According to Kerzner (2004), strategic planning for project management is the development of a standardized method for project management which can be used severally and produce a high likelihood of achieving a project’s goal. Strategic planning increases and improves the chances for the success of any given project. Strategic planning, according to Kerzner, considers all aspects of a firm from the working relationships of the employers and employees to the various roles played by the project sponsors in ensuring the success of a project. Strategic planning involves the steps of choosing and formulation of the most effective method, implementation, monitoring and control and project success. Effective strategic planning for project management may mean the difference between a successful project and a failed project (Kerzner, 2004).
Kerzner’s strategic planning for project management is relates to the five project management processes (Project Management Institute, 2013). With regards to initiation, the authorization of a project comes after the conduction of a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the business and the project. It is usually done because of the limited resources an organization has. Strategic planning then allows the ranking of the projects based on their benefits and quality of resources that would be used. Strategic planning would allow the careful selection of a project and would also provide a foundation for planning. Planning involves the formulation of the method that would be used in the project to ensure the attainment of the project’s goal. It begins with the definition and explanations of the goals of the project. It is broken down further to the technical baselines, functional and management baseline and the financial baseline. In the plan, specific there is specific work assignment, work breakdown structure, financial costs and expenditures and timelines among others. Execution relates to the putting down of the laid plans into action. This is the implementation stage of the strategic planning method in a bid to achieve the project’s goals. Control involves the carrying out of assessments on the performance of the project with regards to the baselines set out in the plans. It is also the stage that validates the assumptions set out in the strategic plan. The last stage of strategic planning for project management is the success of the project in terms of achievement of the set goals. This relates to close, the last stage of the project management process. The successful implementation of a strategic plan leads to the success of the project.
A project audit helps in the assessment of the current state of a project and tells if the strategic planning process is being followed or not. It provides an opportunity to uncover the various issues, concerns and challenges that may arise in relation to the implementation of the chosen method of project management. The General Motors Powertrain case would be helpful in my analysis of my project audit. The case identifies the baselines that needed to be covered in the project such as timing plans and the various goals expected. In the end it was reported that significant progress had been made but because of the evolution of project management, new goals emerge. This would enable the assessment of the emerging forces in project management such as technology that is making certain processes much easier. It also provides the opportunity to assess the pitfall that were experiences in the implementation of the method and what needs to be done to ensure the attainment of all the goals, including the emerging ones.
Baselines are the approved configuration items in project plans that have been signed off for an execution. A baseline keeps record of the schedule, costs and technical requirements against which the project would be measured (Mehta, 2007). Schedule baseline and Cost baseline are examples of baselines in project management. Schedule baselines are concerned with the amount of time a project is estimated to take and when particular projects would be taking place. Schedule baselines are revised only as a result of any approved changes. Cost baselines, on the other hand, is mainly concerned with the approved amount of money a project is estimated to cost and when in particular that money would be used. Schedule baseline is used to track performance and assess project performance by first entering the commencement, close and the milestone achievement dates for activities in the project schedule. It then assesses the remaining or the amount of time needed to complete the project. Cost baseline, on the other hand, monitors the project cost and determines how much is needed to complete the project based on various approved additions. These project baselines would be used in determining whether the project is being implemented in accordance with the project schedule and whether it is within the estimated total costs of the project (Mehta, 2007).
The Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) such as the Microsoft Project clearly aid in the planning, execution and closing of project management goals. They have made the project management easier and faster, and more efficient. In the keystone simulation project, I used status reports, risk management plans and project portfolio management. Status reports ensured that adjustments were made in accordance with the project baselines, risk management offered alternatives in the event of risks and project portfolio management allowed the proper allocation of resources, money and time. These techniques covered Aaron’s expectations on the project. However, with the adequate support, I would have used the PMIS that would have covered all processes in the project management.
Recommendations for best practice techniques
The critical incident path analysis is one of the methods I would recommend. Construction of a model to conduct the critical incident path requires the listing of all activities that are required to complete the project, the time durations for each activity, dependency between the activities and the end points (milestones) (Kerzner, 2001). The technique calculates the longest path activities would take to their logical conclusions. It then identifies the critical activities, those that would take the longest path, and which when delayed cannot make the project more time. A critical path is the sequence of a projects activity that creates the longest path (take longest time). A case of delay in the activities in this path would lead to a project taking more time than allocated. This technique can be used to identify the shortest path to a conclusion. A network diagram is a flow chart that includes all the project elements and shows the relationships between them. It enables the determination of a project’s path, sequence of activities to be completed, relationships between activities, dependency between activities and also shows activities that can be done simultaneously. This method allows project monitoring through establishing of milestone, benchmarks and project deliverables. It also allows the making of adjustments during completion of tasks (Kerzner, 2001).
Status reports also offer excellent techniques of monitoring and control. This is simply because they allow communication between project staff and stakeholders on the various baseline measures (schedule, cost and technical). They allow the making of the necessary and timely adjustments based on changes in activities of the project. Time management strategies such as the schedule baseline allow the monitoring of the project from its conception to the end and allowing the making of adjustments. This strategy ensures that each activity takes the time it was allocated to avoid dragging of the whole project.
Risk analysis offers an excellent method of determining when and how to take a corrective action. Carrying out a risk analysis ensures that alternative strategies are in place to ensure progress of the project in the event of a risk. They are used as precautionary measures. Lastly, a project management portfolio is a best practice technique that would determine when and how to escalate issue. This is because it allows the combination of proposed and existing investment of an organization to properly assess the allocation of money, time and other resources (Kerzner, 2001).
Kerzner, H. (2004). Advanced project management: Best practices on implementation, (2nd ed.) Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN: 9780471472841.
Kerzner, H. (2001). Project management: A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. New York: John Wiley.
Mehta, R. C. (2007). Project management. Jaipur: Aavishkar Publishers.
Project Management Institute. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, 5th edition. Newtown Square. PA. 2013.