Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent–Part 2

This is a series of notes on Terry Schmidt’s book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, which adds the Logical Framework or LogFrame Approach to traditional project management in order to facilitate strategic planning. The fourth chapter of his book is called “Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent”, and it takes the concepts of the LogFrame Approach that were applied to individual projects in chapters 2 and 3, and shows how they can be used at the level of programs and portfolios.   The first part I wrote last Friday details how programs and portfolios are related to projects.  This second part today details how the strategic vision of the organization percolates down through portfolios, programs, and projects, and how the LogFrame Approach can be used to make sure that they all remain connected to that strategic vision.

1.  Outcome, Purpose, and Goal of a Project

Remember that the first critical strategic question at the level of a project asks

What are we trying to accomplish and why?

Well, the “What are we trying to accomplish” portion of this critical strategic question corresponds to the Outcome of the project, in other words, what product, service, or result is the project designed to create?

The “and why?” portion of this critical strategic question actually encompasses two concepts.   The Outcome of the project is designed to fulfill some business need, either out in the marketplace or even within the organization itself.  That business need corresponds to the Purpose of the project.

In addition, the Outcome of the project is designed to accomplish some strategic goal of the organization so that, for example, if the Purpose is achieved, revenue will flow into the organization and make a profit.   The Purpose of the project can be internal or external to the organization; the Goal is always internal to the organization itself.

2.  Linking Projects into Programs through a common Purpose

The business need of one project can be related to the business need of another project.   For example, in constructing an airplane, each system of the airplane can be designed as a separate project, and these projects are coordinated into a common Program.   They have a common Purpose, which is to create a high-quality aircraft.   The systems not only have to work well on their own, but they have to work well together.   The reason for integrating them into a common Program will create some strategic benefit for the organization as well, because there will be cost savings if parts are shared between systems, and there will be fewer mistakes in the manufacturing process if the engineers who work on the design of the various systems communicate well with each other from the start.

3.  Linking Programs into Portfolios through a common Goal

Although the design of a helicopter, a commercial aircraft, and a fighter jet may be very different, because they are all designed to fit different business needs, they will have a common strategic goal in making more profitable the company which makes the aircraft.   So a Portfolio links Programs together through a Common Goal.

4.  Linking Goals into a Strategic Vision

The financial goal of profitability is one of the most common goals of an organization, and it is often referred to by the phrase “the bottom line.”  However, there are other possible “bottom lines” or strategic goals and ways of measuring them.   Here are five possible strategic Goals/Measures for an organization.

Type of Strategic Goals Possible Measures
1. Financial Goals Rate of return, profits, sales growth, cash flow, savings
2. Customer Goals Numbers, satisfaction level
3. Operational Effectiveness Performance indicators (hotel occupancy, mean time between   failure, efficiency ratios)
4. Employee Goals Number, turnover, skills growth
5. Community Goals Impact on local community

What could link these various Goals together?   The strategic vision of a company, which should be the responsibility of a CEO to create and then share with the organization.   Ideally, all of the above goals that are relevant to an organization should somehow be included in this strategic vision.

If the strategic vision is written in clearly and compellingly, it should be possible to make sure that it is harmonious with the various strategic Goals of the Portfolios, the various Purposes of the Programs, and the various Outcomes of the Projects.

How to do this?  The next post covers the eight logical planning steps involved in making sure a strategic Vision of an organization gets transmitted and translated to it various units.


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