Aligning Project to Corporate Strategy and Goals

Alignment: Using the Balanced Scorecard to Create Corporate Synergies

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Author:Robert S. Kaplan, David P. Norton
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Released: April 2006
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 320
ISBN:978-0201835953

Projects build capabilities to met corporate goals. If you are a CEO, you need to make sure your employees and vendors know what those goals are and how they fit in to the plan. If you are a project manager, you need to know the bounds of you project. If you are anywhere in-between, you need to understand how all the pieces fit together and keep it all aligned.

Most organizations consist of multiple business and support units, each populated by highly trained, experienced executives. But often the efforts of individual units are not coordinated, resulting in conflicts, lost opportunities, and diminished performance.

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Trust relationships, certifications, and standards sound like such a safe harbor. These sound like such great words in a proposal or statement of work. How could you possibly go wrong building a trusted relationship with a customer by committing to follow a standard? In fact, this can burn you… in court.

No one ever starts a project with the goal of ending up in court. In fact, litigation may never cross your mind; after all, you have built a trusted partner relationship. Taking a few cautionary steps, however, will make your life easier if you end up in that ill-fated litigious position. Your best chances for success come long before you enter the courtroom—even before the project starts.

Published in Project Rescue
The Seven Arts of Change: Leading Business Transformation That Lasts

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Author:David Shaner
Publisher: Union Square Press
Released: November 2010
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 184
ISBN:978-0201835953

This book is currently under review, more details will be added when available

In my opinion, as a project manager, you cannot read too many books on handling change. Each gives you a different perspective on how to effectively deliver a project whose product is valuable. This is a lesser known book, but has a great perspective.

Many businesses try to change, but few succeed. At best, a few buzzwords and new reports become part of the company's structure. At worst, programs crash and burn, and the members of the organization become irreparably disillusioned with the revolving door of new-mission statements. According to David Shaner-a business consultant with a 100% success rate of change at companies including Duracell, Frito-Lay, Caesars Palace and Gillette-the problem is that those changes don't address either individuals or the corporate culture. They're only on the surface.

Published in Suggested Books
In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies

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Author: Thomas J. Peters
Publisher: HarperBusiness
Released: February 2006
Type: Softcover
Pages: 400
ISBN:978-0201835953

This book is currently under review, more details will be added when available

If you want to explore and improve your leadership style, this is a "Must Read." Why leadership? Because projects struggle under managers and they excel under leaders. Not only that, but this also gets you thinking and talking like your business leaders. How can you communicate with them if you do not think like them?

Touted as the "Greatest Business Book of All Time" (Bloomsbury UK), In Search of Excellence has long been a must-have for the boardroom, business school, and bedside table.

Published in Suggested Books
Thursday, 24 September 2015 14:58

Strategic Alignment: The Key To Project Success

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Project success rates for many companies and government organizations are dismally low, yet executives never seem to look at the big picture. They continue to make adjustments in the way projects are run by addressing isolated problems. However, projects are part of a much larger system and should be addressed in that context. To do that, companies must define how their strategic plan will use people, projects, and technology to achieve their goals. This paper discusses one approach to make this happen.

Published in White Papers

Picture of ducks facing off

As mentioned last week, alignment is of the utmost importance. Achieving alignment, at first glance, is easier when the supplier works for the same company as the customer, say an IT organization delivering a new application to a business unit. However, from my experience there is little difference. In fact, exploring a vendor's world, where access to the customer is inhibited, sheds significant light on techniques to improve the customer-supplier relationship. Classically, vendors must wait for a request (RFP or RFQ) before they can get access to the customer. Exploring ways of "fishing up stream," as an eloquent account manager friend of mine says, is critical in improving project success. To understand this we need to review a couple of case studies on vendor success and failure.

Sunday, 10 October 2010 00:00

It Is All About Alignment, Not Expectations

Picture of mise en place

I have always enjoyed cooking and rarely thought of it as a chore, let alone a project; however, when my wife became ill, I became the household chef and had to learn a new way to cook. Every evening was a project with varying degrees of success. Eventually making multi-course meals from scratch became easier. I used to joke that cooking Chinese food was two hours of chopping fresh vegetables and ten minutes with three blazing woks.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015 10:36

Disband Your PMO

After nearly 30 years of project work, I struggle to understand the role of a project management office (PMO). Even though, I have written of the pros and cons, and read a plethora of articles, opinions, and how-to guides little has been done to convince me that the PMO is reducing project failure. It seems to be nothing more than a tool to fill a void in leadership? Even the acronym, which is so widely thrown around, has little meaning as the "P" has no less than four meanings. It is an executive's crutch for their lack of understanding in how projects work. These, like other, unattended holes in the corporate accountability create opportunities for new and greater bureaucracies and empires that further obfuscate accountability.

Sunday, 08 May 2011 00:00

Executive's Role in Project Success

Dilbert cartoon

Few would question that executives are responsible for ensuring projects are aligned with the corporate strategy. They also need to ensure these initiatives remain in line with these goals as business conditions change. To achieve this, they have to be engaged with the project when it starts and maintain that context throughout its life cycle. This requires more than ensuring the project maintains its scope, schedule, and budget; projects must deliver value. Too many projects start with the inspirational support of upper management, but as the project (or company) drifts, the executives have long since disengaged from the project and are unable to straighten out the misalignment. This wastes company resources and hinders the company's ability to deliver.

Sunday, 08 July 2012 00:00

Stop All IT Projects!

Again, I was chided for saying there are no Information Technology projects. This time, the excuse was that the company built software. I countered my antagonist by asking if the same group that built their software also maintained the account system, workstations, email, and network. "No, that is a separate group." He was missing that his company's production group was not IT. Information Technology is the support group... and yes, they should not be doing anything that fails to directly affect getting product out the door or reducing costs. Every project's goal must be to deliver to the operational needs of the company—selling product—not to the whims and desires of the IT group. If a project fails to address the needs of the customer (directly or indirectly), then it should never see a penny of funding. This seems such an elementary concept, but it is routinely violated by techno-bigots trying to implement the latest toy or tool.

Published in IT Assessment
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