Increasing project management (PM) contributions to “front ends”


Possibilities for PM to add early value to

strategic outcomes by more direct involvement

in organisational strategic initiation processes



By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia


Project management contributions to post-project-delivery outcomes/ success

Some of my recent articles in this journal article have been concerned with “project success” (Stretton 2023n), and with “project outcomes” (Stretton 2023j,k). These have been primarily associated with post-project-delivery outcomes, and corresponding successes associated with the achievement of favourable outcomes. As Pells noted in 2021, there has been an increasing project management focus in the last ten years on project outcomes and benefits. However, the broad thrust of my discussions in the above articles has been a cautionary one. I commented that too much of the literature still basically ignores the key role of customers/users in achieving their outcomes, whilst implying that project management has a much bigger role in actively achieving post-delivery outcomes than actually happens in practice.

Potential for project management to add pre-execution value to outcomes

However, there is another side to the outcomes coin which receives scant attention in much of the mainstream project management literature. This side of the coin relates to the pre-project-execution stages in which strategic outcomes are established in the first place. Our enquiry here will be about the potential for project management to add value to such outcomes by involvement in processes related to their being established.

It is rather obvious that, if the “right” strategic outcomes are not established in the first place, the chances of them contributing satisfactorily to the achievement of the broad organisational strategic objectives are severely jeopardised. It will then be necessary to make the “right” choice of strategic initiatives, and their component projects, to best facilitate achievement of these outcomes. Further, in the context of this article, the requirements of these component projects will then need to be properly specified.

The key importance of making good decisions in these initiating stages is obvious. How well placed is project management to facilitate making better decisions in these domains? This question receives scant attention in most key project management “standards” and the like. However, there is quite substantial material in the more general project management literature, to which we will be referring in the following investigations of opportunities for project management to value-add to outcomes in these pre-project-execution stages.


A basic organisational strategic management framework

I will start with looking at processes in which strategic outcomes are initiated within a five-stage basic organisational strategic framework which I have been using for some time. As Booth 2018 has pointed out, there is no universal ‘standard’ set of processes for strategic management. However, the framework summarised in Figure 1 below appears to have stood the test of time and scrutiny by others quite well, so it may be reasonably representative of many strategic management contexts.

The basic headings of these five stages will be used as a framework, to which I will add stages which will be primarily concerned with the place of projects in this context. This will provide a basis for discussing potential opportunities for project management to add value in pre-project-execution stages. The basic stages of this framework are as follows…


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How to cite this work: Stretton, A. (2024).  Increasing project management (PM) contributions to “front ends”: Possibilities for PM to add early value to strategic outcomes by more direct involvement in organisational strategic initiation processes, PM World Journal, Vol. XIII, Issue I, January. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/pmwj137-Jan2024-Stretton-Increasing-project-management-contributions-to-front-ends-2.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 250+ 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/.