Strategic Program Management


Key to “giga” Program Delivery



By Bob Prieto

Jupiter, Florida, USA

Across many markets we are seeing dramatic growth in the scale and complexity of capital construction programs. Like all programs, these consist of a series of discrete but closely coupled projects that when taken in their entirety enable an owner to meet a set of well-defined strategic objectives.  And just as we saw a set of non-linear scaling effects come into play as we scaled up from programs with total installed cost in the 100’s of millions to the low single digit billion range (so called mega programs) so too are we seeing a new set of non-linear scaling effects come into play as we scale up to programs in the tens of billions. I have referred to this new scale of programs as “giga” programs to highlight the differences from current day mega programs.

“Giga” programs bring new challenges in many regards but like mega programs the two principal vectors are those with respect to the management of a step change in scale and a more exponential change in complexity as the number of interfaces and opportunities for impact grows in a decidedly non-linear way. But “giga” programs also bring new opportunities, with the principal ones being associated with the dramatically increased leverage these programs afford an owner.

Strategic Program Management is about understanding the differences between “giga” and “mega” programs and more importantly critically understanding the core elements of successful program delivery and how they may change and how they must relate to each other in the delivery of “giga” programs. Most importantly, “giga” programs require the owner and his program manager to re-examine their roles and together make the changes in focus, people, processes and systems required to achieve success in the delivery of a “giga” program.

To illustrate some of the challenges and opportunities present in “giga” programs, some “stories” from the strategy phase work done on several “giga” programs are captured below.

Story #1 – Sweat the Small Stuff – Details Matter

In developing a project execution strategy for a large, global private client we reviewed current design and construction practices as part of our familiarization process for development of a delivery strategy for a new “giga” program. The existing work as well as the new program was sited in a remote, costly, labor constrained and environmentally harsh setting.

During observations we repeatedly passed one operation as we traveled back and forth to different projects within the current “mega” program. This operation involved a two-man crew bolting up a large hopper. Over the course of the day, we would see one of the men walking a kilometer down the road to a warehouse to retrieve additional nuts, bolts and replacement tools. It became evident that what was taking place was less than optimal, so we stopped to watch the operation.


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Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally published in the July 2009 edition of the PM World Today eJournal. It is republished here with the author’s permission.

How to cite this paper: Prieto, R. (2023, 2009). Strategic Program Management: Key to “giga” Program Delivery; Originally published in PM World Today, Vol XI, Issue VII, July 2009; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue X, October 2023. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/pmwj134-Oct2023-Prieto-strategic-program-management-key-to-giga-program-delivery-2nd-ed.pdf

About the Author

Bob Prieto

Chairman & CEO
Strategic Program Management LLC
Jupiter, Florida, USA


Bob Prieto is a recognized leader within the engineering and construction industry; a board-level executive; and a large complex program management expert.

Bob Prieto is currently Chairman & CEO of Strategic Program Management LLC focused on strengthening engineering and construction organizations and improving capital efficiency in large capital construction programs.

Previously Bob was a senior vice president of Fluor focused on the development, delivery and turnaround of large, complex projects worldwide across the firm’s business lines, and Chairman of Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Bob’s board level experience includes Parsons Brinckerhoff (Employee owned) – Chairman; Cardno (ASX listed) – Non-executive director; Mott MacDonald (Employee owned) – Independent Member of the Shareholders Committee; Dar al Riyadh Group (Family owned) – Non-executive director.

Bob consults with owners of large, complex capital asset programs in the development of programmatic delivery strategies encompassing planning, engineering, procurement, construction, financing, and enterprise asset management. He has assisted engineering and construction organizations improve their strategy and execution and has served as an executive coach to a new CEO.

He is the author of nine books, 950 papers and National Academy of Construction Executive Insights, and an inventor on 4 issued patents.

Bob’s industry involvement includes ASCE Industry Leaders Council, National Academy of Construction and Fellow of the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA). He serves on the New York University Abu Dhabi Engineering International Advisory Council and previously served as a trustee of Polytechnic University and the Millennium Challenge Corporation Advisory Board.

Bob served until 2006 as one of three U.S. presidential appointees to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC). He chaired the World Economic Forum’s Engineering & Construction Governors and co-chaired the infrastructure task force in New York after 9/11.

Bob serves as an honorary global advisor for the PM World Journal and Library and can be contacted at rpstrategic@comcast.net.