Skip to main content

Author: David Barrett

The Strategic Link

Sponsored Article

You have been a project manager of some sort now for 10+ years. You are now a Program Director, a Director of a PMO, a senior project manager, a project executive, a business architect or any similar position and you are asking yourself, what’s next?

How do we stand up and get recognized? How do we show added value to the position? What should we start looking at on the next horizon?

The answer to that lies in one word: strategy. In a nutshell, as senior managers or senior project resources, we need to understand strategic planning, strategic management and how this all fits into the part of the business we are involved in.

This is called the ‘Strategic Link.’

Today’s most successful organizations, divisions and/or departments have a solid strategic plan and a good process to follow that plan. Here is the catch: in so many incidents that strategic plan points directly at our projects. As senior project resources, we need to recognize that ‘strategic link,’ embrace it, jump on the bandwagon and help strengthen that link.

Someone from a large bank recently told me, “…the strategic plan is established at a much more senior level. I will never be involved.” Regardless of where the master plan is created, it is your job to find out what the plan is, who created it and how it is managed. Discover how your work fits into that plan. Add value to your position by connecting the dots … linking the work you do to the projects you work on. If you can’t make the link … maybe you should ask why not.

While you may not be involved in the overall corporate strategic plan, you can create your own department plan — you do not need permission. This is just good common business sense.
The Canadian Leadership Summit on Strategy and Execution ( will be held in Toronto on Dec 3rd at the Harbour Castle Hotel. This event is designed to bring the world of Strategic Planning and Execution closer to our projects and closer to our careers. It is a day of learning and networking with our peers, but more importantly, learning and networking with some of our leading corporate executives in charge of strategic planning.

Whether it is through this unique conference or any other way, it is time we find the link between the work we do and the strategic plan we are all working under.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.

If I Were to Create a Project Office

David Barrett’s Monthly Blog

I met someone the other day who was asked to roll out a PMO at a large financial institution. I was really impressed with her story.

The interesting part was not what she created but how she created it.

  1. She spent four months touring the project management teams and interviewing PMs across the whole company. She asked them what they wanted. Important to note that she did this before step two. She made no promises but just collected information.
  2. She then went to her sponsor – the executive that gave her the task. No reporting on the results of step one yet – just the same kind of questions: what do YOU want and how should it work?
  3. She asked for a commitment – from her executive sponsor – for the financial support, the long term commitment to the project and, most importantly, for the authority to do what she was going to do.

I often tell people that there are currently 2,436 different ways to create a project office. Honestly. I counted! Truthfully, the result isn’t the important issue for me today as I write this piece – but the process is. I have seen many project offices open and close because no one was asked what they wanted. Like many of our projects, we are too often handed the budget, the timeframe and the specs, and told to build it.

What we really need here is a business analyst – or we need to talk and walk like a BA before we go anywhere near building the project office. This is what my friend did. She got in front of the customers, the users and the sponsors and didn’t move until she knew full well what everyone wanted.

There would be no guarantee that she was going to make everyone happy. But she certainly knew everyone’s expectations.

Some day I am going to write a book on all the PMOs out there.

is publisher of Project Times, Conference Director, ProjectWorld and BusinessAnalystWorld, and Program Director of The Masters Certificate in Project Management, Schulich Executive Education Centre.



David Barrett