2. What’s in a name?


Portfolios, programs and projects in owner-organisations’

strategic and operations management contexts


Series on project-related contributions to organisational objectives

By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia


This is the second of a series of three articles on some particular aspects of what I have described as project-related contributions to organisational strategic management, and to the achievement of organisational strategic objectives.

The first article (Stretton 2022a) gave some background to this series, which I have linked with a shift in focus in the 7th edition of PMI’s Standard for Project Management and a Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMI 2021) from direct governance and management of projects etc., to an enhanced concern with their broader contribution to advancing organisational strategy and the achievement of business objectives – which has also been the focus of many of my articles in this journal in the past few years. I went on to link the organisational strategic management model which I have used in these articles with an abbreviated version of Figure 2-3 from PMI 2021, as shown in the lower section of the basic linked model represented in Figure 2-1 below. I am using this linked model as the reference point for the first two articles.

Figure 2-1: An abbreviated version of a linked basic organisational strategic management model

The first article of the series was concerned with some long-existing project-related supplier organisation services to owner organisations in the context of this linked basic strategic and operations management model of the latter. It particularly focused on their contribution to the first two stages, which gets little coverage in the mainstream project management literature.

This second article will switch to internal arrangements within the owner organisation, and the contributions of portfolio, programs and projects to the context of this linked model. In particular, it will focus on the variety of different meaning which are given to each of these three descriptors in the project management world, and discuss how they might be best described to adequately indicate the nature of their particular contribution.

We start by expanding Figure 2-1 to show various possible combinations of portfolios, programs and projects in the context of the organisational strategic management model.


It can be seen in Figure 2-1 above that the contribution from PMI’s Figure 2-3 comprises only the broad headings Portfolios, and Programs and projects. However, PMI’s Figure 2-1. Example of a system for value delivery, has presented a variety of combinations of these three, which I have substituted for the broader headings, as shown in Figure 2-2.

Figure 2-2: Substituting combinations of portfolios/ programs/projects based on PMI’s Figure 2-1

for the basic headings in the lower section of Figure 2-1 above

In relation to its Figure 2-1, PMI 2021:8 says,

Figure 2-1 shows an example of a system to deliver value that has two portfolios comprised of programs and projects. It also shows a stand-alone program with projects and stand-alone projects not associated with portfolios or programs.

It can be seen that portfolios are not included in some organisational strategic management processes, as will be further discussed later.


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this paper: Stretton, A. (2021). 2. What’s in a name? Portfolios, programs and projects in owner-organisations’ strategic and operations management contexts, Series on Project-related contributions to organisational objectives; PM World Journal, Volume XI, Issue II, February. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/pmwj114-Feb2022-Stretton-whats-in-a-name-project-related-contributions-to-organizational-objectives-series-article2.pdf

About the Author

Alan Stretton, PhD     

Faculty Corps, University of Management
and Technology, Arlington, VA (USA
Life Fellow, AIPM (Australia)


Alan Stretton is one of the pioneers of modern project management.  He is currently a member of the Faculty Corps for the University of Management & Technology (UMT), USA.  In 2006 he retired from a position as Adjunct Professor of Project Management in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, which he joined in 1988 to develop and deliver a Master of Project Management program.   Prior to joining UTS, Mr. Stretton worked in the building and construction industries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA for some 38 years, which included the project management of construction, R&D, introduction of information and control systems, internal management education programs and organizational change projects.  He has degrees in Civil Engineering (BE, Tasmania) and Mathematics (MA, Oxford), and an honorary PhD in strategy, programme and project management (ESC, Lille, France).  Alan was Chairman of the Standards (PMBOK) Committee of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) from late 1989 to early 1992.  He held a similar position with the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), and was elected a Life Fellow of AIPM in 1996.  He was a member of the Core Working Group in the development of the Australian National Competency Standards for Project Management.  He has published over 230 professional articles and papers.  Alan can be contacted at alanailene@bigpond.com.au

To see more works by Alan Stretton, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/alan-stretton/