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Optimizing Project Delivery Strategy

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One element missing in much of the discussion around project management is a focus on the key early decisions that determine the project delivery strategy.  

At the project level, strategic decision-making focuses on optimizing the way the project will be structured and managed. Choosing between using Agile or Waterfall, pre-fabrication or on-site assembly, won't change the required project deliverables but will have a major influence on how the project is delivered and its likely success.

One size does not fit all; simply following previous choices ignores opportunities to enhance the overall probability of the project meeting or exceeding its stakeholders expectations.

Some of the key steps in designing a strategy for success include:

•    Familiarization with the overall requirements of the project and its stakeholders
•    Determining the key elements of value and success for the project
•    Outlining the delivery methodology and getting approval from key stakeholders
•    Developing the project's strategic plan based on the available know-how, resources and risk appetite of the stakeholders (including the project management team)

The problem with implementing this critical stage of the overall project delivery lifecycle is that it crosses between the project initiators and the project delivery team. Both parties need to be involved in developing a project delivery strategy that optimizes the opportunity for a successful outcome.

Unfortunately, the opportunities to engage in discussion and planning for project delivery are difficult to arrange. Frequently contract documents effectively prescribe a delivery process, and/or the client and senior management don't know they need to be engaged at this stage of the project lifecycle.

I suggest that project managers and project management offices start focusing more on the project delivery strategy during critical early stages of a project. What has worked or not worked on your projects?


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Great post. My approach to strategic change management says the quality of the first five percent determines what happens in the rest of the process. This same principle applies to many situations.

I'm with both of you on this. Developing a set of success metrics that tie business value and requirements to project milestones and deliverables is key to setting the state for success. Tracking project value is about communicating results in such a way that stakeholders and project teams alike understand where you are headed and where you have been.

Nice thoughts, Lynda. The key for me and the agile teams that I coach is to have a business value metric. This is often not an absolute number like dollars saved, but that does happen. Rather it is a relative number. Feature A delivers more business value than feature B, assign numbers to them and track it.

Then the "cost" side, how ever your organization does it, can have real meaning combined withe business value to create a relative ROI.

The last step is to track and report to the team and business the progress of business value delivery.

Rod Claar

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