4 Signs That Project Managers and Business Managers Aren't Aligned

April 29, 2022 / by Frederid Palacios

Aligning project management with business management is crucial to the success of an organization. As an organization, all projects should come together to meet your overarching business goals. If otherwise, the goals of your project are essentially futile, costing time and money. As such, you must recognize the signs that your project and business managers aren’t cohesive so that you can get them realigned. 

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Signs of Misalignment


1. Ambiguous Project Direction


Identifying the signs of misalignment between project managers and business managers is the first step in reconciliation so that you can more effectively meet your goals. One of the first signs of a misalignment between these teams is an ambiguous project management direction. 

As a project manager, it is crucial that the goals for your project are clear and explicitly communicated. Each project should have outlined objectives with deadlines and milestones, all leading to a common goal. If these details are unclear to team members, it is unlikely that projects will meet their deadlines or satisfy client expectations. 

Ambiguous project directions often result in:

  • Surprises. Surprises occur when a project team has been committed to a task without their knowledge. Once the team finds out, it may be too late to complete the task, resulting in delayed deadlines, wasted resources, or unsatisfied clients. These surprises most often occur when business managers fail to communicate an expectation with project managers. 
  • Confusion. Suppose project managers are having a discussion with business managers and realize that they aren’t aware of what is being discussed or that your expectations are different. In that case, it is likely that a significant piece of information was not communicated. If this confusion is not resolved early on, it will likely have adverse effects on the project, such as failing to complete a critical task. 
  • Emergencies. When surprises and confusion occur, emergencies are typically quick to follow. If project managers are frequently experiencing emergencies, like when something must be done by end of day at short notice or must unexpectedly be done over the weekend, the odds are that it is due to a miscommunication between managers early on. A project on the right track should not often require team members to drop everything and switch gears. 

2. Underutilized Resources


Resource allocation and capacity planning are critical aspects of any project or organizational goal. With each resource comes significant expenses, so they must be used wisely and to the fullest extent. If a project ends and resources have not been fully utilized, people and resources are left idle, and businesses lose money. 

The underutilization of resources often occurs when project and business managers fail to communicate clearly or align their goals. Even worse, it could mean that a crucial aspect of the project was missed or left incomplete. If this occurs frequently and at high levels, it is a clear sign of misalignment between managers. 


3. Low Company Performance


Another highly telling sign of misalignment within an organization is low company performance at a high cost. There is no question that running a successful business is expensive, so when performance fails at a high cost, it is not a positive sign for the company's future. If projects fail to align with overall business goals and strategies, performance will likely falter, even with the significant investment poured into each project. 

Each activity and project within an organization should support high-level organizational goals and the business's overall vision. Pouring money into siloed projects is ineffective and will fail to help the company achieve its goals, resulting in high costs with little to show for it. 


4. A Decline in Project Success


Similar to low company performance, a major decline in project success is another significant sign that your project managers and business managers are not aligned with one another. While it is vital that your projects contribute to organizational goals, they cannot do so successfully if they fail. 

The leading reason for declines in project success is a lack of alignment with business strategy. Without proper collaboration between managers, projects may not have the right resources, understand their goals, or meet client expectations. Even further, one project may conflict with another project in the organization, further wasting time and resources. For this reason, each project must be in alignment with all other projects and overarching business goals. 


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Why Alignment Matters


There is no question that misalignment between project and business managers is a significant issue. Without proper alignment, organizations will experience project failure, resulting in high costs and wasted resources. If the misalignment goes unresolved for too long and the consequences too severe, such misalignment could even result in business failure in the long run. 

Aside from avoiding these risks, aligning project managers with business managers offers countless organizational benefits. With proper communication and collaboration, project managers can confidently lead expensive projects in the right direction, directly contributing to the organization's success. 

When all projects are managed efficiently in alignment, companies can more easily meet their business goals, resulting in greater profits and success. As funds are spent to directly contribute to a business's overall performance, projects are able to minimize costs and increase profitability. 

In addition to improving project performance and business success rates, organizations will also be able to better address customer needs and expectations. By aligning project goals with business goals, each win for a project team is a win for the entire company and thus its customers. As projects are running more efficiently, team members can focus more on the customer experience, significantly improving retention rates and the company’s bottom line. 


Achieving Alignment


So, it is clear that project managers need to be aligned with business managers, but how does an organization achieve this? For many companies, alignment stems from centralization. With a centralized organization-level management team, projects can be made from the start with organizational strategy in mind. 

These team members will be active in both executive-level and project-level planning sessions, ensuring alignment between the two. As such, they can determine what needs to be done for individual projects to meet the organization's needs. With a stake in each project, they can ensure that each project helps to establish the overarching company vision while monitoring progress in accordance with goals. 

With a liaison between executives, project managers, and team members, the misalignment between projects and goals can be significantly reduced if not eliminated. Once projects are completed, the liaison will then report the success in the context of organizational goals, tracking key metrics to evaluate success. 

While misalignment between project and business managers is a significant issue, the solution is simple. By facilitating communication between project managers and company leaders through the help of a liaison, project progress can be monitored through the lens of the entire company. As a result of this newfound alignment, organizations will experience greater success with reduced costs and complications.


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Tags: Project Management

Frederid Palacios

Written by Frederid Palacios

Fred Palacios is a seasoned software architect with more than 20 years of experience participating in the entire software development cycle across a host of different industries--from automotive and services to petroleum, financial, and supply chain. In that time, his experience working closely with high-level stakeholders has provided him with a strategic vision for developing the right solutions to flexibly meet critical business needs. As CTO of Intertec, he's continuing to focus on the creation of business-critical applications for large enterprise projects, particularly those that handle high concurrency and large datasets. He is passionate about using technology as a tool to solve real-world problems and also mentoring technical teams to achieve their maximum potential and deliver quality software.

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