Projects versus Operations

Projects are temporary in nature and have definitive start dates and definitive end dates. The project is completed when its goals and objectives are accomplished to the satisfaction of the stakeholders. Sometimes projects end when it's determined that the goals and objectives cannot be accomplished or when the product, service, or result of the project is no longer needed and the project is canceled. Projects exist to bring about a product, service, or result that didn't exist before. This might include tangible products, services such as consulting or project management, and business functions that support the organization. Projects might also produce a result or an outcome, such as a document that details the findings of a research study. In this sense, a project is unique. However, don't get confused by the term unique. For example, Ford Motor Company is in the business of designing and assembling cars. Each model that Ford designs and produces can be considered a project. The models differ from each other in their features and are marketed to people with various needs. An SUV serves a different purpose and clientele than a luxury sedan or a hybrid. The initial design and marketing of these three models are unique projects. However, the actual assembly of the cars is considered an opera-tion—a repetitive process that is followed for most makes and models.

Determining the characteristics and features of the different car models is carried out through what the PMBOK® Guide terms progressive elaboration. This means the characteristics of the product, service, or result of the project (the hybrid, for example) are determined incrementally and are continually refined and worked out in detail as the project progresses. More information and better estimates become available the further you progress in the project. Progressive elaboration improves the project team's ability to manage greater levels of detail and allows for the inevitable change that occurs throughout a project's life cycle. This concept goes along with the temporary and unique aspects of a project because when you first start the project, you don't know all the minute details of the end product. Product characteristics typically start out broad-based at the beginning of the project and are progressively elaborated into more and more detail over time until they are complete and finalized.

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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