Managing inter-project coordination within programs


By Alan Stretton

Sydney, Australia


A key program/project management standard says that “an essential program management responsibility is the identification, rationalisation, monitoring, and control of the interdependencies between projects”. Yet the management of interdependencies between projects is seldom addressed as a separate issue in the literature. Most of the relevant materials that do exist are generally intermingled with discussions of wider issues of program management, and are therefore rather anonymously represented.

This paper assembles materials on inter-project coordination from the two most widely used standards on program management, and adds some materials from other sources in the literature. This assemblage indicates that, whilst some areas of project interdependency management are reasonably well represented, many others are not.

It indicates that there are apparent opportunities to develop more comprehensive, and distinctively represented, materials on the management of inter-project coordination.

An unanswered question is whether such development is likely to enhance the quality and utility of the literature on program management. I argue that the answer is “Yes”. 


An essential program management responsibility is the identification, rationalisation, monitoring, and control of the interdependencies between projects;… (PMI 2006a:7) 

This quotation very clearly indicates that management of interdependencies between component projects is an essential component of program management. This appears to be incontestable, and flows naturally from most definitions of programs, which invariably include the attribute of comprising interdependent component projects. 


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About the Author

flag-australiaalan-stretton-bioAlan 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 120 professional articles and papers.  Alan can be contacted at [email protected].