Are you focusing on the right projects?
Posted on 6th November 2017 at 11:14
Is your organisation focusing on the right projects that align with the company strategy and vision? Are you sure your scarce project resources are being deployed in the most effective way?
These are just a couple of questions that most organisations should be asking themselves if they want to ensure the budgets are being spent on the right things.
In this current world of economic uncertainty and increased competition Project and Portfolio management isn't about just doing projects right but doing the right projects!
Any projects that are undertaken should be aligned with the organisations strategy and tracked at every stage of its life-cycle to ensure that they will be met at the end. If markets have changed or the benefits identified at the start are no longer going to be achieved then should you continue with it because 'we are so far down the road'. Probably not!
A much tougher approach needs to take place when looking at the portfolio of projects to ensure that effort and money are being spent on the right things. The key to this is to make sure the organisation has a clear Strategy and Vision in the first place that has been communicated and everyone is working towards it. Without that in place then how will you know if a project will succeed in its goals. Any projects shouldn't be undertaken unless it has a clear business case with projected benefits and an achievable Return on Investment (ROI). You would need to consider scoring projects higher if they relate to legislative or compliance of your business. The latest General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a good example of this and very relevant currently.
I have seen many organisations continue to pour money into an irrelevant project because it was deemed as a 'core project' and no one questioned why it was underway.
Adopt better upfront planning
This isn't easy to implement, but certainly worth while, if projects haven't been managed in this way before. At the very start of a project (normally the Idea stage) timely and detailed information isn't as readily available as further in the lifecycle but doing the due diligence exercise upfront there is a greater chance the organisation will realise a more positive return. Establishing what the success criteria by which to prioritise any decisions is crucial before this process can start and having the ability to review and change the success criteria based on market conditions is key to longer lasting success.
Have regular Portfolio reviews
Implementing a governance process within your organisation to review the list of current projects to see where they are and if they are due to meet their identified benefits and if they are still aligned to the strategy is crucial to ensure focus is kept on the right projects. This could be monthly or quarterly or what ever is suitable for your organisation but make sure they happen and happen on a regular basis. It should be tied in with the upfront planning mention above.
If you don't have a Project Management Office (PMO) function, or maybe you do, it can be a worth while exercise to get some external help as they can provide an unbiased and pragmatic view on the projects and provide useful insights which may not be clear if you are too close to the detail.
Have the courage to say 'No' and stop failing projects
Not all projects should continue (for the reasons discussed above) and stopping a project that no longer (or never did) align with the strategy or the benefits are no longer going to be achieved is much better than letting it carry on. This is an area that is the hardest for organisations to swallow as allot of investment could have already been given to the project and there will be no return if it is stopped but it will save money in the long run.
Using the corporate strategy to drive project investment is going to ensure your precious resources are used in the most effective way, mitigate risks and give the benefits you need to sustain growth. Assigning projects in a more tactical way will bring greater benefits and minimise risk and help drive your organisation forward positively.
Green Giant Consulting Ltd offer a Project Review service where we can come in for a fixed period (normally two weeks) to perform a health check on the portfolio of projects. At the end of the exercise you will be presented with a report showing all the projects, their current status including spend to date, projected spend to complete, benefits and alignment to your strategy. It will also detail any recommendations to ensure the portfolio is working in the best way for your organisation.
If you believe that your portfolio of projects aren't delivering what you need and you want some unbiased advice then contact Green Giant Consulting today on 0844 259 6210 or visit www.greengiantconsulting.co.uk to book your free initial 2-hour consultation to talk through your challenges.
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