Defining a project

“What is a project” is a commonly asked question from new or non project managers. To begin with a project has a number of common characteristics.

1/ A group of tasks carried out in a definable time period to meet a specific objective
2/ It has a defined start and end
3/ It has a defined scope and measurable tasks
4/ It has a budget
5/ It has resources and an organization

Projects usually have different processes and practices than usual business activity. Resources for example may be across traditional organization boundaries, commonly the project manager may not usually be responsible for the staff outside of the project.

Projects are traditionally centered around the delivery of a specific objective with project management concentrating on managing the tasks and resources.

A significant area of a project is the requirement of workscope – this defines the work that will be carried out and provides a means for the customer to review the deliverables against the original objectives at the end of the project.

Projects and project management are a key part of modern business – methodologies and routines have been established (such as Prince 2) to provide best practice frameworks – computer software and associated tools have also been developed to aide the project manager. There are many areas of project management and in later articles we’ll cover these in more detail.

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