What is a Project?


PMBOK says

“A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.”

hhmmm… lets try to simplify this by breaking it down.

There two very important words in the above statement you should understand.

temporary – it means, to qualify to be called a project it must have defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources.

Temporary does not mean the duration of a project is short.  It means that project would start at a specified date and it is going to end at a particular time in the future.   There are various ways project ends.  A project ends when project’s objectives have been achieved or it could happen that project has been terminated because end objectives will not or cannot be met.

One point to remember that Temporary does not applies to the product, services or result created by a project;  these are supposed to last longer.

unique – operation has to be unique in nature to termed it as a project.   A project has to be a set of non routine operation designed to accomplished a singular goal.  Outcome of the project may be tangible or intangible.   Even though activities or elements in the process are repetitive in nature, this repetition does not change the fundamental, unit characteristics of the project work.

so with this a simplified definition of a project is

“A unique set of activity(ies) which can be accomplished withing a specified time-frame.”

Example of projects include, but not limited to:

  • Developing a new product, service or result.
  • Improving, implementing any existing process, style or structure of an organization
  • Developing or acquiring software/hardware system
  • Any research activities
  • Any construction activities
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