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Author: Paul Oppong

Paul Oppong is a management, strategy, and business transformation consultant, specializing in digital transformation and program management. He helps clients navigate the ever-changing landscape of business Technology, using his expertise to deliver evidence-based solutions that exceed their performance expectations. Paul Oppong has a global outlook and has assisted organizations in both the public and private sectors, including some of Africa’s largest financial institutions and Australian government agencies, in realizing the benefits of their transformational investments through project and portfolio management. For more information visit

Project Strategy the Missing Link in your Corporate Strategy

The way that projects are managed and executed has a direct relationship to organisational success

because everything that people do in a business should be linked back to its strategy. A strategy is a plan of action that allows a long-term goal to be achieved. If you think about it, if a project fails, then this costs the organisation time and money. The organisation will not achieve its short-term goals, and this will prevent it from achieving its longer-term goals – or it will at least slow it up. When you consider this, it makes sense that projects are managed according to a strategy, and that this strategy is aligned with the corporate strategy. This means that project strategy is a very important consideration for most companies. Here we will consider the relationship between the project strategy and the corporate strategy and portfolio and program management.

How the Corporate Strategy Impacts on the Project Strategy

The project or program strategy will be informed by the corporate strategy. This allows the business to implement its overall strategy. Since strategies are usually developed at the upper echelons of the organisation, these will cascade down to lower levels, to be managed and delivered through portfolios, programs and projects. This occurs in a hierarchical and systematic manner. When It is done well, there will be cohesion, visibility and an effective means of communication. Communication is key, since without it there may be difficulties for the project team in understanding what they are doing and why. Without this, there can be project management failure.

Within a solid framework and with good communication, project strategy can be managed dynamically. But what is the project strategy? In most cases, the project strategy typically refers to all aspects of the project lifecycle. Usually, clear review points are decided on to make sure that the project is being well managed. If it is not, then optimisation can occur, as the project strategy continues to develop.

When the organisation’s senior management team devise the corporate strategy, they decide what they are going to do, and how they are going to go about it. Running projects is often a major component of how they are going to go about delivering the strategy. It is all very well having a finely-polished mission statement presented on the company website, and a thorough five-year plan documented, but without action, nothing happens. As noted earlier, the word strategy means having a plan of action. Putting aside the five-year plan and failing to take any action will usually mean that the strategy is not delivered, and long-term goals do not get met. Steps must be taken to ensure that processes are in place to deliver projects and achieve goals. This requires that a number of activities occur. First, it must be decided what projects will be likely to be needed to deliver the strategy. There will usually be various projects needed, but not sufficient resource to complete all of them at the same time. Resources are precious. The senior management team must communicate the priorities and assign resources to these.

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A clear direction must be provided by the senior management, and a business owner is assigned to ensure that the project stays on track to help the business achieve its strategy through the project strategy employed. The Project Management team will then report to this business owner. The project or program manager thus has a critical role in impacting strategy delivery and achieving organisational goals. If the PMO runs the project efficiently and effectively, with good communication throughout then there is a greater chance of the strategy being achieved, and long-term results being delivered.

Project management is usually a core process within the overall business enterprise model. Programs and projects allow the organisation to effect change in a managed and controlled way. It is worth noting that in many cases, companies consider that program management implies the management of business benefits, as well as the idea of product or brand. This distinguishes it somewhat from project management.

How Project Management Tools and Principles Help Advance Business Strategy

Project management tools and principles are important in effectively advancing business strategy. This is because they help the people working on the project to stay on track and aligned with the overall vision. As part of the project strategy, projects must be properly defined, with a clear scope and related to corporate goals and strategies. From there, Gantt charts and other project tools help track who needs to be doing what and when, so that milestones can be delivered in a timely manner. Controlling changes to the project is also important to keep it on target. If senior management requires a major change in scope at the last minute, a change control process helps because it assesses what the impact of the change will be in terms of time and cost. This can then be communicated effectively back up the hierarchy so a decision can be made regarding what is most important – delivering on time and to budget or including this change. This helps with effective strategic decision making. Portfolio management is often of fundamental importance for project and program prioritisation, as well as for resource allocation.

It is also important to realise that value management is a key aspect of project strategy. Value management works to ensure that value is being created through undertaking the project. Meanwhile, risk management is also deployed to ensure that all risks to the project strategy (and consequently the overall corporate strategy) are identified, assessed, understood and mitigated. With continuous review and change it is possible to ensure that the project strategy works to deliver the most value possible, with risks well managed.


In short, if a project is to be successful, it will be run according to a project strategy that is clearly aligned with the overall corporate strategy. These links will be communicated and understood, and the organisation will have checks and balances in place to ensure the project is managed such that it can deliver.

Business Agility: How can Project Management Practice and the PMO Adapt to Uncertain Times

The only certainty in today’s fast moving and globalised world, is that businesses can expect uncertainty.

Change is on the increase and coming in hard and fast from a variety of directions. A term that is used to describe the environment we are experiencing is VUCA. This stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. It is harder than ever before to plan for what might happen next, as curved balls sweep in from the side and unexpectedly complicate matters. Organisations have to adapt quickly to survive. But what do they need to do? Is the PMO impacted, and if so, how can it adapt to best support the business?

How Organisations Need to Adapt

Faced with a business landscape of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, organisations need to reorient themselves. New threats that were unlikely to have been conceived of in the past are being introduced with some regularity. Businesses that operate on an old fashioned model will be unlikely to be able to respond sufficiently and rapidly to the intensity of the threats faced. Instead of acting like the bureaucratic, slow moving machine of the past, organisations must become nimbler and ready to react quickly to change. Doing so will give them a much greater chance of surviving the array of ever-changing challenges faced.

The ways in which organisations must adapt are manifold. These include looking for opportunities to minimise waste, reduce handovers, increase transparency, empower people, and of course, to cut out needless bureaucracy. This is likely to require cultural change in some cases, so that people can adjust effectively to the new “way things work around here” for them. The organisation will best retain its relevance in the market by optimising its operating models. This will be likely to involve restructuring, introducing new frameworks, tools, processes, roles and responsibilities. Team members must also redefine themselves, as teams change and adapt to help the organisation do what it needs to, in order to adjust and survive. Teams from software development to HR to Finance to Marketing must all change across the entire value stream, right up to the CXO office.

How is project management practice and the PMO affected?

Just as every other team in the organisation is affected, so too is the PMO. Perhaps the PMO is hit the hardest in some ways, as it works on projects for all other areas of the business. Projects must be delivered faster, and priorities are constantly changing, as the organisation identifies the best way to adapt to the shape of the business environment. Where in the past there might have been a five year plan, with the PMO knowing way in advance what it would be working on in future months, there is likely to be much less certainty now. This clearly has significant ramifications for project management practice, since activities like planning, project management itself and managing project change all must be performed faster and more efficiently than in the past.

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How can the PMO adapt?

The PMO needs to adapt so that it can offer versatility to the business in the face of these fast changing times. In the first instance, the PMO and all team members within will need to develop a passion for change. The culture of the team needs to be one of embracing change and positivity towards the volatility faced. After all, it does offer tremendous opportunity to be involved in some very exciting projects, in a fast-moving environment. Helping the team members to see the opportunities, rather than grumbling about the speed of change will make all the difference as the PMO works to adapt to better support the organisation.

Another helpful approach for those PMOs not already using it is to bring in Agile project management. This helps the organisation to reduce the planning time needed and to move faster to deliver projects. It is quite significantly different from the Waterfall methodology of the past. Agile project management works in iterations, or short development cycles. Each iteration is considered by the project team and the key project stakeholders, such as the business owner. Once the review is carried out, the next stages of the project are determined. This allows the project management team to respond quickly to issues as they arise. While this may make you worried about change management, actually putting in place the right change at the right time saves money and the agile approach is much better for helping projects to stay on time and to budget.

This aside, leadership in the PMO needs to get the team onboard to look at everything they do and assess its purpose in the brave new world. Ask the tough questions: Why are we doing this? Do we still need to? Can we drop it? In many cases, processes develop over time, and sometimes it can get to the point where no one even really knows why something is being done any more. Sometimes these types of processes and activities can be dropped. Do your due diligence to make sure there will not be any damage caused, and then cut these tasks to focus on what must be done instead. If it genuinely is not needed, then dump it, fast. You simply will not have time for it in the future.


To survive and thrive in a business environment that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, organisations must adapt, and fast. Gone are five year plans and the bureaucracy of the past, and every single business function is impacted. Teams must move faster and prioritise more effectively. For the PMO this means adapting how projects are delivered, to ensure that this is as efficient as possible and that continual change can be responded to very rapidly. It requires a long hard look at what team members do and dropping what is no longer necessary. It also means taking on board an agile mindset and a passion for change.