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Project Management has achieved a great success in our modern society as compared to the time it was introduced, it has really helped organisations in planning, securing, managing and controlling resources to a achieve specific goals. The involvement of project management in the organisations has really improved the organisational strategies by adding values and benefits, in order to acquire a unique goals and objectives which give rise to a good competitive benefit towards other corporate organisation (Patton &White, 2002). Most corporate organisations find it difficult to formulate strategic plans and implement them at the operational level. At the top, middle and bottom of the corporate structures, problems often occur in handling the corporate vision and strategy, the accountability of most senior heads, and boards of director are often seen as generalities rather than specifics. The working levels often see corporate plan as threat, and defy them. The intermediate levels of business regards corporate strategies as requiring only nominal consideration and support. Indeed most middle managers have placed their interest on self-seeking initiatives that supports whatever strategies the company can plan. This affects the way strategic planning is supposed to work, the most superior heads of the organisation ought to introduce specific plans with the help of key managers and experts throughout the business. Then the overall business should implement the strategic plans with great commitment. One perspective in literature assumes that the project management approach enables business and organisational strategy to be implemented efficiently, thus reducing the time in formulating strategy to implementing strategy (Hauc and Kovac, 2000, Gareis, 1989, Partington, 1996). In respect to this perspective is the concept of strategic alignment.
A business is best aligned with respect to its organisational strategies when the interests of the stakeholders in the business are in alliance with the strategic objectives of the business itself (Turner and Muller, 2003). This can be achieved by focusing the business assets upon the organisations strategy. These assets include employees, innovation, business processes and profit requirements. Focusing these assets on the organisational goals, it will improve the alignment of the organisational strategies.
1.1 THE ROLE OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT IN ORGANISATIONAL STRATEGY
Project management is growing rapidly by becoming a standard way of doing business in organisations. Majority of the organisations accomplish their goals through projects. Projects are a means of addressing and coordinating activities that cannot be addressed within organisational limits and can often be used to achieve organisations strategic plan (Project Management Institute, 2004). The development of strategic plans is to meet goals and objectives in an organisation, and it also requires extensive analysis of the internal and external organisation environments.
According to (Tom Burns, 1994) Organization is a stable environment which comprises of several elements like hierarchical control, division of labour, formal rules. He further concluded that these elements are efficient ways to organize routing and activity in an organization.
(Blau & schoenherr, 1971) Argued that larger organization were different than the smaller ones, because they allow more clarified division of labour. However larger organizations also had a lesser percentage of administrators, making them to have less clear hierarchy of authority than the smaller organizations. (Blau & schoenherr, 1971)Explains his argument that organizations need certain kind of administrative independence on volume of business they conduct, and the number of administrators does not increase proportionally as the volume of work grows. The growth of an organisation depends on its strategic objectives and goal.
Table: Example of Strategic Objectives and goals. (ESI international, 2006)
Nigerian bottling Company
. Regain market share recently lost to competitors
. Improve quality
MTN Nig Ltd
.Achieve a widest network coverage of the country
.Best telecommunication company in the country
. Establish more Customer centres in the country
.Reduced call tariff
.Introduction of various incentive products
.Win the Champions League
.Win the Premier league
.Invest in high quality footballers.
.Hire a world class coach
This examples illustrates the strategic plan to be achieved within a certain of period of time (e.g. within three years, six years etc.). Projects need a good time management in deploying their strategies, and the implementation of these strategies requires actions in completing the project tasks (ESI International, 2006).Every Project is meant to have a task to be accomplished within a given time in the organisation and this accomplishment may be taken as milestones. Milestones provide an opportunity to track and manage projects according to accomplishment in a particular timeline, in addition the working hours is allocated and assigned to each projects. A Project is successful when the time, cost, and quality affect the final project outcome (Cookie-davies, 2007). Projects are meant to satisfy customer and stakeholder alike, thereby producing desired results. The results of the project need to meet the strategic objectives of the project. During the implementation process there should be a linkage between the project and the strategic plan.
Figure 1: Project and Strategy (ESI international, 2006)
Define vision and Mission
Identify goals and objectives
Analyse External &Internal Environments
Implement Strategy through projects
Formulate strategies to achieve objectives
The figure above shows the process of project management in relation to strategic management. Strategy is defined by (Patton & White, 2002) as a comprehensive set of actions or activities which guide and direct the use of firm's resources to accomplish the organizations visions and goal. These goals enable organization to compete with other competitors in the market by improving the value of their products and services in the organisation. To determine organisations project choices and priorities, there is a need to use projects to deliver the organisations chosen strategy. (Patton & White, 2002) Suggest that strategies should be driven down to the operational levels of the organization where they can quickly evolve into a large number of projects. Projects derived from the high level strategic plan are the various specific cross-organizational changes that are necessary to implement the strategies, goals and vision of the strategic plan. The strategic plan should be aligning with the organisational structure, and the implementation of each project should support the organisational structure. As Organisations pursue numerous projects, the resources such as funds, equipment, scope and time quality should be readily available for efficient implementation of the projects. Most projects suffer setbacks due to insufficient resources to handle the projects. In carrying out a project there is a need to know what the organisation entails, and whether the project is in alignment with the organisational strategy.
2. STRATEGIC PROJECT ALIGNMENT
Strategic Management helps organisations in formulating and implementing strategies in a complex environment with set of objectives in alignment with the organisational structure (Hauc & Kovac, 2000). Large organisations need a functional structure in order to manage numerous numbers of projects in the organisation. When the organisation is not capable of handling frequent projects, due to its minimal structure, it normally leads to poor management of the projects. However, (Anderson & Merna, 2003)assume that the reason for project let-down often initiates in poor management at the beginning during strategy preparation, relatively than downstream accomplishment. (Maylor, 2001)Drives further to propose that more than 80 per cent of all complications at the project level are triggered by miscarriages at the board level in organisations to deliver clear policies and priorities. This is notwithstanding of (Archibald's, 1988)declaration that if high-ranking managers want to manage their organisations strategically, they must offer active project management practices connected with strategic management practices. Observing the information technology practises how it aligned with the organisational strategy.
2.1 Alignment of IT strategy with Organisational Strategy and Structure
(Venkatraman, 1989)In his investigation on IT impact, suggested that IT could build a progress thoroughfare for new profit creating activities. He argued that IT has an essential organizational and strategic dimension. (Cash.J & Konsynski.B, 1985) Explained that spreading outside the internal, proficiency focus and the abilities now exits for organizations to install new IT applications that influence information and technology qualities to attain various sources of competitive advantages in the marketplace. Current study displays that IT has inclined to transform traditional organisations into numeric digital enterprises (Prosenjit .K. & Morin, 2002). They aid enterprises to create electronic associations with their customers and dealers through Exchange Electronic Data technology (EED)), to segment markets and electronic stages with their competitors (notably through marketplaces) and to effortlessly reach new global markets.EED technology, for example, increases relations between two partners by enabling social exchanges and the coordination of incomes and manners of variation and cooperation (Baile, 2003).Effective management of Information Technology strategies in most cooperation's requires alignment to be able to reduce functional complexities in the organisations.
Various terms and definitions have been used in the literature to describe the concept of corporate strategy and IT strategy alignment in the organisation. For (Woolfe & Cash, 1992) "strategic alignment" occurs when a firm has coordinated its whole strategy and its IT systems (Chan & Huff, 1993)explain that organizations typically attain "strategic alignment" by passing over three levels: awareness, integration and alignment. The awareness level specifies that the firm has gotten to a level of awareness in identifying and acting upon the significance of having Information System (IS) more closely associated with the business. The second level is concerned with integrating operational business and Information System ideas and activities. The final level (strategic alignment level) concern integrating IS with the organization's essential strategies and core competencies. (Papp & Lufthman, 1995)Defines 'strategic alignment' as the suitable use of IT in the integration and expansion of business strategies and corporate goals.
Figure 2:Strategic Alignment Model
Figure 2 demonstrates that, if a firm wants to generate best enactment levels, it should align its IT strategy with its strategy and its organizational structure. In others words, firms can recognize best routine levels by aligning IT strategy with corporate strategy and structure.
Information Technology Strategy is defined in terms of the choices relating to the arranging of the industry in the information technology market. It imitates the set of goals (conclusions), means (schedules) and underlying suppositions that relate to these choices. Three constituents motivate this strategy and have significant counterparts with corporate strategy. These are technology scope, distinctive competences, and governance structure. Technology scope, equivalent to business scope, denotes to the forms and variety of IT functionality that will be made obtainable to the organization. Strategic choices relating to scope frequently centre on acceptance of an evolving technology. For example, using expert systems to regionalize the endorsing specialist to the self-governing agents aids new business strategies for an indemnification carrier. Likewise, the use of an electronic imaging system for paper-intensive processes like credit cards enables new methods of differentiation for a financial service firm. The critical concept is how these choices position the firm in the IT market. The choices might increase or decrease the firm's reliance on certain vendors. Distinctive competencies refer to those adoptions that upset the ability of the firm to distinguish its IT infrastructure. As with distinctive features of a business strategy, there are some amounts of individualities that may differentiate the technology strategy pursued. In addition the degree of connectivity mirrored in the infrastructure can affect physiognomies such as obtainability or access to information, tractability or cost. Decisions to accept or offer standards such as operating systems (e.g., UNIX), communication protocols (e.g., OIS), application surroundings (MAPA, SQL, etc.) or hardware (e.g., common PC design), rise the prospective for connectivity through dealers and openly affect tractability and accessibility within and between organizations. Of course, adoption of such standards also decreases the ability to use precise information systems as a competitive barrier and thus must be judged in terms of present or developing business strategy.
2.2 Benefits of Strategic Alignment
Strategic alignment emphasizes vitality, eliminates idleness, eliminates contradictory work and defines the proficiencies and competencies which deliver competitive advantage to the organization. Other important benefits result from the alignment's involvement to project coordination, such as result redundancy elimination, project conflict elimination, and project outcome quality assurance. The conflict, redundancy and coordination difficulties experienced by many businesses in managing projects may ascend from an absence of alignment in the business itself, and not in mismanagement of the individual enterprises and projects. Alignment also has many other benefits, some of which may be more important to an organization that wants to adjust its current alignment than the main benefit of providing focus. Some of these benefits include:
Advancing the profit of creativity and project activities by concentrating corporate incomes on the business activities where they will have the greatest optimistic impact. With inadequate resources, this ability is critical to the overall success of the business. A business needs to elucidate both strategy and the contribution with association of stakeholders in the business which will be required to put into action. The action of supporting the authentication of the strategic plan and its elucidation into corporate and district strategic plans ,helps in shortening the realisation of strategic plans by eradicating redundant project activity, avoiding conflicts and recognising all the fences that need to be devastated to ensure success.
Success is also derived by drawing the corporate nature and values, processes, capabilities, competencies, and resource realities collectively to implement the organization's strategy. This reduces cost by abolishing the need to correct hitches that are instigated by conflicting projects and eluding projects that are focused on business activities that do not support strategy. Organisations strategy provides flexibility and structure to change strategy quickly. Alignment also supports the quick, effective evaluation of the impact of changing strategic plans. . Alignment makes strategy real, going beyond slogan, symbol and historically unfilled intentions by providing constancy and simplicity of purpose from the top of the organization down to the operating level as strategy becomes infused throughout the total process .An aligned organization can make non-strategic organisation changes quickly, within its strategic framework. This supports market manoeuvrability, a vital capability for businesses
LIMITATIONS OF PROJECTS OBJECTIVES ALIGN WITH ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES
Obviously businesses are probably better at building strategy than at implementing it. Virtually every business contains attention as a strategic objective, most direct improving focus as a priority. Many executives believe that focus is a key success actor to substantial advances in corporate competence, usefulness and tractability. However, lack of focus is a widespread delinquent in businesses today. Most businesses do not put strategic plans into practice. In most cases, operating levels of management work around corporate plans, and deliver only insincere attention and support. In other cases, corporate strategy is completely ignored and becomes "bookcase art." It is difficult to change strategy and the actual operations quickly in response to new opportunity or market pressures. The organization always seems to be behind the competition and the market. In the market place strategy execution is not placed within a formal planning and measurement structure.
There is a distribution of purpose and intent in organisations structure as managers at many levels try to understand the strategy and then to figure out how they will be affected and what they will need to do to make it happen. Few managers understand the strategy beyond its simplest goals. Many senior managers attention is not focused on the right goals and business activities to gain the most resource leverage, nor to obtain the greatest positive impact in delivering corporate strategy.
There are noticeable political dilemmas in the organisation limiting the strategy. In this regard most of the company's manager's consider the environment intensely competitive and biased. Managers generally do not trust each other and tend to refer difficulties upward, rather than settling among their peers.
The benefits of IT alignment with business strategy are of diverse essential to the long-term success of every organisation that employs technology. Satisfactory alignment may take some time to achieve, but it helps organisational structure, if it is approached in a methodical, manner. Organisations develop good awareness of business context and significant factors that may affect the business, with suitable knowledge of the IT estates and value chains. Alignment makes organisations to know where they are going , and how to get there, understand what have to done differently in the future, learn how to use IT in making things better, and making better informed business and technology decisions. A number of assumptions in the literature and in some cases highlighted tactlessness to the complexity of alignment and project management practice