May 2, 2012 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Management Definitions
What Is a Project?
By Michael Phillips
The following are some characteristics that define what a project should be. I enjoy going back and reading this and comparing it to so called projects I have worked on. Those projects that seem to have no planning, no goals, are under budgeted, and seem to run on and on with no end in sight.
- A project is undertaken to create something, such as a product, service, or result (PMI, 2008). There has to be something that shows a finished result. It can result in a small component of another item, be a creation of the capability to perform a service, or be the finished document of a research project.
A project is temporary, having a definite beginning and end (PMI, 2008). This is ideal, but we know some projects can run on, but to the best of a team’s abilities there is a defined beginning and a product with an end in sight. It can be defined as a long or short project, but it is defined. They can run a week, they can run for several years, but there must be a beginning and an end (Microsoft.com, 2012).
A project is an endeavor. People need to do work with equipment on tasks that have an intention to them. Nothing happens spontaneously.
A project has objectives that must be met to be completed (PMI, 2008). To reach the endpoint, objectives must be met. If objectives are not met a project can be terminated.
A project can be repeated, having repeated tasks (PMI, 2008). As long as there is a unique element such as time and location, the fundamental uniqueness of the project work can be repeated, such as the construction of similar office buildings. The project team, materials, and base design can be the same, but there may be some unique designs, circumstances, and contractors used.
A project can involve a single person, a single organizational unit, or multiple organizational units (PMI, 2008).
A project is an endeavor. People need to do work with equipment on planned tasks that have an intention to them. Nothing happens spontaneously. (Microsoft.com, 2012).
A project has a plan. The plan details the direction and purpose of the project, known as the scope. It also details many of the details listed above, such as the objectives, estimated costs and schedule, tasks, materials, and estimated size of the project team.
A project is not an ongoing work effort, such as following an organization’s existing procedures (PMI, 2008). Ongoing operations have no established end date and could run indefinitely, such as accounting and human resources (Microsoft.com, 2012).
Examples of projects include creating the mirror for the Hubble Space Telescope (component of another item), creating a new marketing display at Macy’s (business function that supports production), or building a house (outcome). Projects exist at home, such as cooking a dinner, planting a garden, or repainting a room.
- Project Management Institute (2008). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide), Ch 1 & 2. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Microsoft.com. (2012). A short course in project management.
These definitions of a project were compiled by Michael Phillips. You can read more on his blog.
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