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Project Management Blog
Petra Goltz, PMP asks: How do you see the role of a project or program manager changing to keep pace with today's fast moving commercial environments?

I say: That's an very interesting question. Without giving it too much thought, I can see the following trends taking place:

Published in Blogs
Thursday, 25 January 2007 14:56

Defining "Project"

Several definitions exist for “project.” According to the PMBOK®Guide, it is: “A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.” Whichever specific definition you choose, nearly every project you manage will have many of the same characteristics. Let’s examine some of the most important ones.

At the most basic level, a project is actually the response to a need, the solution to a problem. Further, it’s a solution that promises a benefit—typically a financial benefit. The fundamental purpose for most projects is to either make money or save money. That’s why projects should be financially justifiable.

By definition, a project is temporary in nature; that means that it has a specific start and finish. A project consists of a well-defined collection of small jobs (tasks) and ordinarily culminates in the creation of an end product or products (deliverables). There will be a preferred sequence of execution for the project’s tasks (the schedule). A project is a unique, one-time undertaking; it will never again be done exactly the same way, by the same people, and within the same environment.

This is a noteworthy point, as it suggests that you will rarely have the benefit of a wealth of historical information when you start your project. You’ll have to launch your project with limited information or, worse yet, misinformation. There will always be some uncertainty associated with your project. This uncertainty represents risk—an ever-present threat to your ability to make definitive plans and predict outcomes with high levels of confidence. All of your projects consume resources—resources in the form of time, money, materials, and labor. One of your primary missions is to serve as the overall steward of these resources—to apply them as sparingly and as effectively as possible. So, there’s a general definition or explanation. Here are some examples of projects: introducing a new product to the marketplace, building and installing a piece of equipment, and running a political campaign. In contrast, the following activities are not projects: operating a manufacturing facility, supervising a work group, and running a retail business. These activities are ongoing.

There are three main characteristics of a project


   1. Temporary Endeavor
      A. Opportunity or Market Window
      B. Project team seldom outlives project
   2. Unique Product, Result or Service
       A. Project Product, Service or result is not temporary
       B. Uniqueness is an important characteristic
   3. Progressive Elaboration
       A. Works in steps or increments
       B. Coordinated with proper scope and definition


 

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