Programs, ‘standalone’ & ‘component’ projects, and perceptions of scope of project management applicability

By Alan Stretton



This paper first discusses initiation of programs and their ‘component’ projects, and of ‘standalone’ projects. Few writers specifically distinguish between ‘standalone’ and ‘component’ projects. This can, and does, result in misinterpretation and/or confusion, and an example is given. To avoid this, it is contended that in many (if not most) contexts, writers should specify which type of project they are discussing.

The paper then moves on to a discussion of two different perspectives in the literature on the scope of project management. One is a traditional ‘narrow’ perspective, which focuses on project execution. The other is a ‘broader’ perspective, which adds involvement in managing front-end, delivery-end, and factors external to execution.

A model is then developed which links ‘component’ and ‘standalone’ projects with ‘narrow’ and ‘broader’ perspectives of the scope of project management. The ‘broader’ perspective (which is linked to the whole project development cycle), is associated with ‘standalone’ projects. The ‘narrow’ perspective (linked with the execution phase of the project development cycle) is associated with ‘component’ projects. A somewhat similar distinction is made in relation to the management of external factors.

It is concluded that ‘broader’ perspectives of the scope of project management are particularly appropriate for ‘standalone’ projects, whilst ‘narrow’ perspectives are more appropriate for ‘component’ projects of programs.


This paper first discusses differences between ‘standalone’ projects and ‘component’ projects of a program. Generalised statements about project management are often valid for one, but not the other, and this frequently causes confusion, as is exampled.

The paper then moves to a second topic, which involves two different perceptions in the literature about the scope of project management. One perception is a relatively ‘narrow’ execution-focused perspective, whilst the other ‘broader’ perception adds  management of front-end and delivery-end activities, and of external factors.

Finally, the paper develops links between these two topics.


To read entire paper (click here)


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 100 professional articles.  Alan can be contacted at [email protected].