What is a Project?



Table of Content




Definition of a Project:

A project is a temporary, one-time endeavour limited by time, budget, and resources undertaken to create a unique product, service or result that meets customer needs. It often starts from idea, to design, planning, execution, commissioning and handover or closing. Thus, most projects tasks are usually nonroutine or they are non-repetitive.

Constraints in a Project:

The definition of a project above logically leads us to the three major project constraints: Time, Cost and Scope. Cost and time are quite explicit in their definition. Scope is usually related to the uniqueness of the outcome.

Characteristics of a Project:

The characteristics of a project include the following: established objectives, cross-collaboration, uniqueness and specification of time, cost and scope. Each of these will be discussed below.

A project has defined objectives:

Projects should have established objectives, decided and agreed upon by all stakeholders. This should be done at the initiating stage. In deciding the objectives, the acronym SMART may be considered. That is, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. The objectives provide a common purpose and sense of direction for all team members. They provide a benchmark for the team achievement and accomplishment.

A project is unique:

Projects are usually unique when viewed in terms of project life cycle. That is, it is quite uncommon for the tasks of two similar projects to undergo the same sequence in each of the four stages of the project life cycle – initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing.
For example, in a set of two similar boreholes being constructed at different sites by the same contractor, it is not unlikely for the tasks involved to be sequenced differently for the two sites even when the ‘borehole projects’ are ‘similar’.

A project requires combined efforts of various departments:

Project participants with different skills, roles, and responsibilities in various departments are often seen to collaborate and work closely together under the supervision of a project manager to achieve a common purpose or solution.

A project is specific in time, cost and scope:

These triple constraints provide the basis upon which project goals are formulated. Furthermore, they also highlight the primary functions of project management. The triple constraints are limitations on what you can do. In other words, they are limitations that hinders the achievement of established goals.

Ana Arm
Author: Ana Arm

Estd. 2013

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