Project in context of Project Management


Mar 13th, 2015

Project Managers these days perform a pivotal role in industry to deliver successful projects. Project Management is a popular professional career now a day. Proper academic degree courses, at masters as well as bachelor level, are offered in many universities around the world in this area.
To understand project management you need to understand first what is project. In this article, I will explain in detail what is project in view of renowned USA and UK’s project management associations i.e. PMI and APM respectively.
According to Project Management Institute PMI,“A project is a temporary group of activities designed to produce a unique product, service or result”. Association for Project Management APM states, “Projects are unique, transient endeavour undertaken to achieve a desired outcome”. It is worthy to note keywords used to define project in these definitions given above i.e. unique/non-routine; transient/temporary endeavour; desired outcome/specific objectives; to create unique product, and service or result. These are features of a project, which differentiate projects from day-to day operations of an organisation also known as Business as Usual (BAU).
Projects are unique in one way or the other. Projects also have some similar activities involved in it but circumstances, e.g. nature of project, industry etc., and parties involved in a particular project makes every project different from one another. No two projects are exactly same due to certain element of customisation and uncertainty, therefore unique. For example, a project to create software involves some similar usual activities but specifications, client/owner, budget, duration of project etc. are different which gives it some degree of uniqueness.
Desired outcome/objectives:
I just mentioned that projects are unique by nature and different from day-to-day operations of organisations. A unique set of objectives are set at outset to achieve before starting a project. The sole purpose of a project is to achieve those objects, for instance, to organise an event, produce security software, to bring a new game to the market etc. In all above given examples, commonality is to produce something new, either product or service.
The purpose of unique set of objectives is to produce deliverables in the form of outputs and outcomes. Usually output is referred to something tangible for instance a product, while intangible things such as services are known as outcomes. Also benefits achieved through project are also called outcomes. Thus, the focus of a project is to achieve deliverables. Some authors divide deliverables in hard, soft and interim deliverables.
• Hard Deliverables- as the name suggests it involves tangible hard objects.
• Soft Deliverables- it will be tangible objects as hard deliverables but these are paper products, for instance reports, project documents etc.
• Interim Deliverables- it can involves either one, i.e. hard or soft deliverable.
Temporary Endeavours:
As I stated that projects are temporary endeavours, thus clients give definitive starting and ending dates. By temporary, it is not necessarily mean short term. A project could be an event organisation that will last for few hours or days to public private partnerships, that can last for couple of years. Temporary means that a project will be completed in a definite period contrary to on-going operations on an organisation. Additionally, temporary does not mean that outputs or outcomes will finishes shortly. Furthermore, team that is undertaking project will also be on temporary basis and members will disperse after project’s completion.
Life Cycle:
All projects have life cycle. The projects are divided in a number of stages or phases of development, which are collectively called project’s life cycle. The project develops or goes through different stages/phases of its life cycle sequentially. However, there is no single or widely accepted life-cycle model across the industries, in a business sector or among different organisations operating in the same industry/business sector.
Scope of a project is decided before initiation. It is agreed between client and project team. It is often advised to also include what will not be in included in the project explicitly to avoid any confusion between parties. One common problem seen in late delivery of projects is ambiguous scope of the project.
Stakeholders of a project are those parties who are interested in, possess ability to influence or affected by the project. Stakeholder management is necessary for deliver a project successfully.
From above mentioned definitions and explanation, it is logically concluded that project is a unique group of activities, which is undertaken temporarily to achieve specific purpose(s) that can be a tangible or intangible product, service or result. Project is unique because it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a specific goal. The development of software for an improved business process, the construction of a building or bridge, the relief effort after a natural disaster, the expansion of sales into a new geographic market — all are projects.

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