Further thoughts on Pells’ 2021 suggestion


for broader, more comprehensive

life cycle models for

program/project management



By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia


This article looks further at Pells 2021 series of editorials entitled “Project management needs a higher purpose”, and particularly at a major section in the third editorial (Pells 2021c) on “Doing the right projects”, in which he suggests that this could be enhanced by extensions into a broader life cycle model for program/project management (PPM). The following quotation from his discussions is the main topic of ensuing discussions.

The identification and selection of projects represent the front end of a broader, more comprehensive lifecycle model for program/project management. On the back end, post project, the focus in the last ten years has been on project outcomes and benefits, ultimately the critical determinants of project success.                                                          (Pells 2021c)


These “further thoughts” explore some issues that occurred to me in exploring possibilities for extending both the “front end” and “back end of potential broader life cycles for PPM.

This article first looks at a question raised by Dalcher 2019 about “Whose life cycle is it anyway?”, and briefly discusses various types of life cycles, most of which are more “sequences” than “cycles” – including the project life cycle (PLC). However, whatever “PLC” model is chosen, we need a framework for discussing its potential expansion into “front end” and “back end” contexts. To do this, we first turn to the next contextual level – that of the organisation undertaking the projects – which will be represented by two forms of an organisational strategic and operations management framework.

We will first look at the “front end”, in the context of a linear organisational strategic management model. We discuss the role of some project-related supplier organisations which have extended their PLCs into this zone, and which then have the capability to help owner organisations with strategic support services, including project identification and/ or selection. However, comparatively few organisations elect to do this, which may suggest that partnering with specialist strategic management service providers could be more practical than extending the broad scope of most PLCs to include the “front end”.

We then turn to the context of the “back end”, in which we first transpose the linear organisational strategic management model into a recursive format, and then add an organisation operations management sector. This sector will include examples of users converting project outputs to outcomes, and note that it is the users of project outputs who are ultimately responsible for achieving outcomes and benefits, and not PPM.  However, PPM can, and does, quite often help users achieve their outcomes.

These circumstances are then seen to suggest that partnering with users of project outputs appears to be a much more practical way for PPM to contribute at the “back end”, than trying to broadly extend the scope of its PLCs into this sector.

We conclude discussions on extending the PLC to the “front” and “back” ends by compacting and augmenting an earlier figure, and then identifying pre-project, project, and post-project zones, thus summarising some of the contextual aspects of the above.

Finally, we return to another related theme in Pells 2021c section on “Doing the right projects”, namely his belief that “The impact on the environment and society must be considered – for ALL projects”.  In response to this, I venture to represent the compacted recursive organisational management model within very broad stakeholder and environmental levels, using a model I developed in Stretton 2022g.


The question as to what type of model we could be considering in the context of possible extensions to life cycles might seem a slightly off-beat way to start these discussions, but it is not a totally trivial question. There are two relevant attributes to be considered…


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this work: Stretton, A. (2022). Further thoughts on Pells’ 2021 suggestion for broader, more comprehensive life cycle models for program/project management, commentary, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue VIII, August. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/pmwj120-Aug2022-Stretton-further-thoughts-on-life-cycle-models.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 240 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/


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