The project situation and prospects
Strategic planning minimizes uncertainties in the enterprise Project environment is full of uncertainties. There are risks of various types due to uncertainties. Strategic planning involves anticipation of future events in relation to achieving objectives. The exercise of scanning the environment in strategic planning of uncertainties that may impact on the project helps in reducing uncertainties of the future.
Although the future cannot be predicted with one hundred percent accuracy, the planning against them during strategic planning helps management to anticipate the future and prepare for risks by necessary provisions to meet unexpected turn of events. This makes the project team more alert to the winds of change, new opportunities, and threatening developments while carrying out their activities aimed at achieving the project goal/ objectives. Therefore with the help of planning, uncertainties can be forecasted which helps in preparing standbys as a result, uncertainties are minimized to a great extent.
E. g. Ker Kwaro Acholi lost most of its funding from donor agencies to facilitate the activities of the cultural chiefs in the past two years due to the changing conflict situation in northern Uganda; they had no plan to reposition themselves to the changes in the conflict situation, children were no longer returning from captivity in big numbers that may make them get funds to do traditional cleansing, the peace talk in Juba had stalled that they may be required to engage in the process etc, so the project of Ker Kwaro Acholi were suffering lack of funding.
Last year the institution underwent strategic planning repositioning themselves according to the changes focusing their attention on post conflict peace building, reconciliation among the returning IDPs and mobilization of communities for development.
This made the institution relevant to the PRDP, and the situation in the current context of northern Uganda and they have received over 530 million Uganda shillings which is being used to conduct cleansing and reburials in areas where IDPs are returning, conduct peace forums in the name of WANGOO and revive good cultural values, norms and practices which were destroyed by the war and are potential to future conflicts. Strategic planning facilitates co-ordination in projects Strategic planning brings into play the critical issue of how to achieve the targeted result in light of the project situation and prospects.
Objectives are the ends and the strategy is the means of achieving them. It provides project teams with a rationale for evaluating competing budget request for investments in the project and new staff – a rationale that argues strongly for steering resources into strategy supportive, result producing areas. In doing so there is an integrated effort throughout the project in various departments and groups. This avoids duplication of efforts. In other words, it leads to better co-ordination and helps in finding out problems of work performance and aims at rectifying the same in a more effective and efficient way.
Strategic planning also improves employee’s moral. Strategic planning creates an atmosphere of order and discipline in a project or an enterprise. Employees know in advance what is expected of them and therefore conformity can be achieved easily. This encourages employees to show their best and also earn reward for the same which in turn creates a healthy attitude towards work environment which helps in boosting employees moral and efficiency. It helps in achieving economies in the operation of the project. Strategic planning secures economy since it leads to orderly allocation of resources to various operations.
It also facilitates optimum utilization of resources which brings economy in operations. It avoids wastage of resources by selecting most appropriate use that will contribute to the objective of the project. For example, raw materials can be purchased in bulk and transportation cost can be minimized. At the same time it ensures regular supply for the production department, that is, overall efficiency. Strategic planning facilitates controlling Strategic planning facilitates existence of certain planned goals and standard of performance within the enterprise. It provides basis of controlling.
We cannot think of an effective system of controlling without existence of well thought out plans. Strategic planning provides pre-determined goals against which actual performance is compared e. g. in every unit in a company needs concrete measurable objectives. It can be broken down into specific target for each enterprise unit and the project team is held accountable for achieving them. In fact, strategic planning and controlling are the two sides of a same coin. If strategic planning is the root, controlling is the fruit. Provides competitive edge to projects
Strategic planning provides competitive edge to the enterprise over the others which do not have strategic planning. In setting objectives, performance yardsticks are set both in terms of financial objective and strategic objectives, financial objectives are important because without acceptable financial performance a project may risk being denied the resources it needs to accomplish its results grow and prosper. This is because of the fact that strategic planning may involve changing in work methods, quality, quantity designs, extension of work, redefining of goals, etc.
With the help of forecasting not only the project secures its future but at the same time it is able to estimate the future motives of its competitor which helps in facing future challenges. Therefore, planning leads to best utilization of possible resources, improves quality of production and thus the competitive strength of the enterprise is improved. Strategic planning encourages innovations among the team members. In the process of strategic planning, team members have the opportunities of suggesting ways and means of improving performance.
Strategic planning is basically a decision making process which involves creative thinking and imagination that ultimately leads to innovation of methods and operations for growth and prosperity of the enterprise. Limitations Much as strategic planning is relevant in project planning and management there are several limitations. Some of them are inherit in the process of planning like rigidity and others arise due to shortcoming of the techniques used in strategic planning and in the planners themselves. Time consuming
Strategic planning is a time consuming process because it involves collection of information, its analysis and interpretation thereof. This entire process takes a lot of time specially where there are a number of alternatives available. Therefore strategic planning is not suitable during emergency or crisis when quick decisions are required. Probability in planning Strategic planning is based on forecasts which are mere estimates about the future. These estimates may prove to be inexact due to the uncertainty of future.
Any change in the anticipated situation may render plans ineffective. Plans do not always reflect real situations in spite of the sophisticated techniques of forecasting, because future is unpredictable. Thus, excessive reliance on strategic plans in project management may prove to be fatal. E. g. sudden change in political climate such as change of government from National Resistance Movement to some other political party with a different political agenda, labour union strikes, lockouts, agitations, natural calamities such as earthquakes and floods, etc.
False sense of security Strategic planning may also create a false sense of security to the effect that everything is taken for granted. Project managers assume that as long as they work as per plans, it is satisfactory. Therefore they fail to take up timely actions and an opportunity is lost. Employees are more concerned about fulfillment of plan performance rather than any kind of change.