Further notes on project/program management involvement

in helping choose the “right” project(s)



By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia




In a recent issue of this journal (Stretton 2020d), I discussed organisational strategic implementation problems associated with the separation of organisational strategy formulation (“choosing”) from its implementation (“doing”). In particular, I focused on helping solve this by increasing project management (PM) involvement in choosing the “right” projects to best help achieve the organisation’s strategic objectives. Such involvement appears to be more widespread than the mainstream project management literature generally acknowledges. Stretton 2020d discussed three different ways in which project management has been, and is, already involved in helping choose the “right” project, as follows.

  • Front End Loading (FEL) services provided by EPC-type organisations (Engineering, Procurement, Construction);
  • Client Needs Determination (CND) services provided by Civil & Civic-type organisations;
  • Early internal PM appointments as dedicated Strategic Initiative Managers, to cover all strategic initiative operations, including the initial choice of projects.

This article will be mainly concerned with adding a fourth way in which project/program management has been involved in choosing the “right” projects. It is based largely on the well-known publication of the UK’s Office of Government Commerce, Managing Successful Programmes (OGC 2007), which postulates the early internal appointment of program managers (rather than project managers) to positions which appear to be very similar to those of Strategic Initiative Managers.

This article first establishes some background on the relationships between broad organisational strategic objectives, specific strategic initiatives to achieve those objectives, and projects/programs as components of these initiatives. This is followed by a brief review of the above three types of project/program involvement in helping choose the “right” projects, before going on to discuss the OGC-type extended program management type of involvement in making such choices.

The main purpose of this article (and its predecessor Stretton 2020d), is to discuss four domains in which project/program management has been heavily involved in helping choose the “right” projects, and to alert a wider audience to possibilities for expanding such involvement into other domains, to the benefit of both project management itself, and of organisations undertaking strategic initiatives.


Two usages of the descriptor “strategy”

The word “strategy” tends to be used in two different ways in the literature. One usage is concerned with an organisation’s longer-term strategic objectives, whilst the other refers to individual strategic initiatives undertaken to help achieve those longer-term objectives.

Organisational strategic objectives: Ingason & Jonasson 2019:2 describe these under the heading of strategic planning as

…a systematic attempt to determine the future of an organisation by: (1) identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks in line with the values of an organisation; (2) creating a clear vision for future direction that entails clear goals and (3) outlining the path to be taken to achieve these goals.

Strategic initiatives: refer to action plans “to achieve these goals”, and are part of Ingason & Jonasson’s output of strategic action plans, which (p.3)

…expresses clear and measurable objectives to be reached within a specified time.

Cooke-Davies 2016:259 quotes from PMI 2013 in defining a strategic initiative as

…a project, portfolio of projects, other discrete programme or series of actions undertaken to implement or continue the execution of a strategy, or that is otherwise essential for the successful implementation or execution of a strategy.

Both of the above usages are represented in the following basic organisational strategic management models.



To read entire paper, click here


How to cite this paper: Stretton, A. (2020). Further notes on project/program management involvement in helping choose the “right” project(s); PM World Journal, Volume IX, Issue VI, June. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/pmwj94-Jun2020-Stretton-further-notes-ppm-involvement-in-choosing-right-projects.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/.