4 differences between strategy execution and project management


In all businesses, there is a time to plan for doing projects and executing strategies. In my experience, I have seen many meetings that leaders are confused in approaching and differentiating these two topics.

Let me explain more by an example. Imagine that you are providing a product and for this specific product you would like to define USPs (Unique selling propositions). After studying the market, doing customer surveys and understanding the competition it is the time to implement your theories and to bring them to reality.

Here are questions for you! Are you going to approach this task as a project or as a strategy? How should you differentiate them? What is the difference, actually?

If you would like to specifically work on the current product and implement the USPs on it then this is project management. why? Because your product, similar to others, has five steps as development, introduction, growth, maturity and decline. The same with this product, once you start producing it eventually the USPs will reach growth, maturity and then the lifecycle of the product and the needs for those USPs end.

But if you would like to develop the next generation of this product and if you would like to continue planning for development the USPs for the upcoming products based on a clear direction then you have a long-term plan and this is not project management but strategy execution.

The above explanation makes the following differences easier:

1. End Point:

Project management has an end point where the lifecycle of the project comes to an end and you can close the chapter hopefully by success ;-)

But strategy execution goes on as long as you have plans for revenue generating, business development and etc.

2. PMO and Scorecard:

For managing a project you need to establish a Project Management Office (PMO) while for executing a strategy you need to develop your Balanced Scorecard.

3. Level of leadership (Stakeholders):

In project management based on the size of project, C-levels may not get involved necessarily but in strategy execution the entire company has a share to make the success.

4. Impact and results:

The final results of a project may touch one or few departments but the impact of the strategy execution touches the entire organization.

In the beginning, this issue may seem too simple to be considered but in reality when we roll up our sleeves to take action then only the topic may waste our time by explaining each one's perception.