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MOVING FROM CORPORATE STRATEGY

TO PROJECT STRATEGY
PETER W. G. MORRIS, Professor of Construction and Project Management
School of Construction and Project Management, The Bartlett School of
Graduate Studies, University College London

ASHLEY JAMIESON, Research Fellow, School of Construction and Project


Management, The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London

Introduction
ABSTRACT orporate strategy is one of the most actively researched and taught subjects

Much of the management writing around


strategy tends to cover the practices at
the corporate and business level; there is
C in business today. Projects and project management are often quoted as
important means of implementing strategy, but there is some confusion in
the literature on how this happens and, in any case, the topic has not been the sub-
a dearth of writing about how corporate ject of detailed review.
strategy gets implemented by projects This paper reports on research funded by PMI, industry, and academia that
and programs and translated into pro- addressed the way corporate strategy is developed and implemented via the man-
gram or project strategies. This paper agement of portfolios, programs, and projects. It does so by detailing the key find-
reviews evidence from four case studies
together with questionnaire data from
ings from four case studies, together with data from a survey of PMI members.
PMI Europe members, which shows that
the processes, practices, and people Developing Corporate Strategy
issues involved in moving from corporate Corporate strategy is a means of thinking through and articulating how an organi-
strategy to programs and projects is done zation’s corporate goals and objectives will be achieved. This strategy is then typically
in a much more systematic way than is
generally recognized. The findings point
operationalized at a “strategic” business unit [SBU] level; strategic initiatives are then
to areas that future revisions of the often clustered into portfolios of programs and projects for implementation. (The
PMBOK® Guide should be looking at. distinction between programs and projects – and portfolios – is defined shortly.)
Much of traditional management writing tends only to cover the strategic man-
Keywords: corporate strategy; project strat-
egy; portfolio management; program agement processes that formulate and implement strategy at the corporate level (for
management; project management; value example, Thompson, 2001; Mintzberg & Quinn, 1996; Hill & Jones, 2001); there is
management; risk management; leader- a dearth of writing about how corporate strategy gets translated into implementa-
ship; competencies
tion, particularly at the program or project level. Yet, in practice, the two sets of activ-
©2005 by the Project Management Institute ities are well connected; projects and programs are important ways for strategy to be
Vol. 36, No. 4, 5-18, ISSN 8756-9728/03 implemented in the enterprise and we ought to understand much better how this
occurs.
Strategic management is often ambiguous and complex, fundamental and
organization-wide, and generally has long-term implications (Johnson & Scholes,
1997). While the typical corporate planning process is generally ordered and ana-
lytical, strategy management is also a dynamic process. Mintzberg (1996) has dis-
tinguished “deliberate” strategy from that which is “emergent” – that is, becomes
evident as it, and events, emerge with time (Mintzberg & Waters, 1994). This emer-
gence suggests a more incremental approach to strategy formulation and imple-
mentation where results are regularly appraised against benefits and changes are
made and managed against the evolving picture of performance.

D E C E M B E R 2005 Project Management Journal 5


Similarly, the interaction between business management functions. gy. A hierarchy of objectives and strate-
projects or programs and the enter- Research shows, for example, that one gies can generally be formed as a result
prise’s strategy may be both “deliber- of the reasons new product innovation of using a strategy planning process;
ate” (as formal vehicles for strategy projects often fail is because they lack this can be a highly effective means of
implementation, as in capital expendi- wider organizational support structuring and managing strategy, and
ture projects, for example), and “emer- (Wheelwright & Clark, 1992). While communicating it to the organization.
gent” (in that when they are project management practitioners may One such model is Archibald’s hierar-
implemented, they create new condi- think their function is central to the chy of objectives, strategies and projects
tions that, in turn, influence and shape success of a company, it may have little (Cleland, 1990; Archibald, 2003). This
the intended strategy) (Grabher, meaning within the enterprise unless it model proposes that objectives and
2002). Consequently projects and pro- is clearly established and embedded strategies are developed at the policy,
grams often have a two-way relation- within the enterprise’s structure and strategic, operational and project levels
ship with the corporate environment business management models and and cascaded down, thereby ensuring
in which they evolve. And though processes. alignment and continuity of strategy.
there may be formal strategy planning The involvement of some disci- Similarly, Kerzner (2000) shows a hier-
processes and practices, strategy may pline explicitly concerned with the archy where strategic plans are cascad-
not be realized in as rigid or formal a management of projects in strategy ed from corporate strategy to SBUs and
manner as many planners assume. This implementation seems a priori to be from SBUs to supporting plans.
said, however, a formal strategy sensible, if only because of the need of Another model is the Stanford Research
process is important – it brings clarity senior management to have some con- Institute’s “System of Plans”
and discipline. trol over expenditure and intended (Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, & Lampel,
But the role of project manage- action. McElroy (1996) emphasizes 1998).
ment in implementing such strategy is the need for senior management Partington (2000), in distinguish-
often not clear. Crawford (2005), for involvement if project management is ing the three levels of strategy as corpo-
example, found that senior managers to be successful in strategy implemen- rate, business and operational, suggests
believed project managers should not tation, a view shared by Broner, that operational level strategies tend to
be involved in strategy formulation. Ruekert, and Walker (2002). And good focus on programs and projects
Thomas, Delisle, Jugdev, and Buckle governance practice now explicitly (though Shenar and Dvir [2004] define
(2002) found that project manage- requires, among several things, formal the levels slightly differently). However,
ment is seen as strongly execution ori- alignment between business, portfolio, the implications of Archibald’s work
ented and as such is not perceived as program and project plans, and trans- (2003) and Kerzner’s (2000) is that the
strategically important by senior man- parent reporting of status and risks to linkage often starts – or can start – even
agers. Bourgeois and Brodwin (1984) the Board (Association for Project higher: something we shall, in fact, find
proposed that project managers Management [APM], 2004). confirmed in the research reported
should be involved in strategy formu- Senior management involvement here.
lation but are not competent to carry may also be needed for quite opera- Turner (1999) proposes a cascade
out implementation effectively since tional issues. Not all strategy imple- to show how organizations position
they will not have been exposed to the mentation is just downwards from the programs and projects to achieve their
factors that initiate change in projects, corporate level through portfolios to development objectives. As a result of
a view echoed by Englund and programs and projects. Just as in strate- our research we have adapted this
Graham (1999). And there is a grow- gic planning there is upward flow from model to include business strategy and
ing view, at least in the UK, that busi- Strategic Business Units (SBUs), so in portfolios, as shown in Figure 1. This
ness and organizational change implementation there is, as we have said, the model should be treated with
projects are really managed best by seen, management information and caution for it reflects the intended
program management, as defined, for action bearing up from programs and “deliberate” sequencing of movement
example, by the Office of Government projects onto portfolio, business unit from corporate strategy to projects and
Commerce (OGC, 2003), rather than and corporate strategy. For example, a fails to capture the iterative nature of
by project management (Bartlett, fundamental responsibility of project/ emergent information and strategy
1998; Partington, Pellegrinelli, & program management is to manage modification described above.
Young, 2005; Reiss, 1996). the resources needed to define and Artto and Dietrich (2004) outline
It is important that organizations deliver its programs and projects effec- a number of practices for managing
understand properly their business tively. We shall see that resource man- the strategic-portfolio-project linkage
management model and the position agement becomes a critical factor in in multiple project environments.
of project, or program, management moving from corporate strategy into Grundy (1998) too has proposed a
within it; and hence for project man- project implementation. number of techniques to move corpo-
agement to see how they are sit along- Hierarchy is usually important in rate strategy into portfolios, programs
side – and are perceived by – the any discussion of implementing strate- (and projects), such as scenario plan-

6 D E C E M B E R 2005 Project Management Journal


Business Portfolio
Strategy Objectives
Program
Context Portfolio Objectives
Strategy
Project
Program Objectives
Strategy
Phase
Project Objectives
Strategy
Team
Phase Objectives
Strategy
Individual
Team Objectives
Strategy
Individual
STRATEGIC PLANNING FOR PROJECTS Strategy

Source: The Handbook of Project-Based Management, 2nd ed.


J.R.Turner © 1999 Reproduced by kind permission of the Open University Press / McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.
Adapted by Morris and Jamieson (2004).

Figure 1: Linking corporate and project strategy

ning, force-field analysis, stakeholder managed concurrently under a single Linking company strategy to port-
analysis, and “attractiveness/imple- management umbrella, where each folio development is critical, particular-
mentation difficulty” analysis. Indeed, project may be related or independent ly when company strategy involves both
as the case studies reported below of the others (Thiry, 2004; Martinsuo & a high degree of innovation and a high
show, many companies have, in fact, Dietrich, 2002). Archer and rate of growth (Wadlow, 1999).
developed structured approaches for Ghasemzadeh (2004) stress that port- Advances in portfolio selection and
creating and managing strategy via folio management is pre-eminently management practice have been
portfolios, programs, and projects in about selecting – or prioritizing – the notably strong in new product develop-
ways which are integrated with busi- best projects or programs to proceed ment (Archer & Ghasemzadeh, 2004;
ness strategy. with. Project portfolio management, Cooper, Edgett, & Kleinschmidt, 2001),
then, is predominantly about “choos- whereas there is evidence that the top
Portfolios, programs, and projects ing the right project,” whereas project performing businesses display strong
Turner (2000) points out that the management is about “doing the proj- management support for portfolio
majority of projects take place as part of ect right” (Cooke-Davies, 2002, 2004). selection and management, using for-
a portfolio of several projects or pro- Archer and Ghasemzadeh (1999) mal portfolio management methods to
grams. Project portfolio management is have provided a general framework for manage their portfolio strategy within
the art and science of applying a set of project portfolio selection that demon- the context of the enterprise business
knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques strates the need for strategy to be set at strategy (Cooper, Edgett, &
to a collection of projects or programs the corporate level and then filtered Kleinschmidt, 1999). Other examples of
to meet or exceed the needs and expec- down to the project level. portfolio management practice
tations of an organization’s investment Subsequently, they emphasized the employed by a diversity of major com-
strategy (Dye & Pennypacker, 1999). importance of aligning resource panies are given in Cooper, Edgett, and
According to Platje, Seidel, and demand with resource availability to Kleinschmidt (1998). Artto and
Wadman (1994), a project portfolio is achieve a set of strategic goals (Archer & Dietrich (2004) provide examples of
a set of projects that are managed in a Ghasemzadeh, 2004). Knutson (2001) portfolios of different project types and
coordinated way to deliver benefits that points out that the project portfolio an outline of the major types of
would not be possible if the projects management process provides a means methodologies used in portfolio selec-
were managed independently, a view of consistently and objectively evaluat- tion. Shenhar and Dvir (2004) propose a
shared by Artto, Martinsuo, and Aalto ing each proposed project that is vying strategic portfolio classification frame-
(2001). A slightly different – but wide- for a limited pool of resources, thereby work that is based on the need to select
ly accepted – view is that a project port- aiding the process of making the most projects due to their strategic impact and
folio is a collection of projects to be effective strategic use of the resources. to form a policy for project selection.

D E C E M B E R 2005 Project Management Journal 7


Archer and Ghasemzadeh (2004) uncertainty and ambiguity (Thiry, Morris (1997) summarizes the elements of
identify risk and outsourcing as having 2004). Programs and program man- a project strategy based on an analysis of
a particularly strong impact on portfo- agement are frequently used in large many projects in his historical account of
lio selection and management. They organizations to implement strategic the development of project management.
point out that a key criterion for suc- initiatives. The UK Office of The Association for Project Management
cessfully applying risk evaluation in Government Commerce (OGC), for Body of Knowledge (APM BOK) (Dixon,
portfolio selection is that risk assess- example, considers the alignment 2000) gives fuller recognition to the busi-
ment and quantification be uniformly between strategy and projects to be ness context within which the project
applied across all projects and teams, a one of the main benefits of program resides, as well as recognizing portfolio and
requirement now mandated by good management (OGC, 2003) – though program management, and requirements
governance (APM, 2004). this seems rather dated in light of the management. (The business and operating
more recent guidance on good gover- requirements of a project frequently affect
Programs nance (APM, 2004): they require a project strategy significantly and, for this
Program management is a powerful decision management paradigm which reason, the APM BOK identifies require-
way of coordinating projects that have takes into account the appropriate ments as a key project management
a shared business aim and, according strategic perspective. Programs often process (Davis, Hickey, & Zweig, 2004;
to Thiry (2004), is the most suitable have to strive for the achievement of a Stevens, Brook, Jackson, & Arnold, 1997).
methodology for ensuring the success- number of conflicting aims whereas Work by the authors in integrating
ful implementation of strategies, since projects aim to achieve single predeter- what the PMBOK® Guide and the APM
it is subtler and more able to respond mined results (Wijen & Kor, 2000). BOK have to say about the way strategy
to emerging data. Both portfolio man- Projects on the other hand are more shapes project definition shows the large
agement and program management typically seen as concentrating on number of factors involved in creating
focus on prioritizing resources and achieving one single particular result project strategy at the front-end of a proj-
optimizing the business benefit within set time and cost constraints ect (Morris & Jamieson, 2004). This high-
(Bartlett, 1998; Partington, 2004; Reiss, (Görög & Smith, 1999). Many com- lights the need for an effective way to
1996). Program management is more mentators position projects as more manage project strategy creation, covering
involved in day-to-day implementation appropriate for implementing “delib- not only the front end of a project, but the
management than portfolio manage- erate” (planned) strategies, while see- entire project life cycle.
ment, which is more periodic and is ing programs for both deliberate and As the case studies reported below
strongly analytical. Pellegrinelli, “emergent” (unplanned) strategies. show, many companies have, in fact,
Partington and Young (2003) see (However, in the research to be report- developed structured approaches for creat-
implementing strategy through pro- ed here, we found this to be so for the ing and managing project (and program)
gram management as involving contin- aerospace case, but not for the drug strategy that cover the entire project life
uous re-formulation and adjustment. development or construction cases.) cycle and are integrated with the business
There is some confusion in the lit- strategy development processes.
erature – and a variation in practice – Projects
over just what really is involved in pro- Projects, in distinction to programs, Competencies, roles, responsibilities and
gram management. Most commenta- have a “unique” objective and follow a accountabilities for moving strategy
tors define program management as single development “life cycle.” PMI’s Corporate strategy is not translated into
involving the management of a collec- PMBOK® Guide (2004) is cursory in its project strategy by process alone. Moving
tion of interrelated projects. Several treatment of the linkage between the strategy through such processes and prac-
perspectives exist on the optimal ways organization’s business requirements tices as we have just reviewed requires an
to configure programs to achieve (there is no real discussion of business extensive range of personal competencies
strategic objectives and deal with strategy) and the project (via its charter and a clear definition of roles, responsibil-
change (Murray-Webster & Thiry, [4.1], project plan [4.3], and scope ities and accountabilities.
2000). Some emphasize the technolo- [4.2; 5.1.1]). Turner (1999) is better, Following Boyatzis (1982), several
gy base, as in platform projects by advocating the development of a definitions of competence (and capability)
(Wheelwright & Clark, 1992). Others, comprehensive definition of a project have been offered. Hornby & Thomas
particularly those coming from at the start of the project, in which (1989) for example defined competency
Information Technology, also empha- business plans are aligned with project as the knowledge, skills and qualities of
size the importance of business benefit plans containing key elements of proj- effective managers, and pointed to the
(OGC, 2003). Pellegrinelli (1997) and ect strategy. Simister (2000) shows the ability to perform effectively in a specific
Murray-Webster and Thiry (2000) have development of business cases and work situation.
proposed a more generic portfolio and strategic briefs as part of the project The UK Institution of Civil Engineers’
program typologies. definition process. Gardiner (2005) competency framework (2000) comprises
Programs are often ongoing or provides an authoritative text with sev- 12 key management roles and approxi-
long-term and are subjected to both eral case studies on project strategy. mately 140 associated competencies.

8 D E C E M B E R 2005 Project Management Journal


Elements of strategy management are ment between corporate and project global pharmaceutical company, a
covered in both the corporate and strategy (APM, 2005). group within a global financial servic-
business management roles, and proj- This research project was, there- es company, and an international
ect management is shown as having fore, set up to explore and illustrate in transportation facility owner and oper-
responsibility for project strategy. more rigorous detail how corporate ator – for our purposes, a leading con-
Crawford (2000) reveals a number of strategy is implemented by project, struction client [owner]. A summary of
knowledge, skills and personal attrib- program, and portfolio management. some of the key findings are summa-
utes of project managers, including Given the availability of funding rized below.
that of strategic direction although, as and time available, the research was
we noted above, her later survey designed to be exploratory. That is, it Aerospace company
(Crawford, 2005) found that senior was recognized that only a limited The company is a Tier 2 supplier. It
managers did not consider that project number of case studies and survey data requires all of its business activities to
managers should be involved in proj- could be undertaken, and that the find- be assigned to a program. Each pro-
ect strategy. Morris, Jamieson, and ings, therefore, could not be, and gram has to have a client. There is a
Shepherd (2005) have suggested that should not be, taken as either exhaus- hierarchical cascade of objectives from
this might be a result of her having tive or conclusive. (There is much room the corporate level, through SBUs, to
used the PMBOK® Guide (Project for additional research in this area.) programs and projects. Orders are pro-
Management Institute, 2004) for her The case study method is particu- gressed through a stage-gated develop-
conceptual definition of project man- larly appropriate for exploratory ment process. Eleven key project
agement: the PMBOK® Guide, as we research since cases are descriptive and management topics are reviewed at
have seen, assumes no real involve- explanatory. Case studies were selected each gate, one of which is project strat-
ment of project management in front- from four different but important egy. Project strategy is managed, in
end definition, including strategy areas: the aerospace, financial, phar- considerable detail, by project teams
formulation (Morris, 2005). maceutical and transportation (con- throughout all the stages and all the
Examples of core competences struction) sectors (though admittedly associated phases of the project man-
related to project strategy are provided all from the sponsoring organization’s agement process, as illustrated
in the case studies in Morris & perspective: that is, from the perspec- schematically by Figure 2.
Jamieson (2004). We shall also see evi- tive of the company making a capital The company also has a specific
dence in the case studies that project investment). process for managing a rapid response
leadership is increasingly being recog- Semi-structured interviews were to changes impacting strategy.
nized as a key competence in shaping conducted with senior managers using The company’s highly integrat-
and implementing project strategy. a questionnaire-based approach. Data ed, structured approach used to
(See the drug development and trans- and information gathered from the translate corporate and business
portation case studies.) interviews, and documentation from strategies into project strategy, and
each company, were analyzed and syn- then to manage it through the entire
Research methodology thesized to develop models of how project management process and
The literature on how corporate strate- corporate strategy was formulated and project life cycle, illustrates the
gy gets implemented via portfolios, implemented through portfolios, pro- importance it gives to project strate-
programs, and projects is thus diverse grams, and projects. The results and gy and its management, as well as
and patchy. While that on portfolio findings of each case study were vali- the level of priority which should be
management is quite thorough, the dated by the appropriate company given; it provides a good model of
treatment is primarily from an analytic before a cross analysis of all the results how this can be done.
viewpoint. There is little on implemen- and findings was carried out.
tation issues (although there is more in A full report on the research was Global financial services company
the more recent material; for example, published by PMI in the fall of 2004 The company has a highly structured
Archer & Ghasemzadeh, 2004). The lit- (Morris & Jamieson, 2004). This publi- process of developing and approving
erature on program management, as cation contains full details of the four its corporate plan but the role of
we have already seen, is often quite case studies, the highlights of which project management in its imple-
confused, not least on what indeed are as follows. mentation is not made explicit. The
program management is. There is a lack program and project processes are
of detail in the APM BOK (Dixon, Four case studies of moving from corpo- self-standing and begin with refer-
2000) on how corporate strategy influ- rate to project strategy ence to the business unit’s vision,
ences project strategy while the subject We studied four companies to provide mission, strategies and objectives.
is not addressed in the PMBOK® Guide evidence and insight into the way cor- Once an initiating “letter of intent”
(PMI, 2004). New guidelines on proj- porate strategy is created and moved is authorized for the project, work
ect and corporate governance, however, into programs and projects – a global begins on defining the business case.
stress the importance of clear align- aerospace company, a division of a This defines, inter alia:

D E C E M B E R 2005 Project Management Journal 9


• The program operational vision tion using a ”Mobilize Program” • Project objectives
• The relationship with the business process, which takes the results of the • Project schedule
strategy plan previous planning processes and incor- • Project budget
• Program/project organization structure porates them into the project manage- • Resource plan
• Risk and resource plans ment plan. “Project strategy” as a term • Risk management plan
• Delivery plan and activity is not mentioned in the • A complete set of project briefs.
• Project briefs project management process from this
• WBS point onward. However, the way in The strategy for the project is man-
which the project is to be managed is aged and maintained through the
Upon approval of the business covered in detail in the following sec- operational vision within the business
case, the project is prepared for execu- tions of the project management plan: case, and is in force until the close of

Business Process Model

Managing Major Projects Process

Project Management Process

Concept Execute In-Service

Phases of
Each Process
Stage

Key Tasks of
Each Phase

Strategy Strategy

Key Topics of
Each Key Task

Scope Scope

Risk Risk

Figure 2: A structured approach to creating and moving project strategy

10 D E C E M B E R 2005 Project Management Journal


the project. The lack of a single coher- manage projects. The process is geared ly assumes a much more prominent
ent project strategy document, clearly to each of the phases of the life cycle role in shaping project strategy, though
related to the business case, can lead to and utilizes a “plan, form team, moni- this is not always the case. The split is
loss of business rationale in some tor and replan” structure. It is also reminiscent of Kotter’s distinction
cases. It is recognised that there could linked to a series of project manage- between leadership and management
be a tighter linkage between business ment methodologies, which identify (Kotter, 1990; Morris, 2004).
strategy and project implementation. the actions to be taken by the project
team at any point in the project or Transportation (construction) company
Global drug development company phase of the development life cycle. The company is one of the largest and
Drug development involves the pro- Project strategy is identified as one of most efficient airport operators in the
gression of chemical entities discov- the topics that need to be implement- world. It applies the “OGSM” method-
ered in the laboratory through a highly ed by the project team during the ology developed in Procter and
structured series of tests in animals and “plan” phase and there is a standard Gamble for defining objectives, goals,
humans for clinical efficacy and com- list of contents for the project strategy. strategies, and measures in a sequen-
mercial attractiveness. In a “big phar- Because of the high rate of attri- tial manner cascading these down
ma” like the one studied here there tion, spending too much time detail- through business units to programs
will be several dozen chemical entities ing long-term project strategy is not and projects.
(“candidates”) being progressed seen to be useful. However, it is still Figure 3 shows that the strategic
through the pipeline at any one time. considered essential to develop and business units, capital investment plans
The management of this development maintain a flexible strategy for the suc- (CIPs), business governance, project
activity involves a complex matrix of cess of the project. Thus project strate- governance and major and minor proj-
functional “lines” and projects and gy is aligned with the portfolio strategy ects are all set within the “environ-
programs, clustered under therapeutic and is revised as the project progresses. ment” of the corporate OGSMs, and
areas (Foulkes & Morris, 2004). Most pharmaceutical project man- that each level determines that of the
Most compounds prove not to agement organizations distinguish next in descending order.
work in the way hoped and the attri- between a Project Leader (or Director) The company does not use the
tion rate is thus enormously high, cer- role and the Project Manager. term “portfolio” but does use a process
tainly in the earlier stages of the Typically, the former has a strong feel- for measuring the strategic contribu-
pipeline. However, large pharma com- ing for the science of the development; tion, uncertainty/complexity, and
panies typically have many more com- the latter is more concerned with the value-for-money of its capital invest-
pounds in hand than they have operational management of the proj- ments at the SBU levels and for evalu-
resources available to work on them. ect. The project leader/director typical- ating, selecting and prioritizing its
Hence there is an on-going dialogue
between senior management working Corporate CIP
at the therapeutic governance level on
portfolio prioritization and resource SBUs & Other OGSMs
ora te
allocation and project-level status and Functions CIPs Corp
(Inc AM) er OGSM
outlook. s/Oth s
SBU
Portfolios are very important: they ss Go vernance
B usin e
essentially form “the hand” from
ject Governance
which the future of the company is Pro
ect Board
being played. The term “programs” is Proj AM
less well embedded. Programs are seen Process
jects P
Pro r
as constituting a technical platform – a
oc
r
M aj o

ess

Minor Project
particular type of drug – of which there Projects
Process Environment
may be various versions (slightly dif-
ferent indications, dosages or delivery
SBU/Project
mechanisms, for example). Projects, in Environment
effect, have two meanings. One is the
major project of developing “a com-
pound” from discovery to regulatory
approval and into the marketplace.
The other is the activity of getting the
compound to the next milestone
review point in its development.
The company uses a very struc-
tured project management process to Figure 3: Corporate, business unit, and project environments

D E C E M B E R 2005 Project Management Journal 11


programs and projects. Program man- ments and was clearly the major busi- The aerospace company formally
agement is seen as the management of ness process. Project and portfolio reviewed project strategy as a p.m.
a group of projects with similar aims. management (and program manage- topic alongside a dozen or so other
Projects are managed via a stage ment to a lesser extent) are important prescribed aspects of project manage-
gate process with a project board aspects of this process. The financial ment at each “phase gate” review, very
responsible to project governance for services company had a high-level much as good governance practice
the day-to-day running of the project. business process but this was less visi- now recommends. The drug develop-
The project is split into two stages: ble than the aerospace and transporta- ment company did the same thing at
development and project delivery. The tion business models. major gate reviews (going into
former is managed by a development Exploratory Development and then
manager, the latter by a project leader Cascading corporate strategies into proj- into Full Development).
(not “project manager” – this term is ects and strategy plans
deliberately avoided by the company, All the companies created corporate Portfolio management
since, to some, it seems too bureau- objectives, goals and strategies using The importance of project portfolio
cratic and does not sufficiently empha- processes like the strategic manage- management was recognized by all the
size the required level of leadership: a ment processes described by Mintzberg companies. The pharmaceutical com-
view reminiscent of the preceding and others. As in Turner’s model, these pany had a dedicated project portfolio
pharma case and Kotter). objectives, goals and strategies were management practice that played a very
The gated review process ensures cascaded to the SBUs or equivalent important part in project development.
that projects are aligned to business organizational entities, which, in turn, Within the companies, portfolio man-
strategy (and corporate strategy) as they and in conjunction with corporate agement was used primarily to select
are set up, authorized and executed. A strategy planners, developed their own and prioritize programs and projects,
project management process is used to objectives, goals, and strategies. The not to manage programs or projects.
develop the project definition and key SBUs subsequently developed objec- Corporate and business units assem-
project management plans, a summary tives, goals, and strategies with and for bled a strategic portfolio of programs
of which is considered to encapsulate their respective program and project and projects, or measured the strategic
project strategy. However, “project strat- teams, again in some instances using contribution of a program or project,
egy” as a term and practice is not used fully interconnecting business and using a number of strategic and project
in the company. The performance of project management processes. The management processes, tools and tech-
the project team is not measured importance of project portfolio man- niques. Company management boards
against the objectives of the project, agement was recognized by all the or committees of senior managers
expressed in terms of project strategy, companies. adopted or rejected projects based on
but only in terms of business strategy. In all four cases the program this information. (This was in almost
and/or project teams developed project the identical manner described in Artto
Cross-cutting findings strategies that aligned with the SBU and & Dietrich, 2004.)
The following general findings can be corporate strategy using project strategy
drawn from the case studies. or similar processes. The outputs of the Program management
processes containing the objectives, Program management was practiced
Business models goals, and strategies included strategy by all the companies primarily in the
Some companies had project manage- plans, business plans, deployment sense of managing a group of high
ment clearly embedded in their busi- plans and project plans, the hierarchy of value projects sharing a common aim
ness model; others did not. The which, in most cases, was similar to and/or of delivering regular benefits
aerospace company had a very power- Archibald’s hierarchy of objectives, over a protracted period of time.
ful business process model in which strategies and projects, as reflected in In the aerospace company pro-
program management (and project the aerospace case in Figure 2. gram management was positioned as
strategy) played a prominent part. The The pharmaceutical development the management of a number of inter-
international transportation compa- company reviewed and rebalanced its related projects but critically also cov-
ny/construction owner also had a portfolios frequently – formally, every ering operations and maintenance.
strong business process model, though six months. The interaction of emerging This is crucial in this company since
project management, as a formal disci- trial results data on the therapy area much of the product margin is in oper-
pline had a less visible role. The phar- portfolio strategy was strongly evident, ations and logistics support rather
maceutical company had a process and project managers (and project than initial capital sales. In the finan-
model that was dominated by the drug directors) took a leadership role in cial services company there was much
development process – this is not the shaping the next phase of implementa- more emphasis in program manage-
same as a business model per se, but is tion. This required new proposals for ment on managing multiple, interre-
common to all drug development project or program strategy and these lated projects for business benefit. In
being driven by regulatory require- influenced portfolio strategy. the pharmaceutical case the emphasis

12 D E C E M B E R 2005 Project Management Journal


was on “asset” management, in the management or technical manage- pharmaceutical company. The trans-
sense that the program represented a ment. The pharmaceutical company portation/construction company had a
basic chemical entity (a technology had identified specific project strategy- strong “value-for-money” (VM) orien-
platform in Wheelwright and Clark’s related issues for each phase and stage tation, but did not use VM as a special
phrase [1990]), which can be promot- of the project development life cycle. practice.
ed as a brand. Program management Both companies assigned roles and All the companies integrated other
in the transportation/construction case responsibilities for managing the exe- key project development practices into
was used to manage multiple, interre- cution of these processes. The other their strategy development processes,
lated projects. two companies used a less structured such as risk management, technical
Program management and project approach. Though they developed and commercial management, and
management activities were carried out management plans for their projects, safety management.
in all cases using the same set of com- they tended to neither summarize the
mon processes, variously called inte- plans nor develop a single project strat- Roles, responsibilities and accountabilities
grated program management, program egy statement from them. The compa- In the pharmaceutical and transporta-
management, or even project manage- nies also tended not to use the term tion/construction companies, project
ment. The development of program “project strategy” in their project man- strategy was developed and main-
strategy and its alignment with corpo- agement processes. (There is a research tained by governance and project lead-
rate and business strategy was, as a issue left open here, namely whether it ership teams through business related
consequence, achieved in a similar way would be beneficial to manage project processes and not exclusively through
to that for projects. (This aligns with a strategy as a more formal, single docu- project management processes. In the
finding by the authors from a later ment – and process.) pharmaceutical case this was driven by
piece of work, on updating the APM The aerospace and pharmaceutical the characteristics of the regulated
BOK (Morris, Jamieson, & Shepherd, companies managed project strategy development process and by gover-
2005), where we found program man- for effectively the entire project life nance review of the “emerging” portfo-
agers identified the same practices as cycle and not just at the front-end of a lio and individual project data. Project
being needed as project managers, project. The other two companies managers focused more on the sched-
though in some cases by a slightly managed the project strategy as part of uling, follow-up and general “control”
reduced amount.) managing the business case for the activities in support of the project lead-
project. ers’ strategy-shaping activities. In the
Project strategy transportation/construction case, strat-
The business case was the key element Processes and procedures egy was developed using the OGSM
of the corporate and project manage- The processes that were most consis- method cascaded down through SBUs
ment interface in all the companies. An tently used were those in which the in classical “deliberate” manner.
outline project strategy was developed structure and content were described
early in all the projects and was aligned at a practical level (e.g., flowcharts Competencies and frameworks
with corporate and business strategies. with inputs and outputs for key In general, project management resources
Subsequently, business strategy, in processes) and those that identified and capabilities figured highly in creat-
most of the companies, was turned into who was accountable and responsible ing, deploying and maintaining enter-
a comprehensive project strategy fol- for carrying out the process activities. prise, portfolio, program, and project
lowing project management processes Conversely, when the procedures were strategies. All the companies specified the
and incorporating many of the usual described in too much detail staff roles, responsibilities and accountabili-
project management practices. tended not to use them. The best ties of those involved in the business
It is important to note that good examples of the deployment of the management and project management
governance practice now clearly business models and associated processes, some using comprehensive
requires that projects and programs processes were those that were fully sets of tables and matrices – for example,
have an approved implementation documented and incorporated within “RACI” tables (Responsible, Accountable,
plan which is aligned with the overall the company’s Quality Management Coordination/Consultation,
business strategy – and that this be System, and were web-based and Information) that were linked directly to
reviewed at pre-defined authorization available online throughout the the processes. These covered in detail all
points (APM, 2005). Many companies organization (see also Artto & the phases and stages of the project man-
now do this on a routine basis. Dietrich, 2004). Where this approach agement process and project life cycle,
Two of the companies used a very was not used, companies, neverthe- including those for creating and main-
structured approach to create and less, linked the activities of their busi- taining project strategy or for implement-
manage project strategy. The aerospace ness units and projects to ensure ing enterprise strategy within the context
company had institutionalized a proj- alignment of strategy. of the project business case, these RACI
ect strategy management practice that Strategy was consciously and sys- tables identifying “who” does “what” and
was equivalent to, for example, risk tematically “value managed” in the “when” at any point along the process.

D E C E M B E R 2005 Project Management Journal 13


Roles, responsibilities and accountabilities BOX 1: Project Management and Project Strategy
The companies also employed a num-
ber of other methods to identify and POPULATION %
specify the skills, knowledge, behaviors 1. Organizations had extensive or partially integrated project Almost all
and experience required to develop management processes to help manage project
and manage project strategy. These strategy, which contained:
included competencies for senior proj- Project strategy management 85
ect management staff, such as manag- Requirements management, project strategy, project 75
ing vision and strategy; and project definition, and project scope management
management functional competencies Requirements management, project definition, and 85
covering knowledge and experience of project scope management
strategy-related areas like scope man-
agement. 2. Organizations had specific strategy inputs to integrated project Most
management processes, which included:
Survey data on how companies move Corporate strategy 75
strategy from the corporate level to Corporate strategy and business strategies 65
projects Corporate, business, and portfolio strategies 50
The case studies provided a rich quali- Corporate, business, portfolio, and program strategies 45
tative context in which to explore how
Portfolio and program strategies only 55
companies moved from the corporate
Program strategy 75
level to program and project strategy.
But the data sample was obviously
3. The integrated project management processes delivered
small. To provide more evidence we
the following outputs:
carried out a survey of members in a
A project or program plan and strategy plan 50
number of PMI Chapters in European
countries. A series of 32 multiple- Other project management plans 75
choice questions were developed and A project or program plan, strategy plan and other plans 45
used to examine the processes, prac-
4. Organizations with integrated project management processes 65
tices, and people issues involved in
managed project strategy dynamically
moving strategy from the corporate
level to projects. 5. The roles and responsibilities for developing, implementing, and
Seventy-five responses (about updating project strategy were specified in:
50% from UK) were received from Project management procedures 60
people at various levels of seniority, in Project plans 55
small, medium, and large enterprises
in a diverse range of business sectors 6. Project plans were formally reviewed at project “gates” 85
such as aerospace, automotive, IT,
Those who did not and thought they should 85
telecommunications, pharmaceuticals,
retail, transportation and publishing; 7. Peer groups formally reviewed project plans 75
and academia and consultancy. The Those who did not and thought it would be sensible to do 65
response rate – about 2% – is too
small for the results to be considered 8. It was clear who approved and signed off project strategy 75
as statistically valid, but can be taken
as indicative: the research is, as we have 9. Strategy was expected to be upgraded and reviewed:
said, at best only “exploratory.” The During the development of the project 65
results are as follows. Systematically as projects develop from concept to execution 55
Of which:
How business management models are used It was systematically undertaken at project review gates 85
67% used a generic business model.
50% of those believed they had exten-
sive processes for moving corporate Program management and portfolio Project management and project strategy
goals into project strategy; 90% had management 85% used extensive or partial project
adequate or better interconnection 50% used some form of portfolio man- management processes to manage proj-
between corporate, business and proj- agement, of which 95% used some ect strategy; most (75%+) had specific
ect management processes. Over 53% form of program management (with strategy inputs into project manage-
recognized a hierarchy of objectives 75% having business benefit manage- ment, and 65% did this in an “emer-
and strategies. ment as an explicit part of this). gent” manner; 85% used a gate review

14 D E C E M B E R 2005 Project Management Journal


tencies defined, of which 75% includ-
BOX 2: Survey Findings – Value Management
ed those for managing the strategy
POPULATION % development process. (See Box 3.)
A combined analysis of the find-
1. A process was used for optimizing the value of proposed 55 ings of the case studies and survey was
project/program strategy. then carried out, the results of which
Of which: are reflected in the findings and con-
Value was expressed as a benefit over resources used 80 clusions below.
The process was formalized as value management 55
Value management workshops were held 40 Overall findings and conclusions
at strategic stages in the life of the project Before reviewing the overall conclu-
Those not using a process for optimizing the value of 55 sions of the research, a number of
project/program strategy, but believed they should caveats and cautions should be made
regarding the reliability and generaliz-
2. Value engineering was practiced on programs and projects. 25 ability of the research findings.
Of which: There is clearly a limitation on the
Value engineering (optimizing the value of the technical 80 generalizability due to:
configuration) was distinguished from value management • The size and scale of the investigation;
Those not practicing value engineering on programs and 56 • The sample of case studies;
projects thought they should • The size of the survey;
• The types of programs and projects; and
3. The value optimization process was integrated with risk management 75 • The effectiveness and performance of
Those that thought it should not be done 40 the processes, practices and compe-
tencies surveyed.

All the companies were at differ-


BOX 3: Survey Findings – Project Management Competencies
ent stages of developing, implement-
POPULATION % ing or improving their business
models and the information therefore
1. Project management skills and knowledge competencies 80 was time-specific.
required to manage programs or projects were formally defined The scope of the survey was
Of which: broad and therefore the number of
Those required to develop program and project strategy 75 questions per topic was relatively
Linking the competencies to personal appraisal 80 small. Consequently the coverage
and development systems and depth of some topics such as
Linking personal objectives to project objectives 65 value management and competencies
were limited. A few respondents to
2. Those that did not formally define the project management skills 50 the questionnaire indicated that
and knowledge competencies incorporated the management of some questions were ambiguous and
project strategy in job descriptions or job specifications. could be interpreted differently. Also,
some of the terms may not be well
3. Organization-wide behavioral competency frameworks were used 60 known, for example Value
Those that did not use them, but believed they should 45 Management. The survey analysis did
not take account of different business
4. Competency support programs for program and project managers 70 sectors.
were provided. Overall, the response rate was
Of which: too small for the results to be statisti-
Covered support for project strategy development 66 cally valid and to be treated as any-
thing other than indicative.
Despite these caveats, we neverthe-
process with clear sponsorship respon- value of the project, of which 75% less feel a number of conclusions can
sibilities, and 65% upgraded strategy as combined it with risk management. be drawn from the research.
the project progressed. (See Box 1.) Only 25% used Value Engineering.
(See Box 2.) Moving from corporate to project strategy
Project value management and its link to Project and program management is
project strategy. Project management competencies. widely used as a means of implement-
55% had a process for optimizing the 80% had project management compe- ing corporate and business strategy

D E C E M B E R 2005 Project Management Journal 15


and is a key business process. Programs are important vehicles level as well as the corporate level.
Normatively, we should expect strate- for implementing corporate strategy It can be concluded, therefore,
gies to be aligned and moved from the and for implementing change. Most that although project strategy manage-
corporate level through portfolios, companies considered that program ment is an underexplored and insuffi-
programs and projects in a systematic management emphasizes the manage- ciently described subject in the
and hierarchical manner that provides ment of business benefits (as well as business and project literature, it is, in
cohesion, visibility and an effective the ideas of product, brand or platform fact, a relatively well-trodden area,
means of communication. Not all is management). There is broad agree- deserving of more recognition, formal
“deliberate,” however; there is emer- ment that program management study, and discussion.
gence and iteration. Project strategy is includes the management of a portfo-
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DR. PETER MORRIS is Professor of Construction and Project Management at University College London (UCL) and Visiting
Professor of Engineering Project Management at the University of Manchester. He is also Executive Director of INDECO, an
international projects-based management consultancy. He has written over 120 papers on project management as well
as the books The Anatomy of Major Projects (Wiley, 1987) and The Management of Projects (Thomas Telford, 1997); he is
the editor, with Jeffrey Pinto, of the Wiley Guide to Managing Projects (Wiley, 2004) and co-author with Ashley Jamieson
of Translating Corporate Strategy into Project Strategy: Achieving Corporate Strategy Through Project Management (PMI,
2004). In 2005, he received the PMI Research Achievement Award.

ASHLEY JAMIESON worked for many years as a business manager, senior program manager, and project manager with
global aerospace and defense companies. For the last few years, he has been working with Peter Morris on a variety of
research projects. At Manchester, he carried out research into design management in major construction projects, and
was a visiting lecturer in project management. At UCL, he recently completed the PMI-funded research project on how
corporate strategy is translated into project strategy, which forms the basis of this paper. He was recently Research Fellow
on a project updating the APM BOK. He holds an MSc in Engineering Business Management. In addition to this PMI
publication, he is a contributor to the Wiley Guide to Managing Projects (Wiley, 2004).

18 D E C E M B E R 2005 Project Management Journal