Exploring the Front-end of Project Management

Andrew Edkins, Joana Geraldi, Peter Morris, Alan Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

306 Downloads (Pure)


This paper is a multi-case study exploratory investigation into the earliest stages of projects and their management. We refer to this throughout the paper as the ‘front-end’. We provide a definition of this phase of the project life cycle and conduct a literature review of the various topics that would suggest themselves to be apposite to the front-end. This includes governance and strategy; requirements and technology; estimating; risk and value; people and learning and development. Following this review of literature, we set out the approach taken in the empirical study. The context for the study was the UK, although many of the organizations investigated had a global presence and some of their projects were multinational in nature. We detail the research methods, the multi-case study route taken and the nature of the in-depth interviews with senior project management representatives from nine extremely credible organizations experienced in managing projects. Our findings are presented so as to identify the key set of findings determined after multiple passes of the interview details. These findings reflect both what comprises the front-end of projects and what management does in the front-end. Some of this would be expected of project management, but we found aspects of the front-end management that are not within the normal remit of what is considered to be traditional project management. These findings both reinforce the literature and offer new insights, for example, showing the strong influence of the commercial and economic non-project players in leading or influencing the front-end of projects. A considered set of conclusions are presented together with recommendations for further research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEngineering Project Organization Journal
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)71-85
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Critical success factors
  • Front-end
  • Governance and strategy
  • Leaders and teams
  • Project management

Cite this