It’s that time of year where process gets real: all the strategic initiatives in your 2017 plan need to turn into active projects.

While late last year it was just top-down management by objectives, now there’s a real expectation on results. Opportunities for cost reduction must be identified and prioritized. Teams need to be assigned. Deadlines set.

The first order of business? Be certain that all the contributing commitments from all of the contributing projects will add up to the top-line objectives. You know what high-level milestones you must meet for business transformation, financial performance or cost reduction. And you know what reaction to expect from your leadership, your shareholders or the market.

Our first requirement for the beginning of the year: Provide a monthly or quarterly high-level overview of all the contributions from all projects.

This alone is not an easy task. It’s critical, though, because you do not want to get lost in an Excel spreadsheet inferno, which will only compound itself as the year goes on. We regularly see companies with overarching strategic initiatives that serve as an umbrella to coordinate hundreds or thousands of projects. And this simple dashboard or scoreboard exercise can become a real burden.

Do you really want to dedicate energy on spreadsheet formatting and Sharepoint repositories instead of focusing on the core elements of the projects? Unlikely. This consolidation effort is not where the battle is won. Energy should be focused on kicking off projects, becoming more agile in making decisions, staffing projects with the best teams, and making sure there is no duplication of effort. That’s how you gain confidence on your ability to deliver and execute your plan.  

It’s important to settle any questions the scoreboard, process and people early. Because pretty soon the questions will become more difficult: it will be about whether your projects are delivering the expected results or not, where to accelerate investment and where to pause it. Pilots will be expanded or closed down.

Without a scoreboard, you don’t have a chance of answering any of these questions. However, if you do gain a real-time view of project commitments, and an accurate and shared view of progress, attention can shift to the value of the work and the impact on the business—as it should!

Cedric Fiederer is the head of consulting at One2Team. His team implements dozens of One2Team instances each year. However, his primary focus is on operational excellence and quickly taking enterprise programs to the next stage of program maturity.

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