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Enterprise Project Governance: How to Manage Projects Successfully Across the Organization

SERIES ARTICLE 

Promoting Strategic Alignment 

By Paul Dinsmore & Luiz Rocha 

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Related-yet-unique worlds hold in balance the essence of business and organization success.  The first world, one of strategy and  direction, is populated by business strategists whose calling is to divine the future and develop a winning business strategy; the second, related to translating intentions into results is populated by project managers obsessed with getting things done.  Each looks at the world through very different lenses.  But in spite of these differences, both worlds must conspire to move companies towards their goals.  The functions differ, yet they are highly complementary.

Since gaps exist between the responsibilities and the mindsets of the key players in these differing worlds, challenges in communications are commonplace.  An effective strategy is not separate from an organization’s endeavors. To the contrary, it surrounds, permeates and guides them. Therefore, major alignment is called for, aimed at dealing with the fuzzy area between strategic planning and project implementation where roles and responsibilities are unclear and communications and relationships are equally opaque.

Once leadership is in place, the next step is to establish direction and create an agenda. Then come people alignment and the development of a human network for achieving the agenda. To get the agenda executed people need to be inspired and motivated to produce change that results in the outcomes associated with strategy. This is achieved by:

  • Communicating the strategy throughout the organization

Alignment of players in support of a common business strategy is a key factor to achieve success in all company settings. Alignment implies being lined up and heading in the same direction, so that the e organization converges towards the business strategy.  Thus management style and corporate culture come into play, expressly to align the hearts and minds of people behind the organization’s strategic intent.

  • Adopting portfolio selection and management of individual projects as well as program management practices

Whereas a business strategy lays out broad directions and determines what is to be accomplished, the portfolio of projects defines how the strategy is to be put into effect. Projects are the true traction point for strategic execution. It is the project that develops new businesses, markets, products, services, systems, skills, and alliances. A company’s project portfolio drives its future value.  Successful strategic execution requires tightly aligning the project port­folio to the corporate strategy. These projects then become part of the portfolio of projects, and the players involved marshal forces behind each project, which in turn contributes to the overall company goal.

The aggregate of an organization’s wide range of projects is its portfolio of projects.  Some of those projects may be freshly approved, others in the planning or implementation phases and yet others zeroing in on completion. Aside from the timing variances, they are likely to vary in nature, including strategic initiatives, capital expenditure, product launch and operational improvement.  The challenge for top management includes maintaining a company’s project portfolio aligned with the business strategy and with available resources, and at the same time insuring that projects are aligned with one another and with the organizational structure. Only by continuously reviewing the project portfolio, carefully allocating avail­able resources, and consciously realigning the organization can a company bring its proposed strategy to life.

An organization’s portfolio of projects is the offspring of the business strategy.  Based on those strategies, projects are developed aimed at generating the benefits envisioned by the strategists. The project portfolio lies at the crossroads where vision, leadership and strategy meet culture, people, processes, systems, performance and results. There is simply no effective way to execute strat­egy other than it be fully formalized or delegated within the organization. The portfolio is the true materialization of an organizations intent, direction and progress.

For that to happen, collaboration is required between business strategists and project strategists aiming at answering the following questions:

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This series includes articles by Paul Dinsmore and Luiz Rocha, authors of the book Enterprise Project Governance, published by AMACOM in the USA in 2012.  The articles are extracts and summaries of key topics from their book, providing information and guidance on one of the most important aspects of portfolio, program and project management today – governance.  For information about the book, go to http://www.amacombooks.org/book.cfm?isbn=9780814417461

About the Authors

usa-brazilpaul-dinsmorePaul C. Dinsmore

Paul Dinsmore is President of Dinsmore Associates, and a highly respected specialist in project management and organizational change. A certified project management professional (PMP), he has received the Distinguished Contribution Award and Fellow Award from the Project Management Institute (PMI®). He regularly consults and speaks in North America, South America, Europe and Africa.  Paul is the author and / or editor of numerous articles and 18 books, including the AMA Handbook of Project Management. Mr. Dinsmore resides in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

flag-brazilluiz-rochaLuiz Rocha

Luiz Rocha has 35+ years of experience in the industry and business consulting. Luiz worked with Andersen Consulting and Delloite in the USA and Europe when he had the opportunity to manage multi-cultural and geographically dispersed projects in Latin America, North America and Europe. In Brazil he worked with Dinsmore Associates and Petrobras. Luiz is an engineer by background, MSc. in industrial engineering from UFRJ – Brazil, PMP-PMI and IPMA certifications. He is also a published author with two previous books, Business Metamorphosis, in Brazil, and Mount Athos, a Journey of Self-Discovery, in the USA. Luiz can be contacted at [email protected].