Increasing project management involvement

in the initial choice of projects



By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia




In the last issue of this journal (Stretton 2020c) I discussed how many organisations have difficulties in successfully implementing their strategies, and then looked in some detail at causes of failure to effectively implement organisational strategy, and the contributions of so-called “project” failures to these.

One of the major causes of such difficulties which emerged from the above was the separation of strategy formulation (‘choosing’) from its implementation (‘doing’). I represented this situation in the context of an organisational strategic management framework as follows.

Figure 1: An organisational strategic management framework

In this representation, strategy formulation is undertaken by strategic planners, and implementation by project managers and others. Handover from the former to the latter generally takes place at some point in Stage 3, which for current purposes I have labelled, in square brackets, as Handover Stage.

One of the particular consequences of this was highlighted in Stretton 2020c, namely that project management generally is not involved in the initial choice of projects, which are major components of the strategic initiatives developed, evaluated and chosen in Stage 2.

I further argued that it would seem both logical and prudent to engage project managers in helping in estimating the costs of the project component of strategic initiatives in Stage 2, and in their evaluation and choice. None-the-less, under most circumstances project management does not normally become involved until some point in Stage 3, after the strategic initiatives and their project components have been chosen.

However, in some previous articles in this journal I have discussed two prominent ways in which project management has become involved in the strategic formulation stages, and thence in helping choose the “right” projects. In both cases this has been associated with services provided by external project-related organisations (Supply Organisations, or SOs), which have expanded the range of their services beyond traditional project management to include this broader domain in their services to Owner Organisations (OOs). I will summarise these two types of SO services before going on to discuss the following.

In many (if not most) cases, Owner Organisations do not engage the above types of SO services, and must therefore address issues relating to the separation of strategy formulation from its implementation with their own in-house resources. This article goes on to discuss this issue, and proposes the appointment of dedicated strategic initiative managers to facilitate the integration of the two – a proposal which also has some precedence in practice. It also suggests an opportunity for project management to extend its scope into this role.

We start with short summaries of the two types of external project-related SO services indicated above – which are described as Extended project management services and Generalist EPC-type services.


I discussed these in some detail in Stretton 2020b, and represented their relationship with the organisational strategic management framework broadly as follows (here described as Extended generalist project-related services).



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How to cite this paper: Stretton, A. (2020). Increasing project management involvement in the initial choice of projects; PM World Journal, Volume IX, Issue IV, April. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/pmwj92-Apr2020-Stretton-Increasing-PM-involvement-in-choosing-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/.


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