Winning Strategy Depends on Successful Tactics

Leaders, and the strategies they launch, are often undone by poor tactical execution. It happens several times during a single basket ball game. Just watch the coach's pained expressions. It happens to philharmonic conductors, generals, and most certainly to managers and executives. The best strategy in the world—complete with compelling mission, proper budgeting, appropriate resource assignments, and visible executive sponsorship—will end up as a failure if the tactical programs required to execute it aren't well managed.

Nowhere else is the role of tactical execution more critical than in IT, with its unusually large numbers of projects, cross-functional delivery and sponsorship arrangements, and role as a corporate change agent. This last function shouldn't be overlooked since most successful IT projects change work processes and routines throughout the enterprise. Sometimes it is a small change, like upgrading the e-mail system, and sometimes it is a big change, like implementing a new AP system. And some might consider a small change like the e-mail upgrade a big change, thus highlighting the challenge of the change agent.

Tactical execution used to focus simply on project management. To this technique many world-class IT organizations are placing increasing weight on process management to address those business challenges that are perpetual, unlike projects that have beginnings, middles, and ends. Examples of IT-MG organizational processes are idea and opportunity management, phase-gated processes, and after-action feedback assessments.

However, project management across the panoply of IT programs remains a core competency. Gantt charts, critical path analysis, task tracking, time capture, and estimates to completions are all as central today as ever before. The challenge for large organizations is to optimize execution at more than just the individual project level. This is because project managers can be successful as individuals while programs stumble, strategies crumble, or the organization as a whole fails.

Therefore, tactical management systems must scale from the management of individual projects up to the management of programs that are full of projects, and then ultimately up to the management of asset allocation criteria that are supported by multiple projects, programs and initiatives (see Table 6.2-1).

TABLE 6.2-1 Sample Enterprise Project Map Linked to Portfolio Management

Portfolio Criteria


Cost Reduction

Regulatory Compliance

Data Center Consolidation System Consolidation

Sarbanes-Oxley Privacy


Memphis into Erie Paris into London Hong Kong into Singapore

Evaluate each AP system

Develop a superset AP system

Migrate users to the super-AP

Map Section 404 exposure points

Implement new Section 404 controls

Develop customer privacy policy

Conduct gap analysis against policy

Close the gap

Enterprise project management is not done at the desktop computer level. Detailed planning is often done at this level. But enterprise project management requires an enterprise system, one that is broadly and easily accessible, consistent, coordinated, secure, and designed for the needs of large organizations.

In addition, an enterprise project management system must go beyond task planning and status tracking. It should richly support the collaboration requirements of project teams (threaded discussions, document management, and the like) because they are usually cross-functional (and therefore not used to working with one another), often geographically dispersed, and occasionally operating in more than one language, given the prevalence of offshore development.

Critically, just as the portfolio management module described in the previous section must seamlessly link to the enterprise project management module, so too is the corollary true: tactical transactions and activity must seamlessly bubble up to portfolio management. In this way, not only line managers will know what's really going on but also senior and executive-level management.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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