Project Management OfficeStrategic Alignment

How to Maximize the Strategic Impact of Projects

Great PMOs and project leaders look beyond the standard on-time, on-budget metrics of projects these days. They also want metrics to ensure that the projects are producing tangible value for the business. In a post for Strategy Execution, Rebecca Leitch discusses what may be done to better understand the value that projects bring.

A Bigger Bullseye

Value is something that must exist inherently in the nature of a project from the beginning; a bad project cannot just be shoehorned into supporting strategy. That means project leaders and PMOs should be asking basic but essential questions about new projects, like “How does this project support strategy?” and “How are we going to deliver this project?” Likewise, after a project is finished, it is also important to ask questions like “Did project results meet executives’ expectations?”

To ensure and measure the best strategic results on a project, Leitch likes to use PAM: purpose, autonomy, mastery. Purpose regards the ability of the project manager to know precisely how each team member contributes to project success. Autonomy then is when project managers give the team the space to do their jobs. It may be tempting to dictate how people should work, since that it is easier to measure, but better results will come from allowing team members to work and collaborate organically. And about mastery, Leitch writes this:

[W]hen the PMO focuses on the what of a project, it is difficult to justify a budget for training. But if the focus shifts to how the project will get done, it is easier to make the case for it.

Measuring the ROI for training is not about the money spent, but about identifying and defining success. When team members are trained to be valuable project contributors, the PMO can better assess and select the right projects and ensure more repeatable and predictable project processes.

In essence, Leitch’s perspective is that, when you align individual employee skills with a strategically aligned project, you ultimately generate the most value. And by developing a better understanding of individual and team strengths, the PMO becomes more adept at future project and capacity planning.

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