Step 5 – Projects
Projects and Actions
Activities that come as a result of a strategic planning process usually take two forms – remedial activity or actions (things that fix a problem) and strategic projects (to promote change).
Remedial activities are sometimes called ‘quick-wins’. They are low cost actions that might have a big impact. needless-to-say, executives love quick-wins.
Strategic projects tend to be longer-term activities. They are initiatives that cause change and have a significant impact. Even with all your objectives, KPI’s and targets, in place, they are not going to make a difference unless there are some projects in place to drive change.
Creating your projects should be relatively easy – at this point you have created the foundation and improvements that are the basis of your strategy. That is; vision, purpose, priorities, objectives, measures and targets. During this process you will have been thinking about how to make change happen, even if it has only been in your sub-conscious. So write out the list. Believe me, once you start, you will not be able to stop. That’s fine at this stage, the more the better. It may be that you describe a couple of quick wins or identify a golden nugget or two. Don’t be overly descriptive, but this requires more than labels or post-it notes.
Next comes selection, there are a multitude of selection methods you could use, for example; simple voting, Boston matrix, paired comparison. We favour a scored selection criteria based matrix. It has the advantage of being much more impartial than other methods.
Develop a set of selection criteria – things such as Implementation Cost, Operational Cost and Strategic Benefit. These will help you determine what is most important and therefore automatically prioritise your initiatives, solve any funding issues, and create an engine that drives your strategy forward.
Once you have prioritised down to a small number of projects, get your project manager involved to scope out the detail. All projects should be managed properly using a formal project management process.