Wednesday, August 30, 2017

PMP Success Story: What Does It Take To Be A PMP?

By Chaitanya Rao Araveti, PMP




Introduction
Curiosity can open doors to much relishing opportunities. It was a year back where I got this chance to go through the topics in PMP® that eventually made me take the much-coveted certification.

I thought I couldn’t do it with the kind of schedule we live in and the very thought of spending time on learning something for an exam was a no-no. However, as the saying goes, if you have the will and the grit, nothing is impossible.

Why PMP? 
It makes you stand apart from the crowd! The benefit of doing this certification is both tangible and intangible. You immediately fall in the zone of sure pay rise and the long-term value of being recognized worldwide in this global workspace.


PMP Coaching Experience
I did my thorough research, called a dozen of institutions. Went through the profiles of instructors from different training centers!  Out of all, Satya’s profile snapshot was the one that caught my attention. It was a perfect balance of both knowledge and industry experience. Other’s might have had knowledge but lacked credible industry experience.

The 35 hours of Satya’s class was like a treasure trove of knowledge. It was intense in experience and rich in knowledge. Sometimes, things did go above my absorption bandwidth, but he does take questions irrespective of the time and makes sure the concept is clearly understood by everyone.

The training was concise and precise and to the point. The approach is mainly exam oriented and in line with the PMBOK® guide, so sometimes you had to go against your known understanding of project management. For me, I understood the concepts very well and the training became a base for me to start my preparation for the exam. 

You should watch out for his “Tips” as they come in very handy while studying. Make a note of it. With this training, I had a structured view of PMP and could connect the dots between processes with less effort. 

My advice to fellow applicants is to pay attention to Satya’s class. Each word and sentence what he says carry value. I understood this when I was doing a self-study, where I recollected a lot what Satya taught us in the 4-day training program.

Own Study
Every hour spent is accounted and valuable. So, I started keeping time for the study.

For the return on investment, you should know the effort that you have spent, so I kept a tab on the time I spent in hours. I started with Head First PMP’s book, and skimmed through Rita’s book, especially questions at the end of chapters and read the PMBOK Guide thoroughly. 

Why PMBOK is a Must Read?
Some of the questions were a direct reference to PMBOK, including the verbiage used. Most of the question refer the PMBOK and you can easily relate to the question if you have read the PMBOK. 

Do not miss the ‘Glossary’ in PMBOK guide. It is like a refresher of the terms and definitions that you have learned in PMBOK. (MUST). Read through each chapter in the PMBOK guide, in detail and take notes with the information and understanding.

As a reference and guide, ManagementYogi blog came in very handy as the most difficult topics are explained in a structured and convenient way for us to understand. 

Time Spent
Overall, I spent around 140 hours reading the PMBOK Guide and reference books. My duration was around 3 months.

What can you do extra?
  1. Took printout and pasted all the processes, formulas and process relations on the wall of my room. It’s like a visual sub-conscious study. 
  2. To be in the zone all the time of your study is quite daunting unless you have something to consider – Apps is the answer. (IOS). Few apps are PMP Smart Prep – Practice Test, PMP Exam Prep2017 Edition and PMPro – Free PMPExam Prep
There are lot more, beware of the quality though. Formulas were never a problem for me, so I didn’t take any extra measures to learn.


Exams/Mock Questions Used 
Practice is quite a game changer. But make sure you don’t overdo it. There is a very thin line of thinking, where you start making mistakes as you start to overthink even for a simple question. This happened to me.

You should know, when to stop taking questions and relax, too ;-)

I started my practice questions with  
  1. Satya’s 3 sets of 200 questions and 4th set of 75 questions, from the book – I Want To Be A PMP. (Very close to the exam type)
  2. Oliver Lehmann’s 75 questions and 175 questions.
And I did many more, however, the above two were the best I enjoyed and were close to the PMP style of questionnaire.

PMP Exam Experience
All that matters are 4 hours at the end. Once I consistently started getting 78 to 85% in my practice mock exams, I scheduled my exam.

Register yourself in PMI.org and start the registration process. Be a PMI member!

I strongly suggest to download and read the ‘Project Management Professional Handbook’ which clearly describes about certification program, how to apply, how to record your experience and education in the application and much more. Most of them are self-explanatory!  

I scheduled my exam on 21st August, 2017, 8 AM. Be ready for a long 4 hours test – a test of your stamina as well as your concentration. 

Satya’s question papers are a real chance to mock the PMP exam! The closest you can get to the real one. I did four consecutive 200 set questions in 4 days just before exam at the same time in the morning at 8:00 AM. This gave me an understanding of how I should orient myself in allocating my brain bandwidth consistently for the entire 4 hours.

In the initial hour my concentration was high, but it dropped substantially afterwards. To counter I practised taking a time out for 3 minutes and taking deep breaths that kept my system in control. 

Out of 200 questions, around 185 questions were situational and it demanded a thorough understanding of the concepts. It took an average of 25 to 40 seconds to read the question itself and the rest to comprehend and find the best answer.

PMI had introduced two new features in the exam:
  • Strike out option – which could visually help you in narrowing down on the answers.
  • Highlight option - you can highlight sentences so that you can only concentrate on the part of the question that makes sense rather than reading the question again.

These two options come in handy when you are reviewing the questions as you would be running short of time in the end, so make use of them diligently.
Reading of the glossary came in handy for me as few questions came from the most unexpected quarters of PMBOK, like a few for instance:
  • About the types of activities – Discrete, Apportioned, LOE
  • Activity ID and Activity Code differences.
  • FMEA (Analysis techniques) 
  • Standard vs policy

Mathematical Questions
  • Surprisingly the mathematical questions were direct and simple. EVM questions were straight forward.
  • Had couple of questions from EMV which were again direct, asking to calculate the total EMV.
  • Questions from the Time Management were little time consuming as I had to create the network diagram from the scratch as they just provided the dependent activity and the duration and asked me to derive the free and total float of activities.

Situational and Tricky Questions
I felt most of the questions were heavy worded where the intention was to divert your focus from the actual question.

The simple trick is to understand what they want rather than why they want! 

I have noticed that the last two sentences carry the actual question of “what” and you just need to concentrate on that part. The rest of the paragraph is just a story and a buildup. However, having said that you should read the entire question once clearly.

It is also a test of your English comprehension and grammar.  A simple difference of “is” or a “was” can change the process or the process group completely while answering.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants

Dos
  • PAY and register first or you shall never write the exam.
  • The PMBOK guide is a must read. Read at least twice and skim through once just before the exam.
  • Practise good quality questions and keep evaluating where you are weak.
  • Always keep yourself in constant touch with the subject. A gap of a week or two can disrupt your focus. There are situations where you might have to tend to other work, in that situations mobile apps come in handy. Keep doing practise questions so that you won’t lose the focus.
  • Make notes. Refer Satya’s tips - they are very handy.
  • Read the Management Yogi blog for more insights and better inputs. (e.g., PMP Protein
  • Practise mathematical questions a lot so your response time improves.
  • Join PMP groups in Linkedin – there are a lot of discussions that happen and participate in them.
  • If you are stuck some place, call Satya.

Don’ts
  • Do not refer many books, you lose sight of the actual concept.
  • Don’t believe the internet.
  • Validate your references well. Seek Satya’s advice.
  • Do not panic in the exam, stop and take deep breaths and come back to your zone.
  • Don’t overthink, draw line when to and when not to.
  • Don’t take long gaps(days) in between the study time. Stay focused and determined.
  • If you are sick or ill, do not study at that time as you shall recover slow. This happened to me, as I feel sick two weeks prior and still kept studying and it took a toll on me both mentally and physically. Take complete rest for a day or two until you are recovered. I even did a mock exam and failed miserably as my concentration levels were hit bad. It can hit your confidence. So, health comes first then you can think of wealth!

Conclusion
Unlike other certifications I have seen, PMP make sure you are always in constant touch with subject by means of earning PDU’s. This is a smart way of keeping yourselves updated as well, so that we all can remain competitive in this ever-changing dynamic of technology and process.

I would love to contribute back to the project world with the insights and knowledge gained from this course. If you give back, you get more in return is what I have learned.

It’s just not professionally, but I am able to apply the concepts in my day to day life starting right from the kitchen to planning trips! 

It has been a wonderful journey for the past 3 months where I have learned a lot about myself, my capabilities and my hidden skills. I wish all of you enjoy the same and get yourself a PMP credential. Cheers!

Profile
Name: Chaitanya Rao Araveti
Company: Shell Oil and Gas
Role: Project Application Lead
Other Companies I worked with: Robert Bosch, CenturyLinks, Ciber.
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chaitanya-araveti-b49439a




Friday, August 25, 2017

PMP Protein: Earned Value Management – Advanced

By Sathish Babu, PMP




In my previous article PMP Protein: Earned Value Management (EVM) – Basics, we have discussed about how to calculate earned value, variances and performance indices based on the past performance of a project. These values are important to identify whether you’re on, ahead of, or behind schedule and on, under, or over budget. 

In this article, we will discuss about forecasting project costs and future performance of a project.


Terms to Know:
1. Estimate at Completion (EAC) is a forecast of how much the total project will cost (total cost of completing all work).  It projects the total cost at completion based on project performance up to a point in time.

When calculating EAC, different formulas can be used, depending on your assumptions. The assumptions are with respect to the cumulative cost performance index (CPI) or a combination or cumulative CPI and cumulative schedule performance index (SPI) or if your estimate is no longer valid. 

Given below with simple explanation to identify where to use what.


Formulas:
EAC = BAC / CPI – If the CPI is expected to be the same for the remainder of the project, the EAC can be calculated using this formula.

EAC = AC + BAC - EV – If the future work will be accomplished at the planned rate (initial one), the EAC can be calculated using this formula.

EAC = AC + Bottom Up ETC – If the initial plan is no longer valid, the EAC can be calculated using this formula.

EAC = AC + (BAC - EV) / (CPI * SPI) – If both the CPI and SPI influences the remaining work, the EAC can be calculated using this formula.

To know more on how these formulae are derived you can refer:
PMP Exam Prep: Calculating EAC and ETC for Forecasting

2. Estimate To Complete (ETC) is the expected cost to finish all the remaining work. It forecasts how much more will be spent on the project, based on past performance.

         Formula for ETC = EAC - AC If the work is proceeding to plan, the cost of completing the
         remaining authorized work can be calculated using this formula.


3. Variance At Completion (VAC) is the projection of the amount of budget deficit or surplus. It is expressed as a difference between budget at completion and the estimate at completion.

         Formula for VAC = BAC – EAC

4. To Complete Performance Index (TCPI) describes the performance that must be achieved in order to meet the financial or schedule goals. It is expressed as a ratio of the cost to finish the outstanding work to the budget available.

         Formulas:
         • TCPI = BAC - EV / BAC - AC The efficiency that must be maintained in order to complete to
            plan.

         • TCPI = BAC - EV / EAC - AC The efficiency that must be maintained in order to complete
            the current EAC.


To know more on how these formulae for TCPI are derived, you can refer:
To Complete Performance Index (TCPI) and Cost Performance Index (CPI)

Example:
Let’s take the same example given in my previous article to continue further.

A project has a budget of $1,000,000 and schedule for 10 months. It is assumed that the total budget will be spent equally each month until the 10th month is reached. After 4 months, the project manager finds that only 10% of the work is finished and a total of $200,000 spent.

We have already calculated the following values my earlier post.



If you know your CPI now, you can use it to predict what your project will actually cost when it’s complete. 

  • If your CPI is below 1, EAC will be larger than project budget (BAC).
  • If your CPI is above 1, EAC will be smaller than project budget (BAC).
  • If your CPI is under budget, TCPI calculation will be based on your BAC.
  • If your CPI is over budget, TCPI calculation will be based on your EAC.

Let’s derive further to find out estimates of final cost and time to complete.



It is always a good practice to plot the values on a graph in order to help stakeholders concerned to visualize the progress and the health of the project. This is shown below.



Twist for Exam: 
Sometimes you get question which provides partial information. Depending on the information you are given in a question, you can reverse the formulas. 

Below are some formulas for you.


Most of the earned value questions on the exam will be pretty straightforward. You will be given the numbers that you need to plug into a formula and when you do it you will get the answer. But occasionally, you will get a question that isn’t quite so straightforward.

Below are some exercises for you. 

Exercises:
  1. Your project has a total budget of $300,000. You can check your records and find that you have spent $175,000 so far. The team has completed 40% of the project work. However, when you check the schedule it says that 50% of the work should have been completed. What is the SPI and CPI of your project?
  2. BAC is $40,000 and EAC is $30,000, EV is $17,000 and AC is $15,000. What is your TCPI considering BAC as the budget?
  3. Your project has a BAC of $4,522 and EV of $587.66. What is the PV of your project?

Aiming for Exam:
  • The earned value formulas have numbers divided into or subtracted from EV.
  • Variance is always subtraction and an index is always division.
  • SV and SPI use PV, while CV and CPI use AC. EV comes first in each of these formulas.
  • If it is a variance, the formula is EV minus something.
  • If it is an index, the formula is EV divided by something.
  • If the formula relates to cost, use AC.
  • If the formula relates to schedules, use PV.
  • For variances interpretation: negative is bad and positive is good.
  • For index interpretation: and less than one is bad and greater than one is good.

References: 
  1. “7.4 Control Costs” from PMBOK Guide 5th Edition.
  2. “Chapter – 8: Project Cost Management” from Book - I Want To Be A PMP by Satya Narayan Dash.
  3. “Chapter - 7. Cost Management” from Head First PMP 3rd Edition.

Written by Sathish Babu:
Sathish Babu is working for Kodiak Networks as a Project Manager and having 11+ years of experience in Product, Project Management and Service Delivery in Telecom domain.


Monday, August 21, 2017

PMP Success Story: Group Discussions and Clear Understanding of Relationship Among 47 Processes are Keys to Success

By Suresh Juturu, PMP



Introduction
The desire and passion for getting the PMP® certification were started when I switched to the management role from a technical role. I’ve already taken the PMP course and got good understanding on all the processes of knowledge areas/process groups.  

I happened to meet my colleagues who also had got trained in PMP, where Satya had led the course. I was amazed to see the calibre of my colleagues who also got an excellent understanding overall. We decided to get together and learn from each other on each topic to succeed in the exam in a very short time.  Today I’m a certified Project Management Professional!!

PMP Coaching Experience
If you can form a group of 3-4 aspirants, it is important to share and learn from each other’s practical world to share their project experiences in real time. This you can combine and compare with the theory of the PMBOK® guide.


Remember – exam is a test of your ability to apply your understanding of the PMBOK guide in various scenarios and not really how the given processes are being followed in real time, as approaches to project life cycles can vary across organizations.

Keep the notes on exam tips collected from the course handy and share it across and apply them in the exam. Satya’s notes especially on relation among the processes and order in which is being followed was a great treasure to remember all 47 in an easy way.

Own Study
We started our full-fledge preparation for exam 6 weeks before, mostly on weekends. We took a break of 6 full days out of the work just before the exam and went through all the notes and processes on the project to remember easily. Again, the key here is to explain to your colleagues on notes/ understanding of the process being applied and debate and discuss in length till you get convinced that it is rightly and sufficiently applied.

Reading and understanding of PMBOK was very challenging, so I have used a reference book for studying to keep me interested ;-). Have all the notes downloaded on the smart phone was a key too. I referred only those notes as a last lap of preparation before appearing in the exam.

PMP Exam Experience
First thing first. After our PMP applications were approved, we immediately scheduled for it, instead of waiting for a long time and then scheduling. 

Backtracking works! Yes, that helped me finishing PMBOK and reference books once completely along with revision of notes, presentation slides and other materials shared.

Next, we took sample mock exams online to practice. The first 2 mock tests are very important and played key role for me as we have not only answered the questions but also discussed the wrong choices we had made, to understand why so. This increased our confidence levels to a greater extent for the real test.

I could finish all the questions in 3 hours’ time with only around 20 questions marked for revision. I kept my pacing in exam well – didn’t get stuck anywhere ;-). I took a break for 5 minutes to refresh. In the final lap, I didn’t have any doubt in my mind about the result. Clicked done before the time and was very happy to see the result. Hurray!! 

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Priorities always matters whether personal or professional or career. Select your exam date so that you will make a priority for your PMP exam sooner.
  • With other high priorities and hard work needed for PMP, don’t forget to keep tab of your health. Avoid street food, e.g., popular roadside snacks ;-)
  • Don’t be overconfident. You must take mock test. The key is to understand the questions for which you choose wrong answers.
  • There are online websites for practice questions daily/weekly. You can try them as well. 
  • Prepare good notes handy with explanation to remember easily:
  • Example:
    • Budget at completion (BAC), which is the first baselined total cost for your project. 
    • Estimate at completion (EAC), which keeps changing based on the performance at current point.
    • To Complete Performance Index (TCPI), which tells if the project is harder or easier to complete.
  • If needed, you can use sound proof head phones offered to avoid the disturbances from other’s keyboard stroke noises. I tried using it for first 2 mins and felt a vacuum in mind as no Air can enters into ears. 
  • Watch out the network cable hanging around your foot as you may touch/move them unintentionally while taking a break during the exam.
  • Wear warm clothes as the room temperature at the exam center might be low. 

Conclusion
After getting my PMP certification, I felt energized and received the needed boost ;-) to pursue other exams like CSM and PMI-ACP. For the latter training, I finally met Satya. Thanks to Satya for giving the opportunity to share my PMP experience here.

Brief Profile:
Suresh Juturu, Project Leader in a leading MNC. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

PMP Protein: Strategic Planning, Analysis and Alignment

By Manas Das, PMP



What is Strategy?
To be successful, one organization needs to set a clear, sound strategy. Strategy is how one organization chooses to deliver its products or services to meet customers’ needs. It’s the unique way that our organization carries out its purpose and separates itself from the competition.
A good strategy consists of two major elements:
  1. The value proposition—what makes our organization’s products or services distinctive so customers want to do business with us instead of our rivals.
  2. The value chain—the combination of organizational activities that makes our unique value proposition possible.

Why is Strategy Important?
Excellent execution is not enough to remain successful. Eventually, other organizations will be able to offer customers what we provide—often better or cheaper. Our organization can set itself apart from our competitors by having a sound strategy and skillfully carrying it out. Strategy provides the information that we and managers at all levels need to define our work—and help our organization continue to thrive.

Project Manager’s Role in Strategy Planning
We, as project managers, may play a number of different roles in planning and executing our organization’s strategy.


We may be asked to analyze information that senior managers then use to develop an organization-wide strategy. Units hold tremendous knowledge about an organization and can recommend what it should be doing and where it should be going.

Strategy is usually developed through a strategic planning process which helps to ensure the followings:
  • A strategy is sound
  • All units are aligned with the strategy
  • Strategy implementation is effective

The result of the planning process is a strategic plan.
Strategic plans vary, but they usually segmented across below major contents.
  • Direction statement — a summary of the organization’s vision, mission, and values that guide the strategy.
  • Strategic objectives — goals and outcomes that represent achievement of a strategic vision. 
  • Priority issues — key issues (weaknesses to be addressed or opportunities to be seized) that the organization needs to tackle to be successful.
  • Action plans — specific steps the organization needs to take to accomplish its priority items and reach its objectives.
Your organization may use different terms for these elements of a strategic plan. However, most organizations document their strategy and, in broad terms, explain how they plan to achieve it.

Strategic Analysis 
Strategic analysis is the process of conducting research on the business environment within which an organization operates and on the organization itself, in order to formulate strategy to take advantage of the path of least resistance to achieve your goal.

Strategic Analysis involves:
  • Understanding what you currently do
  • Determining what you want to become 
  • Planning how to get there

A typical strategic planning process looks like this. 
Senior managers in an organization generally begin strategic planning by gathering data and researching the world in which the organization operates. They then narrow in on the top three or four priority issues that the organization needs to tackle to be successful in the long term. 

For each priority issue, units and teams create high-level action plans. Senior managers use these action plans to further clarify the organization’s strategic objectives. Senior managers and units go back and forth several times to examine, discuss, and refine the plan. The overall strategy then feeds into planning at different levels in the organization

Below figure depicts the various steps used in strategic analysis and subsequent strategic plan creation.

Figure: Steps in Creating Strategic Plan

1) Analyze external and internal factors

To begin with part of the strategic planning process, it’s important to look at factors that affect organization units. You also include external forces such as technology changes and internal factors such as aging business processes. 
The goal is to identify as many of these factors as possible and assess their potential impact.
By looking at the changing environment in which organizations are operating, we gain a better idea of our strategic options—and the effect those choices may have on our organization.

2) Perform SWOT analyses
Based on our exploration of external and internal factors, we perform a SWOT analysis. In a SWOT analysis, we and our unit identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
We may be asked to do two SWOT analyses—one focused on the organization and another on units respectively.
  • Strengths—capabilities that enable your organization or unit to perform well. Your organization needs to leverage these. 
  • Weaknesses—characteristics that prevent your organization or unit from performing well. Your organization needs to address these. 
  • Opportunities—trends, forces, events, and ideas that affect your organization or unit. Your organization needs to capitalize on these. 
  • Threats—possible events or forces outside of your control. Your organization needs to plan for or decide how to lessen these.

3) Identify priority issues
Based on the results of the SWOT analysis, priority issues can be identified.

Priority issues generally take advantage of a short window of opportunity and have major, long-term financial impact.

For example: 
  • After conducting a SWOT analysis for the organization, you and your unit see an opportunity to expand your products into developing countries. You identify a priority issue to enter new markets. 
  • After conducting a SWOT analysis for the unit, you learn that your unit has a weakness in developing innovative products or services. You therefore make greater capacity for innovation a unit priority. 
If someone contributing to the organization’s overall strategic planning process, it’s important to present the priority issues to senior managers. The senior management team reviews priority issues submitted by units as well as ones they have generated themselves.

Senior managers typically select three or four key strategic priority issues for the organization to pursue and delegate each priority issue to one or more units or cross-functional teams.

4) Develop high-level action plans
Once units or teams are assigned priority issues (or “strategic initiatives”), they develop high-level action plans to address them. These plans list the objectives, tasks, and requirements needed to address each priority issue. Each priority issue typically generates multiple action plans. 

For example, if customer retention is a priority issue, it may lead to two action plans: one for improving customer service and another for developing a customer loyalty program.

Once the high-level action plans are completed, it’s sent to the senior management team for review and discussion. Post approval the resources and cross functional team carry out the plans which helps aligning corporate strategy with unit or team action.

5) Finalize the strategic plan
The last step in the planning process is to finalize the strategic plan. At this point the draft of overall objectives or summary intended for contributions to the strategy comes out. 

During the planning process, there might be unit-level priority issues been identified and tasks that will move unit toward fulfilling its own mission and vision.

6) Update the strategic plan
Once a strategic plan is in place, senior managers will regularly review, assess, and adjust it.
If external and internal factors remain the same, it will likely need only minor adjustments.
However, if the environment changes dramatically, then the plan will need to be reevaluated and will likely need major modifications.

Strategic Alignment
Strategic Alignment is the process of how to execute our strategic plans so we will stay on the path to success.
Highlighted below are the key steps to get the strategic alignment. 

1) Communicate strategy clearly
To put your organization’s strategy in motion, people need to know where they are going and why—and be motivated to get there. 
Managers play a key role in communicating the strategy and helping people to buy into it.
Leaders communicate the organization’s overall strategic direction to employees.
Managers translate the strategy into the work their units perform.
In communicating the strategy the reasons for it is made clear.
When people understand the benefits of executing the strategy, they are more likely to choose to do so. 

Communication can take many forms, such as: 
    • Brochures
    • Printed newsletters 
    • Emails 
    • Slideshows 
    • Town Hall
    • Focus groups 
    • Bulletin boards
    • Social media 
    • Surveys and polls
2) Encourage participation
When people gets involved in planning how to execute the strategy, motivation increases. Workshops helps people understand their role in making strategy happen.

3) Clarify decision rights
To successfully execute the action plans, people in unit need to make good decisions and implement them quickly and everyone knows which decisions and actions they’re responsible for—and which they’re not.

Once people have a clear idea of what decisions they should and should not be making, they held accountable for their choices. Avoid second-guessing, micromanaging, or looking over their shoulders—these can undermine self-confidence, prolong the decision-making process, and add confusion. Clarifying decision rights also makes tracking individual achievement easier.

Encourage higher-level managers to delegate operational decisions. Doing so, frees them to focus on the strategies needed to fulfill your organization’s mission—and lets the people doing the work decide how it gets done.

4) Make strategy everyone’s job
To help implement the organization’s strategy, people throughout the organization need timely and accurate information. Information needs to move from senior managers down through the ranks, from people in the field up to their managers, and among units.  

To make strategy everyone’s job: 
  • Help one’s direct reports understand how their day-to-day choices affect your organization’s bottom line. Schedule brown-bag lunches or other less structured gatherings for people to talk about the strategy with leaders throughout the organization.
  • Make sure important information flows quickly from your unit to the leadership team. That way, senior managers can identify new trends, intervene in problems before they spin out of control, and spread best practices throughout the organization.
  • Build networks for cross-unit collaboration critical to implementing the new strategy. Regular meetings and progress reports can foster trust among people from different functional areas.

5) Ensure alignment
  • Start with the right people - through hiring and training, right skills, attitude, and resources to do their jobs well.
  • Ensure that activities align with your strategy. Make certain that all unit actions support the organization’s strategy. 
  • Align your organization’s structure. Ensure your unit is optimally organized to achieve your goals.
  • Align culture and leadership. Model the behaviors and values you would like your direct reports to adopt.
  • Develop incentives. Design a rewards and recognition system that aligns employees’ interests with the success of the strategy.

6) Refine action plans
One may find that his action plans have lost focus or are no longer aligned with the organization’s larger strategy. 

To refine the action plans:
  • Accept that changes to your action plans are inevitable.
  • Be clear about who has final approval of changes. Establish a checks-and-balances system by ensuring that those who propose changes are not the ones who approve them.
  • Ask yourself, “Does this proposed change support our organization’s strategy and priority issues?” If not, consider setting the idea aside and addressing it in the future.
  • Clearly define all the ramifications—for both your unit and your organization—of accepting and implementing a change to your action plans. Consider how the change will impact your deadlines, overall costs, and team members’ workloads.
  • If a proposed change requires additional funding, people, or time not included in your original action plans, determine where those extra resources will come from. You may be able to redirect existing resources within your group without causing too much disruption to the rest of your plans or you may need to lobby senior management for additional resources.
  • Document all accepted changes. These records will prove valuable in the future, when you evaluate completed action plans or create new action plans to advance your organization’s strategy.

References: 
  • Harvard Manage Mentor Strategic Thinking 
  • The Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning - Harvard Business Review by H Mintzberg


Written by Manas Das: 
Manas Das has 12+ years of work experience and is playing a Project Manager role for retail portfolios for North-American geography for Enterprise Application Services at Infosys Technologies Ltd.


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