Program/project management, and responsibilities for achieving outcomes


and/or realising benefits



By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia


This article is an extension to my article in the last issue of this journal (Stretton 2022c). That article discussed the key importance of user groups in converting project outputs to outcomes and benefits, and thence of including them in relevant program/project management (PPM) models. This article looks further at these user groups, with particular concern about who is held responsible for achieving post-output outcomes and benefits. This is examined mainly in the context of the three broad types of strategic initiatives discussed in Stretton 2022c. A particular concern of this article is identifying the part that PPM plays, or does not play, in relation to these responsibilities.

This article was also partly prompted by a recent letter to the editor by Smith 2022, about the 7th Edition of The Standard for Project Management and A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMI 2021), in which he says [his emphases],

….PMI’s new holistic approach broadens the Project Management Team’s scope of responsibilities to encompass effective delivery of Outcomes. ….. encumbering project managers and teams with additional responsibility for Outcome achievement is not only misdirected, but is completely unrealistic; as Outcome attainment is totally beyond their control.                                                       

Smith’s letter has raised a couple of particular points for me. The first is that, whilst I did not interpret PMI’s new approach regarding PPM responsibility for outcomes as being quite as mandatory as Smith implies, I fully empathise with his general thrust. Perhaps we have different interpretations of “enable” in the following quote from PMI 2021: xi

….The Standard for Project Management and the PMBOK Guide emphasise that projects do not simply produce outputs, but more importantly, enable those outputs to drive outcomes that ultimately deliver value to the organization and its stakeholders.

In Stretton 2022c I pointed out there is no mention in this quotation of which users actually do the work to “enable those outputs to drive outcomes”. It is certainly not unreasonable to interpret this quote as implying that PPM does this work. However, it does not say so explicitly, so that other (un-named) users have not been excluded. One aim of this article is to try and clarify who does this work, and who is responsible for achieving outcomes in a variety of contexts.

The second point is that, contrary to Smith’s contention, there are some situations where PPM does have responsibility for achieving outcomes. We will be identifying at least two types of contexts in which this happens as we progress this article.

As noted above, this article is an extension to my article in the last issue of this journal (Stretton 2022c). My aim is to make this current article (which is also a work in progress) reasonably self-contained. I will therefore need to repeat some of the materials from the earlier article, but will try to keep this to a reasonable minimum.

We will start by revisiting differences between two types of organisations that undertake projects – owner organisations (OOs) and supplier organisations (SOs) – which normally have different perceptions of the nature of their outcomes and benefits. We will also review some descriptors and synonyms of project-related outputs, outcomes, and benefits, to help ensure we are all “on the same page”.

We then turn to the penultimate Figure 3-15 in Stretton 2022c, which illustrates in summary form the roles of user groups in three broad chains of project-related strategic initiatives discussed in that article. These three chains will be the primary topics of this examination, which will be mostly concerned with who is held responsible for achieving post-output outcomes and benefits, and particularly the part that PPM plays, or does not play, in relation to these responsibilities.

Whilst these three chains by no means cover all types of situations where project outputs are converted to outcomes and benefits, hopefully they are sufficiently representative to provide a reasonably typical picture of the extent to which PPM does, and does not, have responsibilities for achievement of outcomes and benefits.


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this paper: Stretton, A. (2022). Program/project management, and responsibilities for achieving outcomes and/or realising benefits, Featured Paper; PM World Journal, Volume XI, Issue IV, April. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/pmwj116-Apr2022-Stretton-ppm-and-responsibilities-for-achieving-outcomes-or-benefits.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/