TOP's four lens model changes management's perspectives and the processes involved in value and project delivery

What do the four lenses mean for conventional project management?

Firstly they clearly illustrate that successful project delivery is not achieved by excellent project management alone – but requires all four project delivery lenses and their processes to be in place and effectively aligned.

Multiple lenses make clear the important roles of the business (governance) and executive (investment strategy) in the success of the project portfolio. They also clearly position full accountability for ideas, requirements, solutions, scope, and value in the realm of the business. The business needs to be clear as to what it does (and does not) want, and to use its requirements to drive the project.

NB Accountability does not mean they have to personally do it; but they do need to ‘own’ the outputs, not just ‘approve’ them.

The four lenses together position portfolio management as an integral part of Investment Strategy management – orchestrating the plans, portfolio and projects to ensure capital optimisation, project success, and cumulative business outcomes.

These lenses and their processes are closely interrelated.

For example …

The Project/Program Management and control processes need to ensure the Technical Delivery stream is and remains in alignment with the goals, objectives and required outcomes of the project and the business.

The Business/Project Governance processes need to direct and control the Project/Program Management stream to ensure it not only delivers the business outcomes required, but also does so efficiently in order to minimize costs and maximize available value.

The Business/Project Governance processes should also optimize the value promised and delivered – delivering the ‘best bang for each buck’ – and then go on to ensure this value is protected throughout the project’s lifecycle and delivered as early as possible.

The executive Investment Strategy processes need to ensure that proposed projects: measurably align with and contribute to the organization’s strategy, are selected based on their total value contribution, are actioned in the appropriate sequence, and are able to be delivered in full.

"Value Delivery Capability"

The executive is also accountable for ensuring that the organization has the capability to deliver its strategy. If you can't execute your strategy, it's obviously worthless. Your ability to execute your strategy and deliver the expected (needed) business results is largely dependent on your "Value Delivery Capability" level.

Lifting your level of value delivery capability requires more than simply increasing your competency at the technical and project/program management levels. What has been missing to date has been the education, knowledge, tools, techniques, and templates for the business governance and investment strategy management lenses – a gap that has now been comprehensively filled by the TOP tools, techniques and processes. 

In order to improve your value delivery capability you need: individual competencies at all four lens levels + supporting and enabling processes + performance measures + control processes + management focus – ie all of the components integral to the investment strategy and business value lenses.

Consequential changes

When you tie together all four lenses and their processes through equipping each party with their requisite tools, techniques and processes and refocusing them all onto strategy and value delivery, you change the …

  • Language - to become benefits, value and strategy oriented
  • Measures of success - to be business outcomes, benefits, and value based
  • Accountabilities - focusing the business accountabilities on success
  • Approaches - to be business and strategy driven
  • Results - delivering quantum increases in the business outcomes

Explore the Four Lenses


Topics: Capability Development, Process Management, Value Delivery, Program / Project delivery, Project Governance

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Nov 2010) as "The Four-Lens Approach To Project Delivery – Part 3"

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