Aligning Projects with Strategic Intent–Part 3


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.  The second part I wrote yesterday 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.    This third part today talks about the eight logical planning steps involved in strategic planning and execution at the level of the business unit.

Step 1–Clarify the Planning Context and Issues

Question 1:  What are your primary motivations from the planning process?  Are the primary motivations related to:

–Attracting new customers

–Improving existing procedures

–Strengthening teamwork

–Entering a new market (new to the organization)

Question 2:  What are the desired Outcomes (multiple Outcomes are possible) from the planning process?

Question 3:  Identify the “system” for which you are doing the plan.

–Intact units

–Cross-functional group

NOTE:  Sometimes you need to define what is not included in your system of interest.

Step 2:  Involve Key Players

Get input from all key players.   This means key internal and external stakeholders (customers in particular) to identify their concerns and needs.   Now the means of giving input can vary, from:

–Structured focus groups

–Customer surveys

–Joining planning team meetings

–Reviewing interim results

–Getting briefed on final results

Step 3:  Scan Your Environment

1.  Examine the plans of

–All relevant business units

–Key outside organizations

–Customer base

Extract Objectives and highlights those efforts that relate to yours.

2.  Conduct an broad-brush, external environmental scan to identify trends, events, and drivers that influence your future directions.

Identify the SKEPTIC factors to see which may impact your project during its life:

  • S (Societal)
  • K (Competitive)
  • E (Economic/Environmental)
  • P (Political)
  • T (Technological)
  • I (Industrial)
  • C (Consumer/Client)

Step 4:  Revisit Your Vision/Mission/Values

Having each unit develop its own vision, mission, and value or VMV statements allows them to appreciate how they deliver real value to their customers and to each other.

Vision means what we wish to see in the future that we can affect.   

Mission means how we will get there.   

Values are norms of conduct, such as:

  • Take responsibility for actions
  • Continuously improve
  • Focus on the customer
  • Respect each other

These values represent a shared code of conduct, and they can be made less vague and more real for by converting them into a a set of observable behaviors (do’s and don’ts).

Step 5:  Sharpen Your Goals and Measures

Examples of measures you can use are:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Provide products efficiently (delivering products on time and at reasonable cost)
  • Team effectiveness, cohesiveness
  • Utilization of best practices
  • Increased public awareness of products

These measures should ultimately support those Goals mentioned in the Vision statement.

Step 6:  Develop Core Strategies

The various Goals derived from the Vision statement need to be developed into a manageable set of strategies which collectively deliver the measurable results set forth in Step 5.   The chosen strategies should provide solutions to current problems and build future capacity.

Then you need to analyze those strategies in relationship to the success measures developed in Step 5.   Here’s a generic Strategies-Measures matrix.

KEY SUCCESS MEASURES

CORE STRATEGIES

1. 2. 3. 4.
1.  Financial
2.  Customers
3.  Operational Effectiveness
4.  Employee
5.  Community

You can put a checkmark or put a score from 1 to 5 to show the estimated degree of impact of each strategy on each of the success measures.   This will establish a strong framework for achieving superior performance and delivering outstanding customer value.

Step 7.  Turn Strategies Into Execution Plan

After the coherent set of strategies has been defined, the next step is creating an action plan and building unified implementation teams.   In order to not interfere with the regular operational work, you may stagger the implementation of the various core strategies.  Using the matrix shown above in Step 6, you can list the owner’s of each of the core strategies and list the start of their implementation chronologically, like so:

CORE STRATEGIES

1. 2. 3. 4.
Strategy Owner Name 1 Name 2 Name 3 Name 4
1st Quarter
2nd Quarter
3rd Quarter
4th Quarter

Each of these core strategies will have its own LogFrame, of course.

Step 8.  Follow Up and Continue the Process

With the implementation calendar developed in Step 7, you can have periodic reviews and refinement of the implementation plan.
With these steps, the LogFrame approach can be used to take a Vision, Mission, and Value statement of the organization, and turn it into a strategic implementation plan that can be used by various units, a cross-functional team, or any designated subsection of the organization.
This concludes the fourth chapter, and the first part of the book which illustrates what strategic thinking is and how the LogFrame approach can facilitate it.   The second part of the book delves into the four critical strategic questions that were introduced in chapter 2, and illustrates how the LogFrame approach introduced in chapter 3 can answer those questions.   It gets into the nitty-gritty detail about how to create a LogFrame for your project, so if your appetite was stimulated by the first part of the book, it’s now time to dive into the buffet!
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