The Evolution of Programme Management

Towards Governance of Industry 4.0 Organisations



Dr Pieter Steyn and  Elzabe Zovitsky

Cranefield College

Pretoria and Western Cape, South Africa



  1. Introduction

Steyn and Semolic (2017, March) aver that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) is characterised by increasing digitisation and interconnection of products, value chains and business models. Competitiveness no longer depends solely on optimisation of own resources, but total inter-organisational value chain innovativeness and supportive partner technologies, products, services and systems. With the aid of partners, organisations are co-creating innovative inter-organisational value and supply chains that operate in a local, regional and international collaborative business ecosystem.

The complexity of today’s technologies, artificial intelligence, mass data, robotics and internet of things calls for specialisation and sustainable collaboration among organisations. Consequently, organisational design, development and governance have entered a challenging new phase. This inevitably requires strategic transformation and change of Industry 4.0 organisations and demands the introduction of new horisontal supply and value chain business models. Virtual value chains shape organisations into strategic, collaborative, value-driven entities where non-core activities are performed by carefully selected partners.

A competitive edge is gained by collaboratively performing strategic activities more effectively and efficiently. This approach demands exceptional governance, supported by transformational leadership excellence and a systemic knowledge of applied programme management. Effective and efficient cross-functional and inter-organisational programme management of projects and programmes in virtual networks is a critical enabling competency for the Industry 4.0 economy. The advantages of programme management have become profoundly important in the Fourth Industrial Revolution economy.

In research done towards a Master’s degree at Cranefield College, Zovitsky (2014) avers that by 1990 organisations already realised that competitiveness had become the driving force to win customer orders in project work. Competitiveness entails developing a business model that embeds sound project management methodologies and techniques. Organisations realised that competency in project management constituted a primary input in planning and executing strategy with the ultimate purpose of creating sustainable competitive advantage. This required strong leadership initiative and support, and a firm belief that project management contributed to the bottom line of the organisation.

Rothwell (1994) identified that during the 1970’s and 1980’s organisations reoriented research and development (R&D) management to consolidate, readjust costing and shorten the path between knowledge and new technologies. Moreover, they started utilising matrix organisational structures. This ultimately led to incorporating project, programme and portfolio management into R&D management thinking. The focus was transferred from the product to the entire business system. Planning, production and product marketing were integrated into the entire process that enhanced systems, flexible innovation processes and networking models with customers and suppliers. This development was the forerunner of what is experienced today where leaders in the Industry 4.0 economy learning organisations focus on collaboration and the creation of virtual networks of partners to be more effective and efficient.

From the year 2000 project management maturity models and mechanisms assisted organisations to achieve rapid performance improvement. Several integrating mechanisms such as creating a formal hierarchy; standardising organisational policies and procedures; and introducing cross-functional teams emerged. These mechanisms were the forerunners of cross-functional project and programme-managed value chain structures utilised in modern day learning organisations.

  1. Early Period Literature

Stretton (2009:3) argues that the terminologies ‘programme’ and ‘project’ have been used interchangeably since the 1960s and particularly in the US Department of Defence and NASA. There was no definite distinction between the usage of ‘programmes’ and ‘projects’ at that time, and large projects were often described as programmes. According to Weaver (2007), the Manhattan initiative to create the atomic bomb in the 1940s was probably the first programme, while since the 1950s numerous programmes crystallised in the US military. Milosevic et al (2007) mention that the Japanese implemented quality improvement programmes long before the United States. Quality project and programme management developed in the United States only in the early 1980s due to a dearth in America of quality management practices, which led to difficulties in competing nationally and internationally.

The 1970s was the period during which the focus moved to project control with the development of computer-based management systems capable of integrating cost, time, and quality. Before that (the 1950s and 1960s) the emphasis was on the time span of projects and ways of reducing it.  The result was that many organisations introduced integrated management systems in the early 1980s, but most of them still failed to deliver successful projects with regard to cost, time, and quality.  According to Harpham (2003 [a]), this resulted in organisations looking for project managers who could manage in a matrix system with minimum “given” authority. The result was that organisations started paying increasingly more attention to the skills of project managers, inter-alia, leadership, motivation and team-building…


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About the Authors

Prof Dr Pieter Steyn

Founder, Director, Principal
Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management
Pretoria & Western Cape, South Africa


Pieter Steyn is Founder and Principal of Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management, a South African Council on Higher Education / Department of Education accredited and registered Private Higher Education Institution. The Institution offers an Advanced Certificate, Advanced Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma, Master’s degree, and PhD in project and programme-based leadership and management. Professor Steyn holds the degrees BSc (Eng), MBA, and PhD in management, and is a registered Professional Engineer.

He was formerly professor in the Department of Management, University of South Africa and Pretoria University Business School. He founded the Production Management Institute of South Africa, and in 1979 pioneered Project Management as a university subject at the post-graduate level at the University of South Africa.

Dr Steyn founded consulting engineering firm Steyn & Van Rensburg (SVR). Projects by SVR include First National Bank Head Office (Bank City), Standard Bank Head Office, Mandela Square Shopping Centre (in Johannesburg) as also, Game City- and The Wheel Shopping Centres (in Durban). He, inter alia, chaired the Commission of Enquiry into the Swaziland Civil Service; and acted as Programme Manager for the Strategic Transformation of the Gauteng Government’s Welfare Department and Corporate Core.

Pieter co-authored the “International Handbook of Production and Operations Management,” (Cassell, London, 1989, ed. Ray Wild) and is the author of many articles and papers on leadership and management. He is a member of the Association of Business Leadership, Industrial Engineering Institute, Engineering Association of South Africa, and Project Management South Africa (PMSA); and a former member of the Research Management Board of IPMA. He serves on the Editorial Board of the PM World Journal. Pieter is also Director of the De Doornkraal Wine Estate in Riversdale, Western Cape.

Professor Steyn can be contacted at [email protected]. For information about Cranefield College, visit www.cranefield.ac.za.


Elzabe Zovitsky

Cranefield College of Project and Programme Management
Pretoria & Western Cape, South Africa

Elzabe Zovitsky
holds a B A Degree (Anthropology) from the University of Pretoria and a Master’s Degree in Programme Management from Cranefield College.

She is Head of the Principal’s office at Cranefield College, where her duties include project and programme management research and administering Cranefield’s specialised and short course programmes.

Before joining Cranefield College in 2006, she was actively engaged in managing anthropology and genealogy projects.  These projects ranged from solving tribal succession disputes in KwaZulu Natal to systemising the genealogies of the Zulu tribes.