Published here September 2016

Introduction | What is Program Management? | GAPPS Program Typology
Distinctive Attributes of Projects, Programs, Portfolios
Is it a Program or a Project? | Summary and Conclusions

GAPPS Program Typology[7]

"To determine the impact of these differences, GAPPS developed a typology of programs based largely on the work of Sergio Pellegrinelli (IJPM, 2005) and Alan Stretton (unpublished review of program management literature, 2007). These are shown in Figure 1.

Program Characteristic

Type of Program

Strategic Program

Operational Program

Multi-project Program


General Purpose

Deliver assets and benefits that are directly linked to attaining the sponsoring organization's desired future state

Deliver assets and benefits that are critical to the sponsoring organization's day-to- day operations

Achieve synergies from projects with common traits such as shared resources, similar clients, or product technology

Deliver a specific asset to the sponsoring organization

Key Differentiating Feature

Link to a specific business goal or strategic initiative

Relative interdependence of constituent projects

Relative independence of constituent projects

Significantly larger than the sponsoring organization's typical projects

Reason for Grouping Projects

Early results influence decisions about later projects

Minimize negative impact on ongoing operations

Benefits expected from synergy

So much larger than the organization's typical projects

Figure 1: GAPPS Program Typology[8]

"Further analysis and extensive discussion with program managers led to the following conclusions:[9]

  • The role of the program manager is fundamentally the same for strategic programs, operational programs, and multi-project programs: the type of program does not affect the role.
  • Although a mega-project is often called a program, the role of the manager of a mega-project is substantially different from that of the managers of the other program types. As a result, this framework does not cover the role of mega-project manager. (Emphasis added)
  • Multi-project programs are often similar to project portfolios. However, the role of project portfolio manager is different enough that most project portfolio managers will not to be able to satisfy program manager performance criteria."
What is Program Management?  What is Program Management?

7. Extract from GAPPS (2011), see
8. Ibid
9. Ibid
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