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Strategic Project Management helps clients achieve long-term objectives

Associated Engineering is well known for its program management and project management skills. In our ongoing effort to train and improve on our capabilities, we provide in-house tier 1 and tier 2 project management training, and encourage staff to pursue higher levels of training. Project management skills are important to help deliver projects for our clients; however, at times, we need to look beyond typical project management.

Beyond Project Management

Project management works well if the project scope is well defined and allows us to use formal procedures and tools like earned value and scheduling to deliver a project. At times, there is a need to think beyond financial performance, project deliverables, resource planning, and scheduling. There is a need to deliver not just a project or a program, but to deliver an end result.

Associated Engineering has the necessary skills to provide a “big picture view” that is far more beneficial to our clients, organizations, and society. That service is “Strategic Project Management”.

What is Strategic Project Management? It is the ability to focus on the big picture; the ability to look beyond the project itself to see how it may fit or integrate into a larger, more complex result. Some may interpret this as program management, where we try to link the project-specific needs to strategic needs, but it is more than that. Strategic Project Management provides a level of leadership that addresses the intangibles, to achieve a more sustainable result for our clients and society.

Strategic Project Management

The key to Strategic Project Management is the ability of our project managers to work closely with the client project manager and other stakeholders and look beyond the immediate needs of the project towards the end result and determine the real goals or vision of the project.

To obtain value by using Strategic Project Management, one needs to manage the project, not just the budget. The value is obtained by looking beyond the measures of project performance or outcomes. Focusing on cost or schedule is important, but the true value is measured by long-term client satisfaction and the delivery of a sustainable project.

An important aspect of Strategic Project Management is helping to deliver on our client’s strategy, goals, and objectives. These goals and objectives are long-term focused - they consider the client and public satisfaction with the end results and achieve a sustainable outcome.

Individual projects are pieces of the puzzle that fit into the big picture. Strategic Project Management focuses more on qualitative techniques versus quantitative techniques. It is important to realize that Strategic Project Management is not applicable for all projects; however, each project is a piece of the puzzle towards achieving the strategy, goal, and objectives of the client. Being aware ensures that we consider the big picture in whatever we do.

This approach requires a shift in attitude, including how our clients view their projects. We as a society need to consider the sustainable benefits, not just business benefits of a project or program. An example of how Strategic Project Management can work is a new bridge in a city. We consider how the bridge fits into a city’s long term strategies, goals, and objectives, so that we can deliver maximum benefit to society and achieve sustainable results.

The purpose may be to build a bridge, (or light rail transit, or reclaim harbour lands), but the real goal and strategy may be to build a multi modal transportation network for the city to achieve long-term economic growth as well as support population growth in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Each project is part of a much bigger-picture, building a city that serves society, and meets the region’s vision for sustainability. Our challenge is for our Project Managers to partner with out client’s team and start thinking in terms of Strategic Project Management, taking a big-picture view of the long-term objectives and goals of a project with the ultimate vision in mind.

About the Author:

Herb Kuehne, MBA, P.Eng., has over 30 years of experience in the consulting engineering industry, as a Project Manager and Infrastructure Specialist. In these roles, Herb has assisted clients to develop community and neighbourhood plans, and deliver a wide range of infrastructure projects including roads, highways, bridges, water supply, stormwater management, and wastewater management systems. Herb’s approach is to work with municipalities and stakeholders to meet the long-term goals and vision of the communities in which we work.