7 Tips to Avoid Project Misalignment

One of the most difficult project management issues to diagnose is project misalignment, which occurs when the goals of one working group do not match those of another or when an organization pursues an endeavor that is inconsistent with its core competencies. For that reason, sometimes a misaligned IT project is like having a billion-dollar back sprain. Too often, complex IT projects are compromised due to a lack of proper integration of the project team members and organization leadership.

During a session at the 2014 Federal Office Systems Exposition (FOSE) Conference, which wrapped May 15thNASA Chief Knowledge Officer Ed Hoffman stated that, “The task of integrating people and organizations in a complex IT project is more difficult than integrating the technology itself.”

Hoffman is not alone in wanting to shift the focus to better project management and sounder communication of objectives from agency leadership down to the project teams. The House Government Oversight and Reform Committee is currently working on an IT reform bill that includes creating an IT Collaboration Center within the Office of Management and Budget in order to provide for more stability and oversight for IT projects across the Federal government.

All of these tactics and shifts in focus will go a long way toward enabling agencies to produce sounder project management practices, especially for large IT projects that require close attention and monitoring from leadership so that project teams can move quickly and be flexible.

But it is important to note that all projects—great and small—can benefit from addressing misalignment issues in order to make sure project teams are working toward the goals their leadership teams have in mind.

Here are seven tips to correct misalignment with your projects:

  1. Remember that alignment is a shared responsibility of all project team members and the management team.
  2. Align all projects with the organization’s strategic goals and objectives, and periodically evaluate each project (and project decision) to ensure appropriate alignment.
  3. Consistently—but appropriately—challenge project decisions, data, and processes. Do not just blindly accept and implement them.
  4. Ensure that all stakeholders understand the relationship and integration of all project components. This will help maintain proper alignment by ensuring that everyone is working toward common objectives.
  5. Establish and maintain a culture that emphasizes openness, honesty, and integrity.
  6. Implement mechanisms to improve communication and relationships among the various stakeholders.
  7. Create an atmosphere of cooperation, shared values, and mutual accountability at all organizational levels to ensure that all decisions and actions align with what is best for both the project and the enterprise.

To learn more about how to align projects and programs with organizational and sponsor goals, check out our courses for experienced project and program managers.

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