“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu
“Strategy is a commodity; execution is an art.” Peter Drucker
Organizations should have a strategic planning process and use that to identify threats and opportunities. The threats and opportunities are used to develop a “to be” state, and a gap analysis should be conducted to identify the delta between that and the current state. Projects are then initiated to bridge that gap.
Each project should have a business case that describes, among other things, why the project is being initiated and the benefits to the organization. The business case is used develop the project charter and once the charter is approved the project begins. It is the project managers responsibility to ensure the project remains strategically aligned and that the business benefits of the deliverable are realized.
Understanding the business benefits and when they will be realized can have a profound impact on how the project will be delivered.
I was once a leader of a large project that was the driven by new legislation. The law required that a defined group of businesses register with the organization by a specific date. At a specific later date we would publish a researchable, downloadable list of the registered businesses. It sounds simple, but there were many complicating factors. We quickly realized that we could not get all this done in time, so we adopted an incremental delivery project plan. We would deliver the user interface, then the storage solution, then the list. Understanding when the benefits were to be realized drove the delivery strategy, but keeping focused on both the project and the benefits was a challenge.
This is a big challenge for most project managers. There is a lot going on in a large project, and as I described in earlier posts the project manager is normally focused on the project metrics, not the product/deliverable metrics.
Luckily for the project manager, PMI® has an artifact to address this challenge – the Benefits Management Plan.
Page 546 of the PMBOK® tells us that “A benefits management plan describes how and when the benefits of the project will be delivered and how they will be measured.” It further goes on to say that the benefits management plan may include target benefits, strategic alignment, timeframe for realizing benefits, benefits owner, metrics, and risks.
This is an important document that doesn’t get discussed enough. A well-done Benefits Management Plan can elevate the need to focus on validation, which asks the question “are we building the right thing?”. Placing this in the Project Management Plan forces the project manager to focus on the product metrics, and in doing so ensures strategic alignment is maintained.
A colleague asked me to describe how to develop this plan. Because the universe of projects is so vast there is no single way to do this! The project “Bill paints his kitchen” will have a much different Benefits Management Plan than the project I described above.
In project management terms, this is called tailoring.
Every project manager needs to know why they are doing the project, strategic alignment, the expected benefits and when those benefits will be realized.
Next I’ll discuss the role of the of the Business Analyst in determining the success of the project.
Many of you have asked me for an update on the unnamed organization I based the “cancel culture” series on, so here it is! Death spiral. If you replace talented experienced managers with unimpressive inexperienced managers, the organization doesn’t get run very well. Goodness begets goodness, and badness begets badness. In this instance, one bad thing continues to lead to another. I suspect that if they don’t make dramatic changes, this 70 year old organization won’t survive to see 2024.