Sif E. Elharti's Blog

Even small acts can have a great impact…

Project Management: Part 2 – Basic concepts

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The PMI definition of a project in the PMBOK Guide fourth edition is as following: “A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.” (page 5).

It comes out from this definition that a project has the following characteristics:

  • First of all, a unique target or goal: this can be either a physical result as a build a bridge or a house, or logical result as an audit report about a company. This last example even if it may seem physical (a report) but actually the result is the content, analysis and recommendations, and not the physical container used to express it.
  •  The second characteristic is the limitation in time: a project has a starting and ending dates. And the term “temporary” is the PMBOK definition is used to enforce this characteristic.

Project / operation / Product

The second characteristic above mustn’t be neglected since many people are mixing project, operation and product concepts.

Let’s clarify that through some examples. Build a house, for a building company, is a project. Each new house is a new project even if the same tasks must be done repetitively. On the other hand, paying employees (builders for example) is an operation, a repetitive task with a unique goal but with no ending date while the company is active.  For software providers, a product is the deliverable software that responds to some users needs. It has no ending date while the product is on the market and maintained. Yet, working on each new version or release of that product is a project with the new version as target and a timeframe within which it should be done.

Notice here the use “should” instead of “must” or “will”. All project stakeholders would like it to be “will” but, unfortunately, it’s not the case because things don’t go always as we want them to do (We will more see about that in further posts). But for now, just remember a project has a starting date and “must” have an ending date even if it’s aborted.

See you later

Sif E. Elharti,

Even small acts can have a great impact…


Written by selharti

January 9, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Project Management

Tagged with , ,

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