What Is a Strategic Project?
Organizations can be good at tactical projects, such as moving to a new building or introducing a new product. These are projects that have one operational goal, which probably does not entail contributions by most employees within the organization. In these projects, meeting a tactical goal on time and within budget are key considerations. A strategic project, on the other hand, has a primary goal of gaining the competitive advantage by focusing on the organization's overall direction.
Strategic projects are designed to meet one or more strategic goals. These can include purchasing new companies to meet sales targets well into the future. The goal of these projects is to provide the road map to the question: "Where do we want to be five years down the road?" These types of projects may come from a SWOT, or Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats, type of analysis where an organization has to determine where it is currently in comparison with where it thinks it ought to be.
A strategic project, entailing the bulk of the workforce, may dictate a need for retraining, and processes may have to be redesigned to keep the standards of operations at a high level. Examples include major overhauls of systems, consolidations of operating companies or the purchase or spin-off of business units.
Strategic projects should have both a breadth span and address specific strategic goals to be defined as such in comparison with a tactical project. From a practical perspective, for a strategic project to be successful, it must have the support of the executive management team, who will not only provide support but also articulate the vision to those involved in the project. Change is often hard for employees, and it’s important to build excitement and support for the project by compellingly expressing the vision of how good things will be for all involved.
Tactical goals co-exist within the strategic project and should be completed on time and within budget. For example, to purchase a new company, legal documents must be prepared, vendors and customers must be notified, and business processes must be created. These tactical goals are created when teams determine ways to achieve the strategic goal.