Alan Harpham, Chairman of the APM Group, UK

An update of a paper originally presented at The 16th International Project Management Association's World Congress in Berlin, 2002.

Copyright Alan Harpham.
Published here February 2003.

Abstract | Early Background of PM | Roles, Responsibilities | Why have PM?
Benefits | Program of Projects | Types of Programs | Impact of Differences | Part 2

Alan Harpham is Chairman of the APM Group, (, and director and shareholder of P5 - the Power of Projects, ( He is also a former council member of the Association for Project Management (UK), (, former managing director of Nichols Associates (now the Nichols Group) and a former director of the MSc in project management at the Cranfield School of Management (now part of Cranfield University). Before that Alan worked in the construction industry for John Laing, a major civil and building contractor in the UK, where he progressed from a site civil engineer to overseas contracts manager for the mechanical and electrical division. His work there included construction of an early elevated urban motorway; gas and oil pipelines; the first north sea oil rig; and a PVC Plant in Wloclawek, Poland built with UK labor.

Alan's other interests include: MODEM - a charity promoting dialogue between those interested in leadership and management and those interested in ministry and theology (; CIPL (Christians in Public Life) exploring the role of the church in supporting Christians at work; and exploring spirituality in the workplace ( He is a keen rugby supporter, and enjoys the outdoors, walking and scrambling. He is married to a non-stipendiary Anglican priest. They have two adult sons who are in the water and facilities management businesses.


This paper explores the development of program management out of project management and defines program management as "a set of related projects with a common strategic goal or aim". The author sees this as a tool to bridge the gap between corporate strategy and projects. He describes the reasons why program management is so important, what it is, and the key processes and roles involved. He makes reference to the literature and in particular to the guide "Managing Successful Programs" (MSP), the most definitive work in the UK on the subject.

The MSP guide is available from and more information about its owner, the Office of Government Commerce can be found at The MSP guide describes program management as a pragmatic, robust management approach. It helps organizations to deliver and realize the required benefits, innovation, and new ways of working that will ensure success with major projects and programs of business change. The paper is therefore about the implementation of corporate strategy and the general principles of program management that have been developed and applied in recent years.

Part 1 of this paper covers some of the wider aspects of program management, as follows:

Part 2 of this paper will look at some of the specifics of MSP and related issues such as:


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