Plans that guide the desired projections of organisations both in the short and long-term run constitute strategy. The set plan that aims at achieving business, operational and corporate goals requires skilful business forecasting and benchmarking.
Strategy entails reviewing and selecting a set of choices instead of designing a fixed plan (Porter 1996). Organisations set out strategies that synthesise and elaborate how they intend to achieve their goals in order to realise maximum returns on their investments.
Strategy encompasses the management, planning, and evaluation aspects. Under strategic management, formulation, implementation, and evaluation of cross-functional decisions that aid goal achievement for an organisation occurs.
From the definition, it is evident that strategy is a continuous process that outlines missions and visions of firms, and resource allocation that intends to help in meeting specific objectives (Collis & Rukstad 2008).
In all these processes, organisations are aiming at keeping themselves ahead of their competitors through consistent analysis, creation, implementation, and monitoring of decisive plans.
The planning process in strategic management integrates all the useful components of an organisation by facilitating communication between administrators of all ranks (Bettis et al. 2012).
Strategy helps individuals and companies to make prudent decisions on all initiatives they undertake within the constantly changing environment in order to gain outcomes in the most expedient way possible.
Managers, therefore, must understand how to make the plans and targets sustainable to create competitive advantage in the market. The entire process calls for creativity as a way of creating unique, valuable, and difficult-to-copy competitive advantages.
In this aspect, competitive advantage is not about operational effectiveness, which involves executing similar services far much, beyond what the rivals do (Guinn 2013).
It entails executing similar services in different ways from the competitors or executing different services from those of the competitors.
Outsourcing, benchmarking, and business process engineering are some of the recent innovations within the management field that businesses have applied in the activities.
Outperformance among companies arises from the way they design, implement, and monitor their strategies. For that reason, competitive advantages must be sustainable for a long period.
In understanding strategy, managers advance their awareness of both the internal and external environment of the organisations in line with the analysis of vision, mission, and strategic objectives (Goldman 2012).
Project managers in making strategic decisions, come to understand the industries they intend to compete in and the modalities they need to employ in the process of competition.
In the last phase, project managers comprehend the actions that they need to pursue in order to put decisions into proper use. Strategy implementation remains a key process in allocating resources and designing of firms to bring forth the reality of the strategies.
Besides, project managers who understand strategic management, planning, and evaluation develop high spirit and commitment for achieving the firm’s objectives, as they become more proactive than reactive in handling issues that require tactful decision-making process.
In project management, one has to understand the external and internal environmental elements (Lee-Kelley & Sankey 2008) that can affect the completion of a project under budget. The process helps in identifying clear advantages, which are vital in being successful.
Strategy determination also follows the same procedure. Managers must analyse the context and environment in which they are operating, identify strategic alternatives, and select the best options after in-depth evaluation.
According to Mengel & Thomas (2008), project managers must apply strategy in understanding themselves fully and the environment in which they intend to operate.
In this phase of organisation analysis, a SWOT analysis is helpful in examining the capabilities, resources, strengths, liabilities and weaknesses, hence assisting in achieving objectives and gaining distinct position from the competitors.
On the other hand, environmental analysis helps project managers in understanding the current market dynamics and they use the information to predict future market situations (Bredillet 2008).
In addition, project managers are able to know where they have strong position within the expansive environment and where they may have challenges.
Clearly, understanding strategy is a vital pillar for project managers, as they have to align their projects with the alterations in their operating environment. Deliberate planning and actions that create successful conditions forms the core base of project management.
Project managers have to use strategy in working smarter on projects to meet and solve challenges that may come their way (Kaplan & Norton 2008).
Strategy helps managers in forecasting for the unpredictable through continuous training and development of new talents to work on new projects that come up.
Studying the operational environment helps project managers to be able to prove the value-adding component of the projects.
Contractors use problem-solving approach in handling pertinent issues in order to achieve strategic goals and gain competitive edge.
Besides, brainstorming, star-bursting, and reverse brainstorming are applicable in identifying strategic options that help in developing competitive advantage (Calfee 2006).
For instance, a firm experiencing poor customer relations needs to brainstorm on strategies that will make the firm register high customer satisfaction. At the evaluation phase, project managers must have arrived at the best project among the varied range of projects.
Evaluation and selection of strategic options helps in considering all identified options, their possible negative effects, and benefits. In this stage, risk analysis, impact analysis, and failure mode and effects analysis are applicable in assessing the options available.
Proper exploration is necessary for the success of projects through development of strategies. After vivid appraisal, one has to choose on the best strategic options that will ensure that resources are largely spread to offer operational outcome.
Mission, vision, and values of an organisation guide the process of selecting the best options, as they enhance consistency at all stages of strategy development.
Consistency with the core functions of an organisation during strategic planning and management contributes to the development and growth of organisation’s total resolution (Blatstein 2012).
Strategy development is essential for project managers since the process is not only applicable to development projects, but also to personal circumstances.
Strategy is an inclusive process that can significantly assist project managers in their roles of handling difficult and complex situations like coordinating many varied people, completing several tasks in orderly sequences, and spending lots of time and money in operating projects.
The success or failure on project management depends on the way one lays out strategies, that is, initial stages of strategy development affect the outcome of an entire project.
Strategy helps project managers to monitor the actual completion dates against the dates of completion as per the plan in order to enable them take corrective measures and address clients’ expectations appropriately.
The communication process aids project milestone reporting which informs of the progress of a project by elaborating on how far a project has develop and future expectations from a specified point.
In this report, one is able to know what they have achieved and the necessary requirements to ensure successful completion of the project. According to Blatstein (2012), monitoring of projects through milestone reporting relies on the strategic plans.
In large and complex projects that have many interdependencies, project milestone reporting helps in simplifying the projects’ status in precise and meaningful way.
Clearly, strategy acts as a guide for project managers in comprehending the progress and new expectations of projects that they undertake. In preparing project milestone reports, managers use the projections or targets outlined in the strategic plans.
Program managers also find strategy useful in their activities as it acts as a project schedule (Raspin & Terjesen 2007). Strategy, just as schedule, will specify the sequence of development tasks, signifying that it is an essential part in project management.
Since implementation of strategies transforms visions to comprehensible outcomes, schedules offer basis for monitoring and controlling project accomplishments, offer foundation for tracking the progress of a project, and assist in assessing how time delays can affect a project.
Scheduling of projects uses strategy to combine inputs and align necessary resources with the exact timing of each activity.
As Porter (1996) asserts, strategy will be helpful to a program manager in resource levelling, as he/she will be able to streamline the timing of activities so that all activities receive adequate resources.
Moreover, strategies always prepare for impact of risks in their provisions; this is a plus to a program manager who can add extra time in risky events.
Strategy flexibility enables project managers to adapt to the fluctuating needs of the environment, which can emanate from the project team or the project itself.
Project managers as planners, executors, controllers, and supervisors of projects have to employ strategy in coming up with a workable work plan that enhances the success of the project.
In addition, project managers have to develop and manage the direction that different projects take, and even plan, define and manage the scope of such tasks. Clearly, in all these undertakings, strategy plays critical roles to the manager.
Careful planning by Aalto University in Finland has demonstrated the significant role of strategy in project management. In one of the research projects, the School of Economics studied the system of contactless ticketing.
In the ticketing process, a group of students also analysed the value chain and interest groups across Europe. In the project, the student had to define the project and its goals as ways of managing the guidance and co-ordination process.
The researchers had to make right choices in the project management, and, in the end, they obtained the desired results.
A well-outlined strategy for the Nokia Ventures Organisation made the project to achieve its goals of bolstering sales, increasing sales through reorganisation of resources and strategic positioning.
NFC Solutions Head of Operations, Sirpa Nordlund, admitted that the study acted as a revelation to them, and helped to meet what they had suspected all along.
Moreover, she recommended the idea as extremely prominent, and went on to reiterate that many firms have expertise thinking and brainstorming on such strategies to solve similar problems.
The Hickory Ridge Landfill Solar System in Atlanta is another project that elaborates the significance of strategy to project managers.
With the objective of creating an alternative to traditional landfill covers, enhancing the use of renewable energy, and obsolete lands, the project had to receive unrelenting initiation, planning, supervision and evaluation.
In developing the technology, HDR Engineering Inc. ensured that the project had to offer similar energy to people, but in a different way from the eco-friendly sources.
At Hickory Ridge, the initial phase cost around $5 million, and is currently the world’s biggest solar cap, generating one megawatt of electricity. This amount of electricity is capable of offsetting the total energy that the landfill uses or power over 200 households.
Through effective planning and resource allocation, the Senior Project Manager, Mark Roberts, identified that much of the funds had to be directed to the initial stage of the project to purchase and install the solar panels.
Project management aims at managing costs and the budget; therefore, one need comprehend the areas that funds get used in the project to avert instances of failure and unprofitability. A cost-benefit analysis revealed that the project brought great value to the locals and the world as a whole.
For the success of the project, HDR Engineering Inc. had set clear strategic positions and themes that linked each other in a close loop.
Age NI is another organisation that commenced a project in February 2010 to determine the feasibility of using a shared governance approach to make decisions and prepare Age NI’s first Strategic Plan.
The Chief Executive took the roles of a project manager, and from the beginning accepted the need for strategic plan in order to direct the project in meeting the goals and objectives of the organisation as stipulated in the mission and vision (Müllera & Turner 2010).
The strategy helped in understanding the scope of the research project by allowing strategic intentions to create the margins of the work. The project relied on strategic plans in drawing success criteria and guidelines that direct and measure the success of the project.
In risk management, the project identified a facilitator who ensured that information flow to all departments and shareholders was uncompromised (Nag, Hambrick & Chen 2007).
The group admitted that risks are unavoidable in all projects, and directed evaluation tools to identify zones that have high potential risks so that future project managers can apply preventive measures in time.
Risk mitigation is a strategic option that the group considered throughout the entire research. Designing of strategy helped the group in understanding how collective shared governance affects decision-making processes.
When the Board of Directors of 1st Farm Credit Services decided to improve its governance structures in order to create shareholder value and obtain sustainable competitive advantage, the association relied on strategic management to provide directions, which could provide long-term values to clients and owners.
The group laid a strategy of enhancing individual director performance and alterations of board operations (Davies 2000).
Univest, on the other hand, applied strategic project vision in identifying, monitoring, managing, implementing, and evaluating a credit risk portfolio that could help the community banking industry to manage risks.
In the entire process, Univest coordinated all the services through a project manager who highly depended on strategic plans to ensure successful implementation of the project.
The firm intended to save on costs, employ smoother risk mitigation procedures, and register reduced loss potential in order to transition employee focus and organisation’s commitment.
Strategy is essential in project management as it guides the entire process in achieving its intentions.
Organisations that have engaged in several projects have acknowledged the need for strategic management, planning, and evaluation in regaining confidence in a crowded market. Project managers who understand and inculcate strategy in their activities attain their targets in time.
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