What is the difference between strategy, programmes and projects

What is the difference between strategy, programmes and projects

What is the difference between strategy, programmes and projects?

 

 

 

 

Introduction

What is a project? It is often stated that value management can only be applied to projects therefore knowledge of what constitutes a project is fundamentally important. A construction project is an example of one of the larger (financially and physically) projects which an organisation or a person will undertake. This discussion addresses the following questions: 

1.0 What is the definition of a project?

Slack et al (2009) defines a project as a set of activities that have a defined start point as well as end state pursuing a defined goal using a defined set of resources to reach it. Projects tend to be very broad activities that virtually most managers or people will become involved in at some point in their management career. The only difference is the variation in complexity between projects as some projects are highly complex and huge spanning 10-15 years, for example putting man on the moon. However the vast majority of projects like implementing a process or continuous improvement are often small though still important.

In order to know if a set of activities are a project, the overall characteristics of projects is that they have a) a well-defined objective b) a well-defined beginning and time limit so are temporary c) well definable end result d) resource requirements-all projects need resources e) someone in charge often project managers in charge because f) people are a crucial factor in projects g) and this requires planning, controlling and monitoring. This last stage also has a strategic element to it to oversee that the entire project goes according to plan and delivers what its set out to do (Slack et al 2009).

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1.1 Is the guy in Pizza Hut making pizzas engaged in projects?

While this list of project characteristics is not exhaustive of what makes a project, it shows that for an activity to be considered a project, there are a lot of interactions between people and other factors that go into making a project. Is the guy in Pizza Hut pizzas engaged in projects? If you take the entire process of making a pizza and apply to the criteria of projects, then yes, the process of making pizzas is a series of continuous small projects that start right from the time a customer makes an order up to the time it is made and delivered to them. 

1.2 What about the guy restoring a classic car?

Likewise, the process of restoring a classic car a) often follows a well-defined objective b) with a well-defined beginning and time limit during which restoration needs to take place c) with the well definable end result of restoring the car d) this process will require resources-all projects need resources e) someone in charge in charge (owner in this case) because f) people are a crucial factor in projects (to help with the execution) g) and car restoration will definitely require planning, controlling and monitoring to achieve desired end result and minimize impact of uncertainties.

1.3 Or the guy emptying parking meters of money?

However, the guy emptying parking meters of money is not engaged in a project because while it is an activity, it doesn’t fulfil all the characteristics of a project.

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2.0 Do you agree that value management can only be applied once we have defined a project?

No I don’t agree that value management can only be applied once we have defined a project. In order to justify this stance, its important to first examine what value management is and the best time to apply it in projects. Value management is the structured functional analysis that identifies the functions in a given project, by implementing appropriate tools and techniques in order to meet a required performance at the lowest possible cost (McElligott 1995; Kelly et al 2008). Value management has been touted as one of the most effective solutions available to project managers that want to achieve value for money in any given project especially within the construction industry. The reason is because value management is often implemented on the basic grounds of eliminating unnecessary costs that don’t contribute to project objectives in order to achieve value for money. 

According to McElligott (1995), in order to achieve this, value management needs to be implemented as early as possible right from project inception before any cost is committed. In other words, even as early as the pre-study phase and all throughout other phases such as evaluation, development or post-study, it will still be appropriate to introduce value management. The key point is not to try and leave applying value management late into the project when finances have been committed. So the basic premise is the less commitment involved in a project, the better it is to apply value management. This is why I don’t agree that value management can only be applied once we have defined a project.

3.0 What is the difference between strategy, programmes and projects?

Grant (2010) and Johnson et al (2009) see strategy as the implementation of goals using available resources, like mapping out a path to take and determining resources and systems or structures required to get there effectively. Projects as stated previously are a set of activities that have a defined start point as well as end state pursuing a defined goal using a defined set of resources to reach it. Projects can thus be the path that strategy uses to reach its goals, in other words, projects are used to deliver strategic goals and impact. For example, an individual project such as the restoration of a classic Rolls Royce car can be part of a grander strategy to preserve British heritage but such a project may also be part of an on-going programme such as a car engineering skills development programme. In other words, projects are part of programmes or individual sub-sections of programmes while strategy is the plan of how to achieve or implement both successfully.

 

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