limitations and opportunities that arise in organizational practice. In today’s world project management has become a tool used in almost all organizations, whether it’s construction, media or fashion. But how can it be integrated into the business strategy of the organization is a question that will offer many answers. Strategic Project Management (SPM) has been defined by Callahan & Brooks (2004) as “the use of the appropriate project management knowledge, skills, tools and techniques in the context of the companies goals and objectives so that the project deliverables will contribute to company value in a way that can be measured” (Callahan & Brooks, 2004, p. 23). They further describe SPM as a “process that takes into account a company’s way of doing business, allowing for the possibility of a significant payoff with fewer risks” (Callahan & Brooks, p. 30). The above definitions are good, but they do not convey the most important aspect of SPM, which is the fact that senior leadership needs to be involved in selecting, defining and prioritizing which projects are undertaken within the organization.

Consequently, the concept of project management has become so widespread that commentators have began to speak of the “projectification of society” (Lundin and Soderholm, 1998, Midler, 1995). Most mainstream management text tend to refer to definitions provided by PMI (2004), who define a ‘project’ as “a temporary endeavour, undertaken to create a unique product or result”. Within this classic description the role of the project is that of a production function, wherenprojects are characterised as a set of planning and control techniques aimed at delivering project objectives – time, cost quality and scope.HANIFF Defining organizational strategy plays an important role since it defines the rules under which it will develop in the future as well as how it envisages achieving these objectives. Judging from this statement but we question the role of project manager and project management in establishing such rules. Researchers appear to agree that projects are an efficient means of implementing strategy (Cicmil and Hodgson, 2006, Gareis, 1991, Cleland and Ireland, 2006, Roberts and Gardiner, 1998, Turner and Keegan, 1999). By employing a project management approach to delivering the broad organisational strategies, businesses are able to partially eradicate the traditional bureaucratic, mechanistic structures HANIFF. Another perspective in literature assumes that the project management approach enables organisational strategy to be implemented efficiently and effectively, thus shorting the time from strategy formulation to strategy implementation (Hauc and Kovac, 2000, Gareis, 1989, Partington, 1996). If we are to relate to the claim that project management is done through your organizations, then the latter would leave the foundation from which we achieve the objectives. But there are many issues involved here that does not find a solution yet. One of the most important is the project manager’s ability to influence the strategy for the achievement of project objectives. One could say that the barriers placed in the way of project manager are just getting started. Central to this perspective is the concept of strategic alignment.HANIFF This concept ensures that projects accurately reflect the organisations longterm investment and aspirations articulated in their organisational strategies. HANIFF However, viewing the project in terms of tools,techniques and outputs makes basic assumptions about the nature of projects and arguably diminishes the complex role of the project manager (Lundin and Soderholm, 1995). It’s naive to say that the project manager’s role is simply to manage the project that has in coordination.

Viewed more broadly, its role can be transformed into an initiator or coauthor of strategy which is in continuous transformation. Project`s strategy cannot operate independently of the organization’s strategy.

Strategic functions of the two elements work simultaneously and tend to complete. The level at which project objectives reach organisation`s strategy depends very much on the nature of the project. Projects are typically viewed as a vehicle for change within an organisation where project objectives are determined by a single parent organisation.HANIFF In considering the complexities of project management, it is perhaps more appropriate to view a project as an ‘organisation’ rather than a ‘tool’.HANIFF Considering this dealing with the conflict of interest between the various stakeholders become very important; realising the role of the project manager and the implementation of information, communication and monitoring systems (Turner and Muller, 2003). The exploration of attempts to strategically align the formulation of organisational strategies with the implementation through projects and project management is significantly problematic.HANIFF The shortcomings described above have led to a strict focus on the execution of projects, which has created ‘tactical’ tunnel vision within organizations. This tunnel vision has led many organizations to implement formal project management processes to create a tactical mindset at a time when the strategic use of resources is vital to these organizations. This tactical thinking is exactly what is needed for ensuring that ‘things get done’ within a project, but strategic thinking is also needed to ensure the optimal use of time, resources and money to ensure that each project undertaken is aligned with the business strategy of the organization.

Brown 2007 The objective of project and strategic management integration is to essentially increase the efficiency of the processes of strategy formulation to strategy implementation.HANIFF Diverse interests of shareholders and the difficulties of internal bureaucracy contributes to a very limited ability to influence. Of course, I cannot speak of a generalization to all organizations. Nevertheless, how can a project manager to influence the organization’s strategy? Depending on the nature and organizational dynamics of each organization in part we can speak at most about a limited impact on the strategic process. Analysing for example the work of Philip Morris, a company in which I worked, I can say that the strategic process is rarely reported to the multitude of existing projects at a time. Of course, the project manager involvement could be much higher, especially in strategic alignment with organizational goals but this was not considered a priority. It was later found that the dynamics of change within the organization is most effective if implemented based on specific projects. The strategic objectives through the effective implementation of projects? I would say that from my professional experience and analyzing the literature it could beListen Read phonetically It is naive to assume that any predetermined project plans can be simplistically implemented HANIFF. It must fulfill several conditions, but especially at the higher level of organization. Conversely, project management ensures high level of efficiency in implementation of set objectives in general (Hauc and Kovac, 2000). However, Anderson and Merna (2003) postulate that the cause of project failure often originates in poor management at the front-end during strategy formulation, rather than downstream execution. Maylor (2001) goes further to suggest that more than 80 per cent of all problems at the project level are caused by failures at the board level in firms to provide clear policies and priorities. This is regardless of Archibald’s (1988) assertion that if senior managers want to manage their organizations strategically, they must provide effective project management practices linked with strategic management practices. Uncertainties arise from the moment of confrontation between project and strategy.

The project aims to develop as a separate entity with specific rules and methods of implementation. It also develops a certain strategy of the project in detail that not always coincides with the organization’s strategy. In this point, the ability of a good relationship between project manager and senior management is vital. Coordination capacity is not necessarily only within a small universe of project but especially in the larger organization where this important issue gets such an overwhelming importance. The fact that SPM is often overlooked can be seen in research performed by Stanleigh (2006) and report in the article titled “From Crisis to Control: New Standards for Project Management”. Stanleigh reports that a fraction of projects undertaken by organizations (roughly 2.5 percent) are 100% successful (Stanleigh, 2006, p. 1). Stanleigh discusses the need for organizations to ensure that only those projects that are aligned with the corporate strategic vision be undertaken. Stanleigh’s strategies described above seem to be common sense, but most organizations have not taken the time to take the high-level view of their projects to ensure that the resources that are being consumed (i.e., time, money, people, etc) are creating value and/or returns to the organizationBROWN. Irrespective of the call from numerous scholars for a deeper understanding into the nature of enquiry, current literature on aligning projects with organisational strategy is not yet comprehensive.HANIFF A number of scholars focus on the upstream activities of selecting projects for the project portfolio as the critical part of the alignment process (Archer and Ghasemzadeh, 1999, Cooper et al., 2000, Aalto, 2000). Within this stream, strategic alignment relates to the need to select projects for implementation that align with the organisations strategic objectives whilst remaining sensitive to available resources (Archer and Ghasemzadeh, 1999). Other researchers have focused their attention further downstream by proposing that the provision of a managerial framework for grouping projects in the form of programmes.

This provides a means to bridge the gap between project delivery and organisational strategy (Maylor et al., 2006, Partington et al., 2005, Thiry, 2002) and requires the deployment of a Programme Manager. More recently the concept of ‘project strategy’ has been presented in the literature (Morris and Jamieson, 2005, Shenhar, 2004, Srivannaboon and Milosevic, 2006, Morris and Jamieson, 2004, Artto et al., 2008). Despite, the lack of clarity of the concept, if we accept the argument that all organisations have a strategy (Porter, 1979) the notion of a project having a single unified strategy that satisfies all the organisations involved is problematic. Shenhar (2004) suggests that a project strategy is the specific unique approach the project takes to achieve the organizational strategy and is therefore the “missing link” between the business strategy and the project plans. HANIFF propose that development of a ‘project strategy’ is the direction given to the project manager by senior management. Brown said that Aligning projects with corporate strategy is not an easy topic to grasp for some organizations, but it is necessary to ensure that all projects are aligned with the organizations’ goals and objectives. To accomplish this task, an organization must review the project and assess what it is that they want to accomplish. In addition, the business value of the project must be completely understood and defined. When paired with the PMBOK project management phases, the strategic alignment of projects would assist in defining the project outcome and success factors for the ‘initiation’ phase. This process of aligning projects with corporate strategy helps to address the issue raised by Morris (2003) when he writes that project management must be about “delivering business benefit through projects and this necessarily involves managing the project definition as well as downstream implementation” (Morris, 2003, pp. 2-3) In considering such complexity, it is difficult to assert how true strategic alignment from the corporate level to the project management level will be achieved.HANIFF Literature suggests that strategy be set at the at the corporate level and then filtered down to the project level (Archer and Ghasemzadeh, 1999, Morris and Jamieson, 2005). Delivery of projects as part of corporate strategy today tends to become an item for discussion. Trying to projectification every aspect of organizational life but without analyzing the implications of such testing may be dangerous for the life of the organization itself. Many of the world’s project management societies have recognized the need to educate organizations about SPM and its benefits according to Naughton & Green. They write: Recently, a number of the world’s leading project management organizations have taken major initiatives to enlighten executive management about the strategic importance and benefits of project management.

The focus is to move from individual project management to organizational project management, which these organizations maintain is a strategic advantage in a competitive economy (Naughton & Green, 2006, p. 1).

Analizand toate aceste aspecte se desprinde concluzia ca projects and project management are an efficient means of implementing organisational strategy.”(Haniff & Fernie 2009) este un proces complex care trebuie adaptat in functie de natura organizatiei. Folosirea project managementului in sensul implementarii strategiei organizatiei este inca la inceput si necesita timp si metode de abordare. Stabilirea criteriilor in alinierea proiectelor la strategia organizatiei este un process in expansiune asa cum am aratat in cadrul acestei analize. Probabil anii care vor urma ne vor arata noi modalitati de implicare a project managementului in atingerea obiectivelor strategice ale organizatiei.




The purpose of this paper has been to provide an overview of Strategic Project Management (SPM). The use of SPM and Project Portfolio Management (PPM) can provide a great deal of advantage to an organization to allow them to identify and select those projects that provide the greatest level of value to the organization. There are considerable advantages for an organization to undertake a rethinking and/or retooling of the project management function to include SPM methodologies and practices in the selection of projects that are undertaken.

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Project management as organisational strategy. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved June 16, 2024 , from

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