Organizational strategic plans, projects, and strategic outcomes


Series on increasing project management contributions to helping achieve broader ends
Article 3 of 4

By Alan Stretton

Sydney, Australia


In the project management world, all too often the project is viewed as an end in itself. The focus is usually on delivering planned project outputs. However, this viewpoint loses sight of the bigger picture. It is virtually always the case that projects are really only part of a means to help achieve broader ends. If we focus more on the latter, opportunities can emerge to increase the contributions project managers can make towards the achievement of such ends. I believe it is important for the project management industry to understand and embrace this broader context, because it provides a platform for project managers to add more value to customers. This series looks at how project management can add value through three mechanisms.

  • Helping convert project outputs to actual realisation of customers’ planned business (or equivalent) outcomes;
  • Helping customers determine their business needs, plan for appropriate outcomes, and establish requirements of projects to help realise these outcomes;
  • Helping organizations determine their strategic objectives, plan for achieving them, and develop an appropriate portfolio of projects to help such achievement.

The first two articles of the series (Stretton 2016b,c) addressed the first two bullet points. This third article is concerned with the last bullet point.


In the previous articles I discussed project outputs and customers’ outcomes, and customers’ needs and project requirements. Both were essentially concerned with individual projects and their customers. However, in a broader organizational context, these can be seen as components of organisational strategic planning activities, which generally include developing portfolios of projects to help achieve strategic goals. This article is concerned with such strategic planning processes.

But first we distinguish between two different types of organisations.


As will be noted in all four articles of this series, there are two quite different types of organizations that plan and execute projects. I follow Cooke-Davies 2002 in describing them as project-based and production-based organizations, and borrow from Archibald et al 2012 (who use different descriptors) in defining them:

  • Project-based organizations derive most (if not all) of their revenue and/or other benefits from creating and delivering projects.
  • Production-based organizations derive most (if not all) of their revenue and/or benefits from producing and selling products and services. They utilize projects to create or improve new products and services, enter new markets, or otherwise improve or change their organizations.

As will be seen in more detail in later discussions, the scope of involvement by project managers in project-based organisations is normally far greater than in production-based organisations.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles on general management principles applied to project management is by Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon), Life Fellow of AIPM (Australia), a pioneer in the field of professional project management and one of the most widely recognized voices in the practice of program and project management.   Long retired, Alan is still accepting some of the most challenging research and writing assignments; he is a frequent contributor to the PM World Journal. See his author profile below.



About the Author

pmwj36-Jul2015-Stretton-PHOTOAlan 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 160 professional articles and papers. Alan can be contacted at [email protected].

To see more works by Alan Stretton, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/alan-stretton/.