Expanding from conventional project management

into broader types of services in an organisational strategic management context



By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia




In the last issue of this journal (Stretton 2020f) I identified and discussed four domains in which project/program management has been involved in helping choose the “right” projects, some of them over several decades – namely:

  • Early internal PM appointments as dedicated Strategic Initiative Managers;
  • Early internal OGC-type program management appointments in a similar role.
  • C&C-type external provider services, with Client Needs Determination (CND);
  • EPC-type external provider services, as part of Front End Loading (FEL);

I also pointed out that, in addition to facilitating involvement in choosing the “right” projects, the external services and the internal appointments associated with these four domains cover a much broader range of support and responsibilities. I also suggested that the latter suggest that there may be further opportunities for a broader expansion of the scope of project/ program management at large, and signalled an intention to further pursue these discussions.

This article picks up on that previous article, but reviews the domain of expanding from conventional project management into broader types of services in a somewhat different way. For example, it acknowledges that we live in a Covid-19 environment, and suggests how this may influence such opportunities for expansion. With this in mind, we first look at conventional project management in this context.

We will then discuss the first two bullet-pointed topics above in rather more detail, under the heading of expanding project/project management into internal strategic initiative management. We move on to discuss the second two bullet-pointed topics, this time under the heading of external strategic initiative management support services. The latter are often part of an even broader range of external strategic planning support services, which is discussed under this heading.

We will be using an extended summary to pull together many of the issues that emerge from this short coverage of a such a broad topic. It is concluded that demands for these types of expanded services are likely to grow, albeit sometimes in unexpected ways, representing opportunities for further expansion for those already providing such services, and for new entrants into these domains.


The importance of project life cycles in project management

The project life cycle plays a prominent role in project management literature and practice. As Morris 2013:150 puts it.

The life-cycle is fundamental to the management of projects. The only thing that distinguishes projects from non-projects is their project life-cycle.

Dalcher 2019 expands on Morris’ first sentence above, as follows.

The notion of the project life cycle has become a ubiquitous part of the theory and practice of project management to the extent that it often defines and delineates the process, flow, rhythm, dynamics and boundaries of projects. In doing so, it also shapes the discipline and the way we think about projects, organising work and temporary structures.

Dalcher then goes on to discuss and list a large number of benefits associated with using a life cycle approach, which I will not reproduce here. But he also goes on to reflect on the shape, efficacy, and purpose of life cycles, as now broadly discussed.

Some semantic concerns with the descriptor “project life cycle” (PLC)

Many writers, including Dalcher 2019, have questioned the use of the word “cycle”.

There is no cycle in the prevailing models as applied within project management – so why don’t we rename it as the project life sequence?

Morris 2013:150 agrees, but prefers the label “product development sequence”:

Most people use the term ‘the project life-cycle’ but really it is the product development life-cycle, that is, the product development sequence, … In fact, it could be argued that it is often not really a cycle at all, since there is rarely an expectation that once completed, it or the project team will recycle to the front and repeat the process.

Dalcher 2019 also has some issues with the “life” part of the label.

If life implies full life, the traditional project life cycle is a misnomer, as it does not encompass the full life of a project. ……

I have some sympathies with these arguments, for the simple reason that I believe descriptors should give as accurate a picture as possible of what they actually cover – which PLC evidently does not. For reasons that will become more apparent shortly, I prefer the descriptor Project development and delivery sequence to PLC.


To read entire article, click here


How to cite this paper: Stretton, A. (2020). Expanding from conventional project management into broader types of services in an organisational strategic management context; PM World Journal, Volume IX, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/pmwj95-Jul2020-Stretton-Expanding-from-conventional-project-management.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 200 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/.