Moving Forward with Strategic Implementation
January 23, 2019
Now that the beginning of the year is upon us, many of the key projects that came out of strategic planning in 2018 are kicking off. It’s an exciting time! Unfortunately, not all of those key projects will be completed successfully, many will result in schedule and budget overruns, and some will extract significant pain and suffering from project teams.
Most leaders would say that strategic planning is key to moving their organizations forward. They also understand the importance of implementing the projects that will transform the strategic direction into reality. So why isn’t it easier?
Some common reasons that are cited:
- Other unexpected things came up
- Not enough resources
- The day-to-day got in the way
- The project was bigger than realized
- Off-track due to vendor schedules
If any of this sounds familiar or if you feel your organization needs a tune-up in the strategic implementation area, here are a few key principles to focus on:
- A strong project portfolio management process – A clear process for how strategic projects are initiated, vetted, prioritized, monitored, and closed out is a recipe for success. This also helps with resource capacity by providing a big-picture view that can highlight resource shortages
- Scheduling time to initiate implementation as a part of strategic planning – Strategic planning does not occur in a bubble. It is known that strategic implementation follows on the heels of planning, so schedule time right afterward to begin hashing out high level plans. The planning session will still be fresh in everyone’s mind and it’s early enough to make adjustments if needed. This is also the time to research how vendor schedules could impact your plans
- Front-load project planning – Resist the temptation to skimp on project planning in favor of jumping in to get started on big projects. Time spent up front on detailed planning results in more realistic scheduling and helps uncover snags early, paying big dividends in the end
- Prioritize – Often there are more projects than there is time or resources to accomplish them. Prioritization is the key to getting the project list under control, along with a willingness to say no or not now to some projects
- Remain nimble with conscious decision-making – No matter how much project planning is done, the world will throw in some curve balls or unexpected opportunities. With a strong project portfolio management process, good project plans, and clear priorities, adjusting to changed circumstances is easier. The effects on resources and timelines is clearer and conscious decisions can be made on how to shift or reprioritize projects
Strategic implementation goes hand-in-hand with strategic planning, is integral to the success of the strategy, and should receive as much thought and attention as the strategic plan. Strong organizational focus on strategic implementation will go a long way toward making your strategic plan a reality.