There are two ways to think about solving project issues: Tactical and Strategic.

Good project managers have an awareness of how a project needs to develop to succeed. When development progression falters for any reason, they find the problem and fix it, if they can, or escalate it to their project director if they can’t. The working contexts are the project team, client, budget and schedule. It’s a tactical approach.

Strategic project management is fundamentally different. It is whole-of-practice focused. Success is not defined at the project, or even client, level, but on how particular project outcomes impact the whole business. The working context includes the tactical focus, but is governed by the firm’s strategic plan and global objectives: risk in particular.

PSMJ’s approach is to facilitate development of this strategic way of thinking in our learning program for Project Directors. In this model, Project Directors are the leaders in interpreting the firm’s Strategic Plan into the more tactical role of project managers, and in doing so, ensuring that those project managerss will enable and execute the overall Strategic Plan.

There are many strategic management models. Here’s a simplified version:

  1. Understanding the organization’s current strategic direction
  2. Formulating and executing project action plans based on this direction
  3. Evaluating if these actions are succeeding
  4. Or, if not, making changes to achieve strategic plan alignment

These steps form a reference framework – mental model –  for top-notch Project Directors. They are not specific activities, but rather are a lens through which Project Directors consider and advise on project issues that arise.

Together, they form one module of the Strategic Project Management for Project Directors program. Other modules include:

  • Coaching & mentoring
  • Strategic risk management
  • The 10-step Client Relationship cycle
  • The power of good work breakdown structures
  • Controlling write-downs & write-offs
  • Resource balancing
  • Project manager skills assessment

PSMJ’s perspective is that one of the key considerations in elevating a project manager to project director status is their demonstrated ability to implement a strategic approach to managing projects.

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