What Is a Project Pmbok Section

You're a project manager, so you've probably got a good idea of what a project is already. I'm hoping. The PMBOK defines a project as "a temporary endeavor to create a unique product, service, or result." Projects, like good stories, have a definite beginning and a definite end. A project is over when the product, service, or result is created. Or, in not so pleasant times, when it becomes evident that the project won't be able to create the product, service, or result for whatever reason (skills, cost, time, or any other reason that you can think of why a project might be stopped).

Temping a Project

Some project managers get hung up on the idea of a project being temporary. After all, some projects can last for years or decades—but they don't last forever. Projects are temporary in that they have a definite ending somewhere in the future. Projects—at least, most projects—create something that will last for some time, usually longer than the project team or even the time to complete the project itself. Consider a project to build a house, create a park, or develop a software application. These deliverables will be utilized for some duration of time. In other words, the project ends, but the benefits and deliverables of the project continue.

Notice I said that project deliverables usually last longer than the project itself. There are some special projects where this isn't true—such as a project to host a trade show, an event, or a fantastic party. Once the party is over, the project is also over and all's done.

"Temporary" can also refer to the market window status. Remember the Internet dot-com boom? It was definitely temporary. I'm sure in your business you can identify examples of market windows that were temporary. Project teams are also examples of temporary structures: The team comes together, does the work of the project, and then once the project is over, so is the project team.

Defining a Project's Uniqueness

Ready for a horrible joke? How do you catch a unique rabbit? Unique up on him. (As in, "You sneak up on him." My son loved this joke when he was eight, not so much anymore.) The point of the joke is that uniqueness means that it's different from the rest of your organization's operations. Consider the creation of a new car. The designing, drafting, modeling, and the creative process of creating a new car could be a project. The manufacturing of the automobile, however, typically isn't a project—that's operations. Unique things that a project can create include:

• Products as an end result of a project, such as a piece of software

• Products that are component pieces for other projects, such as the blueprints for a new warehouse

• A new service that will be integrated into your organization's functions, such as a help desk or an Internet application

• A result of your project could create something like a feasibility study, research and development outcomes, or trend analysis

Progressively Elaborating a Project

Progressive elaboration is a process that all projects move through. The project manager and the project team start very broad—typically with a project's concepts—and then the concept is refined with details, studies, and discussion until a project scope statement is formed. The scope statement may pass through additional steps to continue to refine the project's objectives.

Did you ever read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories? Holmes would create a very broad theory of the mystery's solution and then, through a scientific approach and deductive reasoning, narrow his theory over and over until he finally solved the case. He started very broad and then narrowed his hypothesis. This is one example of progressive elaboration, although Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never called it that. Basically, progressive elaboration means that you start with a very broad concept and then, through steady progressions, you gather more detail to clarify the concept your project centers on. Figure 1-4 is a simple example of progressive elaboration with a project to create a new home.

Figure 1-4

Progressive elaboration means progressing through steady, incremental steps.

Why Do Projects?

Projects are typically work that doesn't fall into an organization's normal operations. Basically, projects are chunks of work that need to be completed, but the work doesn't necessarily fall into any predefined function of an organization, such as accounting or sales.

Projects can also be managed by organizations that complete projects all the time for other organizations. Consider an IT consulting company that swoops into company after company to install and configure new networks, servers, or computer software. Or consider an architectural firm that designs buildings for other companies. Or think of practically any service-based business, and you'll find a performing organization that completes projects for other entities.

Organizations that treat practically every undertaking as a project are likely participating in management by projects. This means that they operate by relying heavily on project management principles to complete their work. This isn't unusual in consulting agencies, construction firms, or IT shops—their existence is by management by projects.

Projects are most likely undertaken for any of the following reasons:

• Opportunity The market demand may call for a project to create a new product, service, or solution.

• Organizational needs I bet you can identify some needs within your company that would make dandy projects: upgrading computers, training your staff, changing the menu in the company cafeteria. Usually, organizational needs focus on reducing costs or increasing revenue, and sometimes both (bonus!).

• Customers Your customers have things that they want you to create for them. Sometimes, these requests develop into projects.

• Technology Technology seems to change and advance daily, and this often spurs new projects to keep up or ahead of competitors. Know any IT gurus out there managing technical projects?

• Legal requirements Laws and regulations can cause new projects. Publicly traded companies have been required to secure their IT data in compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Health care organizations must adhere with HIPAA requirements. And U.S. companies have been working with OSHA requirements for years and years. Initial conformance to these requirements often creates new projects.

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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