Assessing if you can deliver successful projects that are strategically relevant is the key to project success.

Self-Evident Truth # 1:

Don't Start Projects You Can't Successfully Deliver

Projects are always started to successfully deliver the targeted results in full. Yet all too often you…

    • Don’t measure the project delivery capability demands of each project
    • Don’t know your organization’s overall capability to deliver different types of projects
    • Ignore the fact that most projects fail on one dimension or more (and you don’t know why).

Starting projects is easy. It’s fun. Driven by an idea, a need, or an opportunity, management, and staff starts a project and justifies it in the hope it will succeed. Yet, most (over 90% on the highest value delivery-based measures) don’t succeed.

To start a project knowing you’ll fail is of course foolish. But to start a project not knowing if you can succeed is equally foolish — especially as you now can assess both your organization’s value delivery capability and the capability requirements of each project.

Since the common project delivery approaches have not kept pace with the increasing complexity of projects, everyday organizations are taking on projects they cannot successfully deliver. This is an exercise in value destruction.

If you don’t know your value delivery capability level and don’t assess each value delivery capability requirement, you are flying blind and most likely to be taking on projects you cannot successfully deliver.

The first Self-Evident Truth requires that you ...

  • Know your organization’s current value delivery capability level
  • Know each project’s value delivery capability requirements
  • Identify and address any capability gaps to increase your likelihood of success
  • Plan the progressive and continuous upgrade of your capability to meet your strategy and portfolio needs.


Self-Evident Truth #2:

Projects Deliver Business Strategy

Projects that don’t directly enable, support, or deliver your current business strategy and direction are irrelevant and wasteful. Yet, you still…

  • Fail to objectively measure your projects’ strategic contribution
  • Accept vague alignment statements to high-level strategic directional goals
  • Can’t analyze which strategies are or are not being delivered by your projects.

Project success ultimately must be measured in terms of implemented strategy rather than just project completion.

Projects are created top-down and bottom-up. Top down projects are designed to achieve your organization’s strategy and business plans, and as such should be strategically aligned. Bottom-up projects, on the other hand, are often designed to solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. Whether or not these projects are ‘strategically aligned’ has to be determined.

Yet, your project portfolio’s connection to your organization’s strategy is often tenuous and vague. Projects are not objectively assessed in terms of exactly where, how, and how much they contribute to your strategy. Instead, most projects are ‘linked’ to some strategic direction. This is wholly inadequate.

Your project delivery approach should start with your corporate plan to identify the projects that will enable you to achieve your strategy. This can only be achieved if your corporate, financial, and portfolio plans are integrated and each project’s strategic contribution is scored and measured.

In Conclusion

If you can't analyse how each project is contributing to your project and how your strategy is being delivered by your portfolio, you are likely to be wasting capital on irrelevant, non-contributing projects. We routinely find 15-20% of investment expenditure is being spent on strategically irrelevant projects.

The second Self-Evident Truth requires that you...

  • Score and validate that all projects are contributing to your strategy
  • Measure each project’s specific areas of strategic contribution
  • Measure which strategies are and are not being advanced through your project portfolio
  • Know which projects are impacted by changes to your strategy.

Read more about  of these criteria is included in TOP's Prioritization program


Topics: Capability Development, Strategy Execution, Project Success, Value Delivery, Program / Project delivery

Further Reading

Read the other blogs in this series

The 8 Self-Evident Value Delivery Truths #1 Why We Need A New Approach

The 8 Self Evident Value Delivery Truths #2 Limiting Beliefs

The 8 Self Evident Value Delivery Truths #3 Who Is Accountable For Value

The 8 Self Evident Value Delivery Truths #4 Don't Start What You Can't Finish

You can read the full list of the self evident truths in our eBook




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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Dec 2010) as "The 8 Self Evident Value Delivery Truths #4"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections