Applied Information Management

Strategic Project Management: Aligning Business Objectives with Project Management

In Brief: Today's rapidly evolving, global business environment has created a complex organizational climate that demands attention to real and perceived competitive threats. Projects are frequently seen as appropriate mechanisms of control in turbulent times, while at the same time they often stimulate learning and creativity in order to produce complex products.

Strategic project management is the management projects that enable the organization as a whole to have competitive advantage.

Organizations depend upon projects that are derived from and aligned with corporate strategy. Understanding how strategic business objectives are aligned at the project level is critical for competitive positioning and high-performing organizations.

This literature review examines four models designed to bridge the gap between organizational strategic intent and project management goals [Heerkens (2007), Green (2005), Wessels (2007), and Naughton (2006)]. Analysis reveals several common determinants of competitive advantage, including the need to adopt project portfolio management and the need for strategic project leadership.

When viewed collectively, the authors selected for review in this study present a larger construct for strategic project management that is based on a methodology of aligning projects with business-level strategic plans, which includes these core elements:

  1. Formally defining, articulating, managing and aligning project strategy with business strategy;
  2. Adopting project portfolio management to maximize the value of the total collection of an organization's projects and programs to ensure that projects and programs selected for execution align with the business-level strategies; and
  3. Developing strategic project leadership via project management competencies and capabilities that contribute to an organization's sustainable competitive advantage.


  • Anderson, D. & Merna, A. (2005). Project management is a capital investment process. Journal of Management in Engineering, 21, 173-178.
  • Brache, A. (2002). How organizations work: Taking a holistic approach to enterprise health. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Cicmil, S. & Hodgson, D. (2006). New possibilities for project management theory: A critical engagement. Project Management Journal, 37, 111-122.
  • Garfein, S. (2007). Executive guide to strategic portfolio management: Roadmap for closing the gap between strategy and results. Paper presented at the annual North American meeting of the Project Management Institute. Atlanta, GA.
  • Hamel, G. & Prahalad, C. (1990). The core competence of the corporation. Harvard Business Review, 68, 79-91.
  • Heerkens, G. (2007). Introducing the revolutionary strategic project management maturity model (SPM3). Paper presented at the annual North American meeting of the Project Management Institute. Atlanta, GA.
  • Patton, J. & White, D. (2002). Closing the strategic vision/implementation gap. Proceedings from the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars and Symposium. San Antonio, TX.
  • Shenhar, A. (2004). Strategic project leadership®: Toward a strategic approach to project management. R&D Management, 34, 569-578.
AIM alumna Jennifer DyReyes

Research Paper Author: Jennifer DyReyes, Project Manager, ADP Inc.—2008 AIM Graduate

Abstract: This literature review examines the theory of "strategic project management" as a concept that aligns organizational strategic intent and project management goals. Twenty-eight sources published between 1998 and 2008 are analyzed to understand how strategic project management enables the alignment of business objectives with project strategy in support of overall competitive advantage. The role of project portfolio management and the cultivation and management of organizational competencies, capabilities, and project leadership (resource-based view) are also examined.

Download the entire Capstone research project