What is a Project?

There are many ways to define a project; the most adopted are:

A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. PMBOK v6

¨A project consists of a unique set of processes consisting of coordinated and controlled activities with start and end dates, performed to achieve project objectives. Achievement of the project objectives requires the provision of deliverables conforming to specific requirements. A project may be subject to multiple constraints. ISO21500

A project is can most aptly be defined as a set of interrelated tasks focused upon the achievement of a goal.  Upon initial consideration, most things may be defined as projects and it’s not until you start deconstructing the definition that the characteristics of projects come to light.

A project is based upon a set of interrelated tasks: Tasks within projects are aligned towards the completion of a goal and as a result a great deal of interrelationships exists between individual tasks.  This is explored further in Project Management specifically when considering project schedules and task relationships (predecessors and successors).  The critical point being that project’s objective will define the work required; and the project is complete upon the successful achievement of all tasks.

Finite: Projects are defined as finite endeavours; both in scope (work required) and duration. This characteristic is a result of the goal focused nature of projects, as once the goal has been achieved the project itself can conclude.  Projects are often termed “unique” as once the goal has been attained there is no ongoing requirement for an exact repeat.  Due to the unique nature of projects, it can be difficult to base upon previous endeavours and with this limited information projects carry with them an inherent risk.   In project management the goal or project output is termed the “deliverable” and whilst the project is finite, the deliverable can live on past the project’s life.

Project work is coordinated through an approach called Project Management.

Project Management is different to Program Management, this term is used to define the management of multiple and related projects or strategic project management.

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