Alternative scenarios for the future of the project management industry


By Alan Stretton and Terence Blythman



This paper discusses possible project management futures in the context of both programs and projects. Two apparently conflicting perspectives/ scenarios have been evolving in the program/ project industry, and these look set to influence this industry well into the future.

The first scenario is that the management of projects and programs will continue on its historic journey of becoming increasingly specialised. Proponents of this scenario focus on unique aspects of the program/ project disciplines, and on retaining and continuing to develop a distinctive profession of program/ project management. Some benefits of, and problems arising from, this scenario are discussed. One particular problem with this scenario is that the world at large, including most organisations, will probably continue to regard program/ project management as they do now – as simply a useful tool, and/or as a specialist, execution-only avocation, which has little substantive material to contribute to mainstream management at large.

The other scenario, which has been gaining increased (although still limited) coverage in recent times, is that programs and projects are being increasingly integrated into the management of organisations at large. Proponents of this scenario see a continuation of a trend for program/ project managers to become increasingly involved in “front-end” management activities (e.g. organisational strategic planning, project definition, etc) right through the delivery end (implementation/ utilisation of program/ project outcomes). In this scenario, project managers would become more involved in broader management processes, with program/ project management methods becoming increasingly incorporated into those of general management.

It seems most likely that these two scenarios will continue to co-exist for some time. Will they continue to diverge, or will some sort of amalgamation or balance ensue? What appears to be needed is a balance, but how might a balanced outcome be achieved? It seems too early to hazard a reasoned prognostication. Much will probably depend on how the project management industry matures. In the meantime, wider recognition that there are these two different scenarios might help move the industry towards developing more balanced approaches. It is hoped that this paper may help in this by drawing attention to current imbalances.


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About the Authors

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].

Terence Blythman


Melbourne, Australia

Terence Blythman is an award winning Project Manager and Principal Consultant with MetaPM in Melbourne, Australia. He provides strategic Project Management support to clients on Project, Program and Portfolio Management, specialising in construction, procurement and ICT infrastructure, and has a long history of delivering successful projects within Government and Private industry. Terence has a Masters in Project Management, majoring in Sustainable Development from Bond University, Gold Coast Australia. He is a certified Practitioner in Prince2, MSP and P30, and has recently presented at and chaired a round table discussion on the Future of Project Management at the 2012 PMoZ conference. He is a member of the Australian Project Management Association (AIPM).   email:  [email protected].

MetaPM is a dedicated Project Management business specialising in the improvement of organisational Project Management Capability. As thought leaders in the Project Management Industry, MetaPM provide businesses with advice, support and training to assist them to achieve consistent and attainable Project Management Success. http://www.metapm.com.au.