Strategic Focus

Strategy always comes before any tactics. It's similar to thinking before doing. The strategy must be correct before we select a project or development methodology. In other words, you must be doing the right thing and only then can the necessary tactics support that newfound strategy. (It's like executing a certain methodology only after we know what our objectives are.) Strategy as it has always been and will always remain is the perpetual struggle for advantage. The objective of strategy is to take actions that build, sustain, and compound advantage. Acquiring and retaining customers are functions of your advantages. Parrying competitors is a function of your advantages. Competitive organizations that parry with their competitors do so in order to understand their competition, allowing them to understand, maintain or build leaner, quicker processes, eventually coming in earlier to market with better products.

History proves that the best strategy and tactics are achieved in areas fundamental to the core strengths of the company (i.e., having a project management discipline). With the right strategy, the battle is only half won; the strategy succeeds only with professional execution of tactics. Many problems arise when planning is separated from that execution. The important thing is to get started. Too much time spent on planning is also not good. You get caught up doing so much planning and strategizing that you never move forward you end up wasting time on planning and that breeds indecisiveness and error.

It is often better to engage in some form of simultaneous planning and implementation (e.g., this is where concepts such as RAD, OO&D, and concurrent engineering make huge impacts on project executions). A common mistake is to consider planning as only a mental process, an idea in our heads that looks at the past and adjusts to the future. If your plan is not in writing, you really don't have a plan at all. A simple written plan works best.

The purpose of strategy is to provide rapid direction and concentration of effort as organizations continually strive to improve their position or gain the upper hand in the marketplace. Speed is the ultimate factor here. Throughout history, winning generals developed ways and means of moving faster than their opponents. Napoleon's troops marched at 120 paces per minute while his opponents marched at only 70 paces. Because Napoleon's troops marched almost twice as fast as his opponents' troops, speed gave him a tremendous advantage, which was a major contributor to his success. Using this analogy, project managers also need to use a methodology that is not only faster than the competition, but also that is disciplined enough to ensure that the products or systems are developed, tested, and implemented properly. Figure 1.6 depicts two scenarios. The left side shows an organization faced with an unprofitable situation the strategy is not correctly aligned to its portfolio of projects. On the right-hand side of the illustration, we see an organization that has undergone an assessment; as a result, its objectives are aligned to its project portfolio.

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Figure 1.6: Rationale for considering a methodology.

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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