The secret to getting projects approved that have a good chance at success

As the principal partner of Solutia SDO, Jackie Clark has had a direct role in managing the people behind the technology that’s transformed businesses across Canada. When IT projects stall, this seasoned leader, who’s had a front seat watching tech transform business in Canada, knows how to manage people to get projects running again. This bi-weekly column is for leaders working on enterprise-wide projects searching for insight on navigating the issues and pain points that hijack success. We’ll be sharing the most common questions Clark hears from her clients and her responses to them. Do you want your project management problems solved? Leave a comment with your question or  Tweet Jackie @sdosolutia.


I read in your last blog about how important it is to understand the corporate strategy and make sure all project work is aligned to support it. How do I create a strategic plan within my department that aligns and supports the corporate direction so that my projects get approved and have a good chance at success?     

Strategic planning is a disciplined effort to support fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it; with a focus on where it wants to go and how it is going to get there.

A critical factor in developing a strategic plan is looking down the road at the end game. Ask yourself the following questions as you look one to three years into the future:

  1. How will technology affect your services or products?
  2. How are the markets and clients you serve going to change?
  3. Who will be your future competitors?
  4. What are your strengths today? Will they still be strengths in the future?
  5. If you have a revenue stream, how big is it? Compared to other departments/organizations?
  6. How important is your department to the overall success of the company?

The Strategic Planning process is a major endeavour and timing is critical. There are certain organizational elements that must be in place to ensure the process will provide the maximum benefit.

  • A commitment on the part of your executive management
  • Resolution of all crises and life-threatening issues
  • A commitment of necessary time and resources
  • A willingness to think outside the box and to look at new approaches to performing and evaluating the “business”

The goal then becomes one of creating a strategy statement to articulate your department’s purpose, business, and values, along with any new products, services, and markets you will be developing. It’s important to include short and long term financial objectives.

Conduct a SWOT analysis to obtain current information about your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, and performance information to highlight the critical issues you will face in the next few years.  These could include a variety of primary concerns, such as funding issues, changing regulations, and changing needs in the client population. Critical constraints will naturally emerge from this process.

At this point, you are able to identify departmental initiatives (aka projects) required to support the elements of the strategic plan. Let the games begin!

If your department has a solid strategy in place grounded in the corporate culture and demonstrating clear business opportunity, chances are good the projects to drive your strategy will be supported by stakeholders and have a better chance of success.



Jackie Clark
Jackie Clark
Program and change management expert in digital and data transformation, and technology system reengineering.

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