Finding That Winning Project Formula

How many times have I participated in webinars, seminars, read articles and participated in or facilitated workshops to discover the magic ingredient that will help me deliver project success?
When I think back on one of my recent projects at Burges salmon, I am struck by how it contained many of those success factors that the Association of Project Management (APM), in its report on project success back back in 2014, identified. [1]
A compelling strategic rationale
Despite the fact that many corporate strategies are taught in books, training courses, and accreditations, many internal projects result from individual teams who want to advance certain areas of work within their own sphere of influence.
Yes, all business case templates will include a section asking about strategic context. However, each template will have a different level of conviction. But, I have rarely seen programs or projects originating from an organization’s core strategy.
Burges Salmon’s latest project, which updated our firm’s strategy as well as launched a new website and image, is an example of such a project.
Law firms and other professional service firms sell their services in highly competitive markets. To grow, they must be able differentiate themselves from their competition. A firm’s brand is one its key assets.
Our Project team was given a clear goal: to create a strong, simple, and competitive brand that would support the firm’s growth strategy.
Importantly, this goal was based on a strong strategic imperative and remained constant throughout the duration. The firm’s leadership has not strayed from its original vision, which has been a boon for all discussions over the past few years.
Project objectives were clearly defined from the beginning, with a clear strategic rationale. The project goal was clear to all stakeholders, which minimized conflict, especially at the portfolio level, with vying projects. This allowed delivery teams to tailor the work accordingly.
Governance is crucial
It is not surprising that effective leadership and governance have been easier with a strong strategic plan.
Many project and program managers have had to manage boards with insufficient seniority for easy decision-making.
A project that is directly related to a strategic goal, however, lends itself to a board of project directors that includes key decision makers and ensures clear reporting through corporate governance structures.
This is especially beneficial for partnership organizations that have multiple business owners. Law firms are often organized to address the challenges of many senior stakeholders.
The project manager must have a strong stakeholder engagement plan to ensure broad acceptance of any business changes.
This is a great example of what it means to rebrand and refresh your strategy. It was not just about colours and logos, but strategic direction, culture and values.
Effective project governance and stakeholder engagement have enabled the firm’s partners to ensure that everyone in the firm can clearly articulate the strategy and brand proposition.
Review and planning
It’s not surprising that project managers would agree that project planning is a key ingredient to project success. Project managers are often asked to move at such a rapid pace in business that there is no time for initial planning, unrealistic time frames and ineffective kick-off phases.
However, when a project is integrated with the firm’s strategic goals, there is more scrutiny, especially when success is linked.