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Strategic project management flowchart

What is strategic project management?

While project management takes a project from its starting point to its end, strategic project management looks at the big picture. It links the project to how it benefits the company’s efficiency and competitiveness.

Strategic project management identifies and implements the organisation’s long-terms goals and objectives into the project. With top tier management involvement, it explains why the organisation exists and the context within which it operates.

There are three common components which drive the project to its ultimate goal for the company:

1. Strategic analysis

This forms the basis for which projects an organisation chooses to undertake. Each project needs to link to the organisation’s mission and be key to meeting long-term objectives.

However, bearing in mind that strategic management is about the big picture, it also addresses external factors that could affect progress. Thus, project managers often use strategic analysis tools such as PESTLE to identify potential issues and minimise their impact.

2. Strategic choice

Just how does a company decide which projects to be involved with? Managing multiple projects is a complex task, and something that project managers do in their daily routine. But deciding on the ‘right’ projects is an important step which requires a strategic choice.

Essentially, it means identifying projects that meet the aspirations and expectations of stakeholders, while also playing to the company’s strengths. There’s also a need to identify and take advantage of external opportunities, while avoiding external threats.

3. Strategic implementation

With the scene set, the third stage of strategic management is implementation. Here, strategic project management sets out the long-, medium- and short-term goals for projects and programmes.

Every company wants to grow. So they need to take advantage of opportunities they create for themselves and optimise external influences. Strategic implementation examines all kinds of benefits, including:

  • The use and benefits of collaborative tools in projects
  • How people and resources are assigned
  • The ‘why?’ of projects, not just at a base level, but from the top of a company.

Measuring the success of strategic project management

Any strategy and project within the ‘bigger picture’ needs to have indicators to measure success. The same is true for strategic project management.

Strategic project managers often use these four categories of performance measurement:

  1. Finance
  2. Customer
  3. Learning and growth
  4. Internal business processes.

Essentially, they provide the basis for defining objectives for programmes, portfolios and projects.

Is strategic project management important?

Yes, and it is a clear benefit to an organisation as it defines its growth path. There needs to be a close, symbiotic relationship between strategic project management and management ‘on the ground’. That’s why it’s an integral part of strong project management leadership skills.