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Achieving operational or strategic goals in a project management way.

The first two months of the year have ended. Yesteryear's performance went under the microscope, strategic goals are reviewed, adjusted and formalized for the next five years. It's time for organizations to start accelerating their operational activities into full swing to achieve annual goals.

There comes

the biggest challenge for the

mid-management executives. They have to strike a balance between strategic and

operational demands. They have to stick to achieve their strategic goals when

operational activities are always pressing them for time and effort. Even

though the operational activities are always urgent and it is strategic

activities that are most important for the future of organization. Therefore,

it is important for managers to stay focussed and steadily move ahead to

achieve their strategic goals. But in practice, this is not easy.

Under the current recessional business

environment, organizations have started taking their strategic goals seriously.

These organizations realize that short term urgencies are overwhelming their

more important strategic focus. Operational urgencies will always be there but

digressions from strategic

objectives cannot be avoided. This belief

has led organizations to set up a Project Management Office (PMO) as a unit

which would plan, manage and monitor projects all

across the organization.

However, due to recessional factors not all organizations can set up a PMO or hire a dedicated

project manager to run the projects, even though it would be the best thing for

them to do. Under unavoidable

circumstances a progressive line manager would like to take the mantle of

organizing things in-house. However, due to inexperience or due to pressing

business need it is quite likely for them to get disoriented easily. Here are a

few tips that would help a non-project manager to manage the project and get

desired results.

Initiate with setting an objective - The

first thing is to begin with by setting an objective. What do you want to achieve? Setting an objective will

ensure you and anyone who is involved, directly or indirectly, to

understand what you want to achieve.

This is your vision statement for

the project. Unless you have clear

vision you will never be able to set your

course in the right direction.

An objective has to be a crisply written

one line sentence, clearly defining what you

want to achieve. Below are two samples of objectives -

Sample 1 - Reduce total expenditure by 15%

within one year across organization.

Sample 2 - Document all

the processes for four departments by quarter end.

Take your

management into confidence - If you

are not the top boss you will have

to get the blessings of your immediate boss or higher-ups in the hierarchy.

Your management leaders are your

primary stakeholders. They are your

project sponsors. You need to brief them about your

intentions and final benefits. This is very important. If your management doesn't appreciate your intentions, they can easily pull the plug on your project and ruin your

effort at any point of time. Most projects die premature deaths because

management is unable to foresee any

benefit coming.

Earn the confidence of all those who the project will impact - This process

is called stakeholder analysis.

Whoever is affected by your project

is a stakeholder in your project.

The effect of your project on them

can be positive or negative. You need to make an effort to convince them the

importance of project and the benefit it would bring to the organization and

eventually to them. You might need

to hold many workshops with them to earn their confidence. Let me assure you, this is not easy. There is always resistance

when people have to do things differently. They resist coming

out of their comfort zone. But for

the success of project you will have

influence to them, by motivation or by coercion.

Set a perimeter for your

project activities by defining scope - You need to articulate the scope of your project. Which means, you

need to specify what you are going

to do, and what you wouldn't do?

This will be like a constitution for you,

so that you don't digress from what you

have planned.

During the course of the project, you might find so many very important items that you must include in the project which you had not included in the project when you conceived it. Let me tell you,

these seemingly important things might derail your

project. Almost every second project is marred by such important things and is

a reason for derailment of projects every day, across all

industries and across the world. Therefore, my sincere advice to you is, stick to your

project scope till you finish it.

You might start another project after completion

of the first where you can

incorporate other important requirements which you

have deferred in this project.

You need to plan and plan again - You need

to plan the sequence of activities, resources or material requirements to

achieve project objectives. Which activities to succeed another? What kind of

material you would need and when?

Which team member or resource you

want to involve throughout the project or do you

need them on certain occasions? What are those occasions and when are they

likely to occur? The more detailed the plan is, the better it is. However, a

project plan keeps evolving as you progress.

Don't get overwhelmed by desire to develop a perfect plan to initiate the next

step, make a base plan, review it

periodically and enhance it.

Delegate, as supermen are fictitious

characters - Let us admit, you

cannot do everything in your project

on your own. You would need a team

of specialists or generalists to help you

achieve your project actives.

Delegation is the key to your

project success. It is team work that will ensure quality and timely delivery of your

project. You need to identify team members at your

disposal and assign them tasks based on their competencies.

Some of your

team members might be capable of

performing multiple tasks and some

might be specialized. At the same time these project resources would be

performing their regular work as well. Therefore, you

need to make sure you are utilizing

their skills in the best way.

Actual execution of tasks as per plan- The

actual execution takes place when the team members perform their tasks as per

the project plan in order to meet project requirements.

Detailed requirements can be defined in the

beginning of your execution process.

You would like to elaborate your

scope of work to define the requirements. These project requirements may be

very elaborate or very concise, depending upon the project. However, these are

very critical for you to define, as

the success of your project delivery will be adjudged against these requirements.

As already mentioned earlier, there will be many important requirements which

were out of your initial scope, yet

now these seem important. You might feel excited to cover these requirements in

your current project or at times you might be pressured as well. Don't fall for them. These are scope creepers and would

derail your project. You might keep

an inventory of such requirements to be considered for future projects.

As the tasks are performed their quality

has to be monitored as well. You would like to know if individual tasks are

performed as per requirements and as per organizational standards or not. If individual

tasks do not meet the requirements, the overall

quality of the end result suffers. You might finish the project, but a project

with no quality will be meaningless.

Overtime, as a project manager you would monitor the project progress, communicate the status to stakeholders, adjust the

project plan, expedite some tasks or

delay some tasks. Your best ability

will be to deliver the project with

required quality and meeting all the

requirements, which are expectations from

the project, within allocated time

and budget.

Is your

project bound by cost? - Often your

project will be tied to budget. You might have to achieve your project objective within the budget allocated to you.

With the allocated budget you would bear the cost of resource and material.

Finishing a project within budget can become

a big factor to your project

success. However, in a situation where cost management is key for project

success, if the project is very specialized, it

might not be suitable for a

novice project manager to handle, and it

will be better to hire a professional project manager for such projects.


holds the key to your success - Most

projects fail in dearth of communication.

Communication between you, the project manager, the stakeholders and

project team is essential. The communication

with the stakeholders will be determined by the size of stakeholders. Be it

over email, newsletters or direct meetings, whichever means you chose, you

need to make sure that you communicate with your

stakeholders periodically and

without fail during the entire length of the project, and the same with your team. However, you

will have to communicate with your team more frequently, maybe daily or even more

than once in a day appraising project progress, assigning roles and

responsibilities and adjusting the project plan.

Projects often succumb to unforeseen

obstacles - All projects are prone to risks, which can prevent projects

concluding or they conclude without achieving their objectives. Project risks

are diversified. Your project is at risk when your

team members are not diligent enough or do not turn up, your

stakeholders are not cooperative or the material you

purchased didn't turn up on time. It can be anything very simple or very big

but affects you to progress with your project. You need to identify such risks

proactively and make provision to tackle them in case they occur. You need to

create an alert mechanism which would help you

tackle such risks before they pull your

project down.

The project rollout - When you have successfully met all

the requirements of the project, it will be time for you

to roll out the project for the stakeholders to benefit from it directly.

If you

are rolling out a new system for end users who are your

stakeholders, you might have to train

them for the usage of system. If your

project was to reduce expenditure by 15%, then your

management are your stakeholders. At

the end of the project, your

management will witness the success of the project by actual reduction in

expenditure. You would have to train your

colleagues to keep expenses low.

In any case you

will have to retrain your users to

perform their tasks differently from

what they have been doing earlier. Changing the user mindset is really a big task and quite critical for the project.

If your stakeholders are unable to perceive the benefit of your project and do not participate in rollout then your project will not take off. It might take some effort but let me assure you,

it's worth it.

There are various ways to accomplish goals that are set for you in an organizational environment. You might do

things randomly as they come. Your random

approach might have given you

results so far. But it is not certain that you

will get lucky all the time, especially when you

have to manage many parallel tasks.

There is a proven methodology of achieving targets. It is best for

professionals and professional organizations to use the time tested methods to

achieve their goals effectively.

There are various methodologies while

managing their projects. However, following the simple methods, as stated

above, will help non project managers achieve their strategic or operational


Hemanshu Joshi is a Dubai based project manager with total 12

years of IT experience in three core areas of Project Management, Presales and

Organizational Strategy. He has been invited to business schools to address MBA

students. He is a regular commentator

on PM Network, an international magazine published

by Project Management Institute (PMI). His recent articles are published at


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Date:Mar 16, 2012
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