What is a project

Every characteristic described so far has helped to describe the nature of projects, but what is a project? Many definitions exist, including the following:

e a unique set of events with a main goal and defined objectives and agreed plans for achieving that goal; e an activity with a specified beginning and end date that is intended to meet stated objectives; e a temporary effort undertaken to create a unique product or service;

e any organised campaign to change/improve something.

However, none of these properly consider a project in the wider sense that it delivers the outcome, including the benefits that justify it.

A project is better defined succinctly as a temporary management envi ronment created to deliver a specified outcome according to a defined business justification:

e A temporary management environment. A project can be thought of as a commercial company intended to last for a defined period. It will share many of the characteristics of a business, being composed of people, objectives, plans and controls. It is the governance that knits them together and provides the order and structure that maximises the probability of success. The management environment needs to stay in place no longer than it takes to implement the specified outcome. e Created to deliver a specified outcome. This is the goal, objective, product, service or situation referred to in some of the other definitions. The desired result must be defined in terms of timescale, cost and quality. e According to a defined business justification. This is why the temporary management environment has been created. It is not simply to produce a result; that result must benefit the organisation.

What is project management?

Project management is doing what it takes to make sure that all those with an interest in the project always have the same clear answers to the following questions:

e Who needs to be involved in managing a project? There may be many people who have an interest in the project for a wide variety of reasons. These are the project's stakeholders. While the project may benefit from their views and opinions, not all of them need to be involved in managing it. So it is necessary to establish clearly the roles, responsibilities and reporting arrangements of those specifically charged with directing and managing a project from start to completion. e What must a project deliver? A way of describing an outcome is to talk of it in terms of a deliverable. So the project must deliver a defined outcome such as the company operating procedures described in Figure 1.1 on page 9. However, there will also be deliverables needed along the way, all of which must be articulated sufficiently well in advance to increase the likelihood of achieving the intended result. Examples may include a project plan, a feasibility study report, a business case, a requirements specification, a marketing report or a piece of machinery. e When must it deliver? It is clearly necessary to identify a date for the end of the project, but there will be additional milestones that must be achieved throughout its life such as those identified above. Each must have its own completion date. e How much must be invested? How much will the project cost? The many projects that exceed their budgets are salutary evidence that costs must remain in focus throughout a project's life. e Why is this project necessary? If this question cannot be answered authoritatively and persuasively, it is doubtful that the project is justifiable.

Each of these five questions must be answered, and the answers must be genuinely understood and agreed by a project's authorities not merely at the beginning but also throughout a project's life. Furthermore, they must be clearly documented as part of the governance of the project.

But what about the environment outside the project? John Donne, an English poet and preacher who died in 1631, wrote, "No man is an island, entire of itself." The same is true of projects; they exist in a world in which they must compete with the demands of business as usual and the benefits other projects are proposing. Therefore, the wider organisation must support the concept of project management, not just a single project.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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