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Integrated project management: clarity of purpose and strategy

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Integrated project management involves piecing together expectations to deliver a successful project. In my previous blog I discussed how integrated project management is an art, where effective collaboration and strong leadership are vital. In this blog, we’ll explore clarity of purpose and strategy.

Clarity of purpose

Projects are created with a desired outcome in mind, in other words, there is a reason for each project. When it comes to measuring successful business benefits different parts of a team focus on different goals, which can create conflict.

However, all business areas are important, and so a multidimensional perspective of success is essential. What this means is that when all team members understand the bigger, holistic picture of the desired goal, there is a shared understanding of what it means to each of them.

Why is clarity of purpose important?

Having a shared understanding of the end goal allows all team members to work towards the same goal, balancing their expectations of the end result. It allows for better collaboration to reach these goals more effectively, and by having a multidimensional viewpoint, it allows for fresh and innovative methods in achieving the project goals.

How is clarity of purpose achieved?

  • Planning. All projects require a brief, endorsed by the project board, where clearly defined benefits are set, and measures of success and KPIs are established. In order to achieve a clear purpose, all team members must understand the reasons the project is being introduced as well as why the project will be beneficial.
  • Communications. All areas of the team will view success differently; it is essential that from inception to delivery there is excellent communication between all team members. All stakeholders should be able to understand the project, why it is needed, how will it be led, and what outcome is expected.
  • Execution. After the plan is created and understood through good communication, clarity of purpose has to be reminded at every stage of execution of project deliverables. This means that there should be periodic reviews against the initially established measures of success and KPIs in order to focus on project success. More so, this allows for readjusting in order to stay true to the desired project outcome.
  • Maintenance. As the project prospers, it is important to assess whether the project is going as expected, if there are any unforeseen circumstances that could change the outcome and if communication is consistently clear. In order to achieve this, communication is needed to update on progress, limits and concerns at various milestones of the project and this allows all team members to understand where the project is.

Looking at any project, large or small scale, you can see if it was successful simply by assessing what the purpose of that project was. If it isn’t clear, then you have your answer.

Clarity of strategy

In order to effectively project manage, strong leadership and collaboration require a clear purpose and strategy, which leads to successful delivery. If the team does not understand the steps required then they will be unable to perform them.

Why is clarity of strategy necessary?

Having a clear purpose is only one side of effectively executing a project, because not only is the reason important, how to achieve each stage is paramount to success. In other words, knowing the destination and journeying to it are two different concepts.

Due to the nature of integrated project management, diversity, innovation, creativity and collaborative working ethos are encouraged from inception. What this means is that leaders – at every level – have some freedom to navigate the project which is empowering and necessary. Each leader can create a strategy within their area of business and expertise, which contributes to the overall project outcome.

How can we achieve clarity of strategy?

  • Role. Each team member and leader must understand their role within the project. How will they achieve their goals and what parts of the project do they own?
  • Resources. Team leaders need to establish each task and what resources they have or could get in order to complete the task. For example, some tasks would be autonomous, whilst others would need more collaboration.
  • Decision Making. Every leader and team member needs to understand the ownership and degree of freedom they have in order to action their tasks. It needs to be clear what limitations would prevent an action or deliverable, such as time, budget or resources.
  • Changes. Periodically, it needs to be reviewed to see if the situation has changed, because if it has, changes need to be addressed and implemented in order to achieve project deliverables.

A clear strategy is complex because unlike clarity of purpose, strategy cannot be planned in detail. A detailed strategy would limit leadership and effectiveness because it narrows the vision, rather than having leaders address each situation as and when it occurs.

So, leaders at all levels should plan according to their tasks and objectives as part of a wider goal to achieve the project result. When a situation occurs that requires a change in strategy, leaders can place plans accordingly, rather than having to reinvent an entire project strategy plan.

Conclusion

Both purpose and strategy are essential components to successful project delivery and integrated project management because one establishes a goal and the other establishes the method.

Integrated project management allows effective decision making for leaders, and by empowering each leader it maintains clarity of strategy and clarity of purpose.

Part one of this series: Integrated project management: leadership and collaboration.

Image: MJgraphics/Shutterstock.com

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