Revisiting types of relationships between a program’s component projects


By Alan Stretton 

Sydney, Australia


In a previous paper I identified some twenty different types of relationships that can occur between a program’s interdependent component projects, derived from the literature. These were then classified into three main groups, based broadly on a classification of ways in which a program’s projects can be organized, proposed by Maylor et al 2006.

However, this particular way of classifying inter-project relationships did not appear to be particularly useful when I began to think about the management of such relationships. In addition, I wasn’t happy with some of my decisions about which group to put certain relationships into, which had a somewhat arbitrary element. I therefore looked for another way of grouping these relationships which might be more useful.

This paper develops a simple two-type classification of inter-project interdependencies, which I have termed transactional, and change-related. The management of transactional interdependencies covers the normal vicissitudes which invariably occur in the quite complicated environment of programs and their interdependent component projects. At a different level, change-related interdependencies include the management of significant changes in the program, and dealing with consequent escalated issues among the projects that comprise the program, including those which are often the subject of risk management activities.

Hopefully this simple two-type classification may be useful to those who may be interested in developing more detailed materials on the management of inter-project interdependencies.


In a paper in PM World Today (Stretton 2012c), entitled Program management: Types of relationships between a program’s component projects, I began by noting that there is widespread agreement in the literature that a primary component of the program management task is the coordinated management of its related component projects. I then derived some twenty different types of relationships between component projects from four primary sources. These were then grouped into three categories (following a classification suggested by Maylor et al 2006) into predominantly independent projects, partially inter-dependent projects, and substantially inter-dependent projects. 


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About the Author

flag-australiaalan-strettonAlan 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].