Your strategy for the year is set – now you have to deliver on your commitments. Research has shown that nearly one in five businesses doesn’t have the capability to implement their strategic initiatives effectively. Only 18% of companies are highly effective at managing the change required to deliver strategy, and another 18% are minimally effective. The rest fall somewhere in the middle.
Having spent time designing and developing your corporate strategy, you don’t want to be one of those organizations that can’t get results. Successful strategy implementation is important for gaining an advantage over competitors, cost reduction, and a host of other things that help move your company forward through the year.
Give yourself the best chance of success by creating the right environment for effective strategy implementation by making sure these three pre-requisites are in place.
Leadership starts with you. There might be leaders above you who will also be influential. Your team managers should also be leaders in their own right. Good leadership helps teams understand the corporate strategy and vision and gives them the tools they need to be productive.
Leading isn’t just about telling people about your strategy and walking away. You have to sustain the interest generated through the strategy-setting exercise by constant reinforcement. You also have to give people space to deliver on your plans: if they are hampered by operational issues and reactive management they won’t have the capacity to work on anything strategic. An organization of firefighters won’t achieve the delivery of your strategic goals simply because they don’t have the time to make a start.
As a leader, you can resolve that through adequate resourcing and dealing with operational problems alongside championing strategic delivery. A leader helps the team to grow by being people cantered and setting the tone for the business. A culture that allows employees to take calculated risks and recognizes the challenges of virtual working and distributed teams will support the delivery of your strategy.
Project, Program, and Portfolio Management
You need the framework to deliver change. Strong project, program, and portfolio management (which you’ll often see shortened to PPM) practices will ensure that your teams have the processes required to implement strategic initiatives. PPM approaches enable you to take that strategic vision and break it down into manageable chunks, order the work effectively, manage dependencies between different deliverables and monitor progress until the objectives are complete.
A large part of effective PPM is communication. Whether you have a separate team to do this and own the PPM processes is up to you, but many businesses do opt for this model: a Program Management Office (PMO) supports strategic delivery through managing the day-to-day overheads of having multiple projects happening at the same time.
Individual projects that are aligned to delivering your strategic goals should be measured (more on that in a moment) and the PMO can also manage this for you.
Finally, consider program and portfolio management tools as a way to help you manage the business as usual work – the tasks that need to happen on an ongoing basis around any strategic delivery.
With a vision set, strong executive leadership, and the processes in place to turn ideas into action, the final piece of your strategic delivery plan is managing performance. As a leader, you’ll want to be able to track how you are doing against the implementation of your strategic objectives. Performance management helps you answer the following questions:
- Are you on track to deliver your strategic initiatives?
- Where should you be directing your resources?
- Which teams or projects need more support?
- Which objectives are at risk?
- What should we do to correct the course of initiatives that aren’t progressing to plan?
These are high-level questions addressed at your entire corporate strategic vision and give you the decision-support information you’ll need to help your teams move forward with implementing initiatives.
You’ll also want to measure the performance against targets on a more granular level, by each project. Consider metrics like:
- Performance against schedule baseline
- Performance against budget
- Performance against quality targets
- Team engagement
- Customer satisfaction
- Number of open risks and issues with a status of ‘Highly Significant’
These will help you decide whether the project is on track and will enable course correction if it’s not. Tracking at a project level will give you an early warning sign: all this data feeds up to give you a strategic portfolio view at a corporate level. In turn, this addresses the question of how close you are to achieving your strategic objectives.
By adopting strong leadership, robust PPM methods, and a solid approach to performance management you’ll create the environment necessary for delivering your strategy. Do you have any other tips? Share them in the comments below.
About the author
Elizabeth Harrin is the author and award-winning blogger behind A Girl’s Guide To Project Management. Get her suggestions for being more productive at work on her blog.