Ideally, measures are decided only when the project’s objectives and strategies have been defined. While strategies describe how to proceed in principle, measures are concrete activities derived from these strategies that have a direct reference to particular objectives, defined deadlines and responsibilities. When deciding measures, make sure that they are compatible, effect-oriented and designed to achieve optimal results.
It cannot be taken for granted that objectives will be defined before measures. In practice, the point of departure is often an idea for specific actions that you would like to realize or that have been implemented elsewhere and proven successful. Then, you try to identify objectives that fit the intended measure. With this approach you run the risk of repeatedly applying the same or similar intervention methods, without considering whether other methods might be more appropriate to address challenges and health problems. The advantage of defining objectives and strategies first is that the goals become clear and you can think more flexibly about how to achieve them.
In the early stages of a project, measures can already be defined and recorded in the project design. However, it is not possible to determine deadlines and responsibilities at this point. That can only be done in the implementation phase, as measures are gradually realized, implemented and evaluated – and, where appropriate, adjusted or even abandoned. At the start of each new phase, there is a meeting where measures for the subsequent phase are discussed and planned, always with the overall project objectives in mind. Intermediate objectives, the timeframe for the implementation and the responsibilities of each team member are defined at this point. At the end of each phase, the attainment of intermediate objectives must be checked, and efforts and results compared.
If the project is conducted with the help of the project management tool on quint-essenz, a graph (Gantt diagram) depicting the advancement of measures can be generated at the touch of a button.
Why you would disregard these aspects
- Your whole project has been planned in relation to a particular method or even a specific measure (e.g. launch conferences) and you are trying to fit your objectives to your predetermined procedure.
- You keep to your initial plan for the duration of the project, without asking yourself at regular intervals if the measures you are implementing are having any effect or if you ought to change course.
What you have to gain
- In order to plan, manage and evaluate your project in a effect-oriented way, you must clearly distinguish between objectives, and strategies and measures. In so doing you will avoid the risk of lowering your expectations as soon as your strategies and measures do not yield the expected results. Instead you will adjust the strategies and measures to try to achieve your initial objectives by some other method.
- If your objectives, strategies and measures are compatible with each other you will also work more efficiently.
- The cost of a project is more predictable if measures are defined as specifically as possible.
What you can actually do
When planning your project, make sure you do not mix objectives (what needs changing?), strategies (how can this change be achieved?) and measures (which concrete steps are necessary?). Define your objectives before deciding on concrete measures. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of different strategies carefully. Finally, check that each planned measure serves a specific strategy, and that strategies and objectives correspond.
Questions for critical reflection
- Have you defined first your objectives, then your strategies and finally your measures?
- Are your objectives, strategies and measures coordinated and compatible?
- In your planning, do you propose measures that do not serve an objective, or conversely, are there any objectives that are not served by specific measures?