Improving the current approaches has not improved project results. A new, upside down approach is needed to break through to consistent success using outcomes.

Wrong way up

Many aspects of orthodox project delivery are the wrong way up. They approach projects from the wrong bottom-up perspective. This is destroying project and business value.

It is time to take an upside down approach to projects and challenge the orthodox approaches by adopting a top-down, business strategy perspective.

Turning orthodoxy upside down

Many projects are seen by management to increase in costs and reduce in value.

TOP’s approach increases the value and reduces the costs.

It is the upside down approach to successful projects.

TOP® is

  1. Value based             Every dollar/euro/pound counts. Value delivery success is the full delivery of the optimal business value – the total realized business value net of the (minimized) costs of delivery and operation.
  2. Outcomes focused    Knowing what you’re doing is of little value if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve in the business. TOP helps you define and then deliver your desired business outcomes.
  3. Optimized               Every step, every action every element of a project either contributes or confounds optimization – therefore, everything is important. Any broken or ineffective value delivery link, every deficient or mis-focused process, tool, template or technique sub-optimizes the end results.

To meet these three standards, TOP

  • Inverts many of the conventional ‘norms’ to deliver more business value in less time and for less cost.
  • Doesn’t start with the project but with the strategy and corporate plan.
  • Doesn’t finish with the project but when the benefits and value are realized in the business.
  • Doesn’t only focus on the project but also on the business activities needed to deliver the benefits.
  • Doesn’t only ‘improve project management’ but also ‘improves value delivery’.
  • Doesn’t focus on ‘project deliverables’ but on the resultant business outcomes and returns from investments.
  • Is not project or technology based, it is business, strategy and value based.

But also it is…

  • Simpler – eliminating complexity in both the solution and the approach
  • Focused – clearly defining the target end states and aligning every activity to their realization
  • Comprehensive – addressing the needs of everyone from the Board to the front line staff.

New Business Strategy perspective

TOP redefines projects as ‘business change’ projects – identifying, planning and successfully delivering change – but not the type of ‘change’ that you probably associate with projects.

It builds on the orthodox project management approaches, redirecting them to plan, schedule and manage change and value delivery activities.

It measures success in terms of the business outcomes, strategic results, benefits and value delivered – and, as this requires full and active business leadership, TOP fully equips the business to lead, direct and control its strategic project investments.

TOP harnesses the organization’s knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment generating a momentum for change, not resistance.

Value delivery requires so much more than ‘project management’. This is why attempts to improve project results have so often failed to deliver the desired results – their focus has been too limited.

When you expand your perspective to include investment strategy and business value delivery, projects get more focused, easier to implement and they deliver more value – a win, win, win situation.

If you’ve tried to improve project results and are still disappointed at your projects’ time, cost and (lack of) value, then it is time to turn your thinking upside down and reap your desired rewards.

How TOP turns orthodoxy upside down



The costs are controlled and the value is compromised as needed

The value is optimized and the costs of delivery are managed

Project starts when the business case is approved

TOP starts as soon as an idea, planned project or actual initiative starts, whichever comes first

Project starts by defining the problem

Project starts by defining the desired end states – the desired business outcomes

Projects exist to deliver the solution

Projects exist to deliver the approved value proposition contained in the business case

Benefits primarily exist to off-set the project’s cost of delivery

Projects are commissioned to deliver the benefits – the costs are the cost of delivering these benefits

The primary measures of success are ‘on time, on budget and to specification’

The primary measures of success are the full, successful delivery of the defined business outcomes, associated benefits and value

Strategic alignment is claimed

Strategic contribution is measured in detail, monitored and able to be analysed

Change is a key means of ensuring successful project implementation

All projects are change projects – every project activity is a change activity; technical delivery is a change delivery stream 

Benefits realization is a business accountability

Benefits realization is a joint business and project accountability actively enabled and governed by the project governance team

Projects are dependent on ‘experts’ to deliver

Your own staff can use TOP to deliver extraordinary results

Benefits are delivered at or after the end of the project

Benefits are delivered progressively throughout the project and beyond

Business project governance is focused on control and decision making

Business project governance is focused on value protection and benefits delivery

It is assumed that the project is within the capability of the organization to successfully deliver

Any gaps between the project’s needs and the organization’s delivery capability are identified, measured and managed

Project is driven by the project leadership team and watched over by the business

Project is driven by the business and managed by the project leadership team

‘Failure’ is not delivering anything or going grossly over time and/or budget

‘Failure’ is continuing a project when the outcomes, benefits and value will not be delivered in full

Target outcomes are usually ambiguous but time, budget and deliverables are specific, tracked and measured

Target end state business outcomes, benefits, value and value drivers are all specific, tracked and measured

Project ends when the deliverables are delivered and the project is closed down

Project investment ends when the post-project benefits value has been fully realized

Methods are primarily targeted to support the ‘experts’

Support and guidance is targeted at all participants across the business from the Board downwards


What does an “upside down” solution enable you to do?

The resultant “upside down” perspective of TOP equips business leaders and their staffs to reap the rewards from their investment of time, capital and effort in projects.

TOP provides the knowledge and knowhow so that they can execute their strategy and achieve their desired results.

TOP specifically equips organizations to:

  1. Identify worthwhile, feasible and strategically relevant investments (& stop the rest)
  2. Simplify current operations so as to improve services and business performance while reducing ongoing operational costs and complexity
  3. Select technical solutions having objectively assessed that they meet the business’ simplified process-based needs, support how the business wants to operate, make money and compete in the future, and fully support the staff to do an excellent job
  4. Define Value Equations that specify, in clear, specific, measurable terms, the total business value to be achieved
  5. Optimize project investment scopes so as to minimize the level of investment required while maximizing the business value generated
  6. Define and plan delivery projects to eliminate wasted effort caused by ambiguity, unknowns and rework
  7. Evaluate and prioritize investment proposals based on their independently validated nature, optimization, ability to deliver and strategic relevance
  8. Implement change and its associated benefits with the support of the staff
  9. Continuously manage the alignment of the technical solution so as to ensure it enables and supports the full delivery of the desired business outcomes
  10. Focus on realizing the available benefits progressively and continue to measure them until they are all achieved
  11. Govern the investment from initiation to value delivery, harnessing the project and business resources needed to fully realize the promised business value available
  12. Identify and stop (early) approved investments that are no longer worthwhile, feasible, relevant, or a priority.

Proven over 20 years, TOP is available ‘in the cloud’ to every organization today.

Topics: TOP compared to orthodox approaches

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (mmm yyyy) as "insert Original Title"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and corrections