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The best determinant of project success.

New project management research indicates that to be successful, projects must tie directly to business strategy, and project managers must understand how the project supports the strategy.

Many factors influence project success and failure, including schedules, resources and funding. But new project management research from training company Insights Learning and Development, certain chapters of the Project Management Institute* and a strategic execution consultant suggests that the single most important factor influencing project success is the project's link to the organisation's business strategy and the project manager's understanding of how the project supports the business strategy.

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In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
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, the tighter a project's connection to the business strategy, the smoother it will progress. Conversely, the more tenuous tenuous Intensive care adjective Referring to a 'touch-and-go,' uncertain, or otherwise 'iffy' clinical situation  the link between the project and strategy, the more challenges the project will encounter.

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Insights Learning and Development and the Project Management Institute came to this conclusion by comparing two different data sets: the number of challenges project managers who participated in a research study cited vis Ea vis their projects, and the number of project managers who said that their projects have direct strategic value.

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Respondents' rankings of the various challenges their projects face broke down into two groups: One that perceived few project management challenges, and another that saw several challenges strongly impeding project success.

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Among the group that cited fewer problems, 68% said that their project was performing "better than OK." By contrast, only 47% of the other group believed their project was performing at the same level.

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Meanwhile, more than three-quarters (77%) of the 609 survey respondents stated that their projects "have direct strategic value for achieving their organisation's objectives," according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 the research. Nearly one in five (17%) indicated their projects have indirect strategic value; 2.7% said their project was initiated to meet a regulatory requirement Regulatory requirements are part of the process of drug discovery and drug development. Regulatory requirements describe what is necessary for a new drug to be approved for marketing in any particular country. ; 1.8% said their project had no apparent strategic value; and 1.2% didn't know.

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"By looking at which groups are having the most challenges and which ones are having the least, it is clear that the connection of projects to strategy is the best determinant of project progress," write Suzanne Dresser and Mark Morgan Mark Morgan is a video game music composer who has produced the soundtracks of various Interplay computer games. Discography
  • Fallout (1997)
  • Fallout 2 (1998)
  • (1999)
  • (2000)
External links
, authors of the research report. "Projects with more challenges were less likely to have clear strategic value."

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Project managers need to understand a project's value

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Strategic value alone is not enough to ensure project success, as the data suggests. Project managers need to understand the business strategy and how the project supports it. Unfortunately, Dresser and Morgan note, project managers don't always understand the strategic nature of the projects they're overseeing. Of the 77% of project managers who think they're working on something strategic, only 24% knew it was strategic because someone told them or because they saw it in a written document.

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Consequently, project managers lack "the context required to flag when the project is veering from its original intent and course-correct towards the intended strategic outcome," they write. And that's when cost and time overruns begin and when projects start to veer from business requirements.

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Portfolio management helps keep projects on track

Part of the reason project managers don't know projects are strategic is because projects are chosen in many organisations in an ad-hoc manner. Half of survey respondents said that projects are selected in their organisations on the basis of a stakeholder stakeholder n. a person having in his/her possession (holding) money or property in which he/she has no interest, right or title, awaiting the outcome of a dispute between two or more claimants to the money or property.  requiring it or through some other informal process, or they indicated that they didn't know how projects were chosen.

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Since projects are often initiated through informal processes, organisations shift project priorities in an equally informal manner. This severely complicates project managers' work.

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"The top challenge cited by project managers is 'changing priorities among projects impacts resources available to the team,'" write Dresser and Morgan. "There is no question that strategies need to be flexible in this challenging economic environment, but once the projects are chosen and underway, there needs to be limitations on resource shifting as this can dilute the effectiveness of a project. Project managers noted that the number of bodies on the team is less important than having the people with the right capability at the right time."

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Dresser and Morgan recommend that organisations connect project selection and portfolio management to the strategic planning Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people.  process to ensure that the projects an organisation undertakes are quantifiably strategic and to prevent shifting priorities from hampering project success.

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Insights Learning and Development and the PMI See Private Mortgage Insurance.  chapters conducted the research from May through September 2009. They surveyed 609 professionals, most of whom are project managers working in North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. , the United Kingdom, India and Spain. Eight-five percent of respondents hold project management certifications and have a minimum of four years of experience. They were asked to pick a current or recent project as their frame of reference for the survey, and the projects they chose were evenly distributed across the project life cycle. The research report is available on Insights' website.

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Publication:Computer News Middle East
Date:Nov 30, 2009
Words:838
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