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Project Management Organizational Strategies

Literature Review

This paper examines literature articles intending to explore what has been researched in the area of organizational strategies. More light is shade on project management as a way of implementing organizational strategies.

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Organizational Strategies

Simply defined a strategy is a calculated way of achieving a given objective or set of objectives. In the above definition, the word “calculated” is of great significance as it categorically shows that the way used is premeditated. Strategies are used to ensure that a planned course of action is implemented and more importantly that it succeeds. Strategies are literary used everywhere to implement the desired course of action. Well-calculated strategies give the best result thus the need to be well versed with the challenge for which a strategy is being implemented (Cohen, Eimicke & Heikkila, 2008).

Organizations are always confronted with various situations some of which require immediate attention while others require detailed long-term planning. Simply put, organizational strategies can be viewed as the approaches adopted by an organization in response to a situation that affects the organization in one or many ways, directly or indirectly. Based on the above introductory statements about organizational strategies, it is clear that talking of organizational strategies per se implies a very abstract idea. Some of the situations which may demand an organizational strategy to be drawn can be, for instance, an entry of a competitor firm into the market, a huge loss made by an organization among others. How detailed an organizational strategy should be will depend on the problem to be confronted (Cohen, Eimicke & Heikkila, 2008).

Public and Private Organizational Strategies

Both public and private organizations must come up with strategies to confront the various challenges that they encounter. The type of strategy adopted by an organization will depend more on the challenge to be confronted than on whether it is a private or a public organization. This is because all organizations whether private or public have a common goal of realizing profits and therefore they will tend to use more of the same strategies to confront similar problems (Clements & Jones, 2008). Public organizations are huge by their nature and because of this their strategies might be more detailed than those used by private organizations but then it should be taken into account that there exist private organizations that are equally as large as public organizations.

As already noted, an organizational strategy to be used will depend on the problem that needs to be encountered. But generally, some of the factors which might be put into consideration when developing a strategy will include SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, and the financial position of an organization among others. After a strategy is developed it needs to be implemented (Clements & Jones, 2008).

Implementation

After an organization strategy is drawn up, it needs to be implemented as soon as possible. The process of implementation is as significant as the process of developing the strategies. Improper strategy implementation will lead to the realization of the wrong results. This might be quite detrimental on the part of the organization depending on what the strategy was to confront (Kerzner, 2009). It is therefore of utmost significance that the best approach of implementation is adopted. Some of the most commonly used methods of implementing strategies are through using project and project management programs and program management and portfolio management. To shade more light on these implementation methods, their definitions are highlighted below (Heerkens, 2007).

Project and Project Management

Project and project management is the organization of the required resources in a manner that will lead to the achievement of a targeted objective. Resources in this context include skills, funds, time, tools, and techniques, among other factors. All these factors need to be deliberated well for a project to run well (Kerzner, 2009). Heerkens (2007) argued that a project manager should be mentally prepared if at all he/she has to succeed in managing the project well. A project can be viewed as an agreed path showing all the details on how a given objective or set of objectives will be achieved. Ideally speaking, strategies are components of a project – a project is the bigger picture. Strategies are the finer details of a project and the process of ensuring that the strategies succeed is what we refer to as project management. Project management, therefore, is a broad term that implies the act of ensuring that organizational strategies are successful (Heerkens, 2007).

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Program and Programme Management

This is still part of managing a project. It should be noted that a project encompasses the whole process. Research has shown that the division of labor and related work makes work easier. The breaking of a whole project into sections that can be managed independently towards achieving common goals is referred to as program management. The separate tasks which make up the whole project are therefore the programs; in the words of Young (2003), “program management provides the organization with an opportunity to break down the work into a group of related and interdependent projects” (p. 15). Elsewhere program management has been defined as “the co-ordinated management of a group of related projects to ensure the best use of resources in delivering the projects to the specified time, cost and quality/performance criteria” (Lester, 2006, p. 9).

Portfolio and Portfolio Management

A portfolio is a collection of securities. Portfolio management is the balancing of the securities to ensure that profits are maximized and costs are minimized (Kevin, 2006, p. 1). Portfolio management has been viewed to encompass “all strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the choice of debt vs. equity, domestic vs. international, growth vs. safety, and many other tradeoffs encountered in the attempt to maximize return at a given appetite for risk” (Investopedia, 2011, p. 1). In the context of this review, portfolio and portfolio management can be reduced to mean the art of allocating resources (which can be in form of time, money, skills, etc) to different programs (note that a program is part of a project) to ensure that cost is reduced and the outcome is maximized such that in the long run the objectives of the project are achieved.

Managing Projects

A whole project can be broken down into small tasks or projects which can be accomplished at different times. Managing the different projects well will ensure that the organizational strategy being implemented will succeed. Two issues of significance in managing a project are the success criteria and success factors of a project being undertaken.

Success Criteria

When undertaking a project, the final objective ought to be clear to all the participants in the project. The process of achieving the main objective of the project consists of achieving minor objectives and goals which gradually develop the realization of the main objective of the project. Setting up of minor goals in the short run can act as a signal of the direction of the project. Achievement of the short-term goals is a show that the project is progressing well and thus that acts as a success criterion. Setting up success criteria makes it possible for the process of monitoring to be carried out and thus it becomes possible to make rectifications in case things are not flowing right. Setting up project success criteria is very significant as it acts as a guideline to show that the project is either doing well or otherwise and thus remedial actions can be implemented to ensure that the final main objective is achieved (Wiegers, 2011, p. 1). The table below is a sample project success criterion:

Project Stakeholder Project Success Criteria Measurement Priority
Achieve a customer satisfaction measure of at least four on a scale of five within four months after release. Marketing Human Factors Department approves UI design through usability review. All major severity UI design defects are corrected. 30
UI prototype evaluation with focus group results in at least a 4.2/5.0 rating and enables 90% of high-priority use cases to be performed. Survey of focus group members; count of defined high-priority use cases. 30
Passes acceptance criteria defined by 80% of beta site evaluators. Pass/fail rating by beta sites. 40

Table 1 (Wiegers, 2011, p. 1).

Success Factors

Success factors are the determinants of the progress of the project: Cooke defined these factors as “those inputs to the management system that leads directly or indirectly to the success of the project or business” (Cooke, 2002, p. 185). Success factors ought to be pointed out in projects for accountability. The success factors of projects may not be similar across the board: Belassi and Tukel (1996) came up with the following success factors: the project manager; the project team; the organization; and the external environment (Belassi and Tukel, 1996, p. 144).

Strategies for Managing Projects

To manage a project well, there is a need to come up with a good strategy. According to McEnery and Scott, the following aspect of project management are vital in strategizing how a project will be managed: “defining the project, developing the solution, planning implementation of the solution, developing milestones, reviewing progress, staying on Track/Course correction, and utilizing technology to support project management” (McEnery & Scott, n.d., p. 4).

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Project Life Cycle

As McEnery and Scot have argued above, in the execution of a project some stages have to be executed progressively. The stages can be as named above or they might be different depending on the type of project being executed. Wideman (2004) quoting Patel and Morris pointed out the following distinct stages of a life cycle “opportunity, design & development, production, hand-over, and post-project evaluation” (Wideman, 2004, p. 1). McEnery and Scot developed the following pictorial representation of a typical life cycle of a project.

Typical Life-Cycle Profiles

The stages through which a project goes through to be completed constitute a project life cycle. Proper implementation of a project life cycle will guarantee success for the project.

Project Management Methods

There are many methods that can be used to manage a project. This section will examine three of the main internationally renowned methods used in the management of projects.

PRINCE2

This is a widely used methodology in project management. PRINCE (Projects in Controlled Environment) takes into consideration all the factors that are significant in running a project. PRINCE2 is the latest modification of PRINCE. PRINCE2 is a collection of “linked publications covering everything from business benefits to people issues” (PRINCE, 2011, p. 1). The framework that is developed by PRINCE2 is “scalable, systematic and can be used by for a huge variety of different projects” (PRINCE, 2011, p. 1). PRINCE2 expounds more on the main project stages which make a project life cycle: “starting up, initiation, controlling a stage, managing product delivery, managing stage boundaries and closing a project” (PRINCE, 2011, p. 1).

PMBOK

PMBOK stands for project management body of knowledge and is another widely used method of managing projects. PMBOK is recognized internationally (IEEE std 1490-2003) and is used in managing projects in various fields. PMBOK advocates for five basic groups “initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing” (Haughey, 2011, p. 1). Project processes Under PMBOK are defined in terms of: “Inputs (documents, plans, designs, etc.); Tools and Techniques (mechanisms applied to inputs) and; outputs (documents, products, etc)” (Haughey, 2011, p. 1). PMBOK has developed nine knowledge areas: “project scope management; project time management; project cost management; project quality management; project human resource management; project communication management and; project risk management” (Haughey, 2011, p. 1). Each of the nine knowledge areas are subdivided into sections, for instance, the project procurement management knowledge has the following divisions: “procurement planning; solicitation planning, source selection; contract administration; and contract closeout” (Haughey, 2011, p. 1).

APM

This is an association that has committed itself to the development and promotion of project and program management. Association of Project Management (APM) researches how best projects can be executed. The association has publications and various case studies that can be used to gather information on project management (APM, 2011. p. 1).

Project Management Office

A project management office (PMO) is a very significant office especially for projects which are detailed and time-consuming. The PMO will oversee the running of the project. Heldman (2009) defined a project management office as a “centralized organization unit that oversees the management of projects and programs throughout the organization” (p. 9). A project management office is commonly used to “establish and maintain procedure and standards for project management methodologies and to manage resources assigned to the project” (Heldman, 2009, p. 9). A project management office, therefore, oversees the running of the project life cycle:

Project managers are typically responsible for meeting the objectives of the project they are managing, controlling the resources within the project, and managing the individual project constraints. The PMO is responsible for managing the objectives of a collective set of projects, managing resources across the projects, and managing the interdependence of all the projects within the PMOs authority. (Heldman, 2009, p. 10)

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Depending on the technicality of the project being implemented, an external consultant may be hired to offer technical assistance to the project management office.

Project Management Office Implementation

Project management office implementations entail ensuring that the project management office stages are well executed. The project management stages vary depending on the kind and scope of the project being carried out.

Change Management

In the course of implementing a project, sometimes change needs to be carried out. When executing a change the change implemented depends on the method used to manage the project. It is always significant to give room for uncertainty when planning the execution of a project. Giving room for uncertainty makes it possible to manage well a change in the course of executing a project.

Project Management Maturity Model

One of the methods used to manage a project is the Project Management Maturity Model. A project management maturity model has five distinct stages: “Adhoc, foundation, managed, integrated, and optimizing” (Robertson, n.d., p. 1). Brief details of the fives stages are as below:

  • Adhoc: at this stage, not so many details are involved in the project.
  • Foundation: at this stage, there is a development of consistency; a basic approach to project execution is adopted.
  • Managed: This is the third stage. Consistency is maintained and the approach given a more comprehensive outlook.
  • Integrated: the fourth stage is whereby the project is institutionalized and integrated into planning.
  • Optimization: this is the last stage. At this stage, there is an established approach to ensure constant improvements are carried out throughout the project implementation.

Improving Project Performance

There are many factors that can contribute to the improvement of a project. As a general rule, all the parties in a project have a role to play in improving the performance of a project, for instance, Anantatmula (2010) underscored the significance of a project manager in ensuring that a project performs well. Taking into consideration that the project management profession has greatly advanced, the author nevertheless insisted that “the manager’s leadership role is of great importance in motivating people and creating an effective working environment for the project team to meet greater challenges in today’s global economy” (Anantatmula, 2010, p. 13). Elsewhere “commitment, planning and reliability” (Gonzalez, Alarcon, Maturana, Mundaca, and Bustamante, 2010, p. 1129) have been pointed out as “key factor for improving project performance” (Gonzalez, Alarcon, Maturana, Mundaca, and Bustamante, 2010, p. 1129). Improving project performance cannot be carried out by one party. All the stakeholders must take an active interest in ensuring that the project succeeds.

References

Anantatmula, S. (2010) Project Manager Leadership Role in Improving Project Performance, Engineering Management Journal, 22, 1, pp. 13-22.

APM. (2011) What is project management? Web.

Belassi, W & Tukel, A. (1996) A new framework for determining critical success-failure factors in projects, International Journal of Project Management Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 141-151.

Clements, P & Jones, J. (2008) The Diversity Training Handbook: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Changing Attitudes. New York, NY: Kogan Publishers.

Cohen, S, Eimicke, W & Heikkila, T. (2008) The effective public manager: achieving success in a changing government. New York, NY: John Will and Sons.

Cooke, D. (2002) The “real” success factors on projects, International Journal of Project Management vol.20, pp. 185–190.

Gonzalez, V, Alarcon, L, Maturana, S, Mundaca, F, & Bustamante, J. (2010) Improving Planning Reliability and Project Performance Using the Reliable Commitment Model, Journal of Construction Engineering & Management, 136, 10, pp. 1129-1139.

Haughey, D. (2011) The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). [Online]. Web.

Heerkens, G. (2007) Project Management: 24 steps to help you master any project. New York, NY: Cengage.

Heldman, K. (2009) PMP: project management professional exam study guide. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.

Investopedia. (2011) Portfolio Management. Web.

Kerzner, H. (2009) Project Management: A System Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling. New York, NY: John Willy and Sons.

Kevin, A. (2006) Portfolio management. New York, NY: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.

Lester, A. (2006). Project management, planning and control: managing engineering, construction and manufacturing projects to PMI, APM and BSI standards. New York, NY: Butterworth-Heinemann.

McEnery, J & Scott, A. (n.d.) Strategic for Managing projects. Web.

PRINCE. (2011). Project Management – PRINCE2. Web.

Robertson, K. (2011) Project Management Maturity Model. Web.

Wideman, M. (2004) The Role of the Project Life Cycle (Life Span) in Project Management. Web.

Wiegers, K. (2011) Success criteria breed success. International Business Machines. Web.

Young, T. (2003) The handbook of project management: a practical guide to effective policies and procedures. New York, NY: Kogan Page.

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