On this blog, I have written about many topics related to project and project management but not on project and project management, program, program management, portfolio and portfolio management
I am writing a series of blog posts on these topics, starting with “What is a project, its definition, features, and examples.”
I hope after reading these blog posts, you won’t have any doubts about these concepts.
Let’s start with the project.
What is a Project?
According to the PMBOK Guide, a project is defined as a “temporary endeavor to create a unique product, service or result.”
Projects are undertaken to fulfill objectives by producing deliverables. A deliverable is a unique and verifiable product or result; it can be tangible or intangible.
The term “temporary” is not applied to the project output; the project is finite, not the result.
Projects create a unique product, result, or service that is not repetitive. Though many construction projects build similar buildings, bridges or dams, etc., they are all unique products.
If the output is repetitive, it is an operation. Operations have repetitive output; for example, car manufacturing.
A project has the following features:
- Temporary Nature: All projects are temporary in nature. This means, once the project’s objective is achieved, it ceases to exist.
- Definite Timeline: A project has a definite, measurable, and achievable timeline with a definite start and end. A project cannot continue forever; it has a definite duration.
- Produces Output: All projects produce an output. The output can be a unique product or an enhancement, a unique service, or a result.
A few examples of a project are:
- Constructing a building
- Developing a new pharmaceutical compound
- Expanding a tour guide service
- Merging two organizations
- Exploring for oil in a region
- Modifying an organization’s software system
- Conducting research to develop a new manufacturing process
- Improving a business process within the organization
The most important characteristic of a project is its temporary nature; the project ends when it achieves its objective. The project can also end when:
- Funding is exhausted
- The project is no longer necessary
- Resources are no longer available
- The project is terminated for legal cause or convenience
Project Life Cycle
Projects undergo different phases, from initiation to completion. These phases are known as the project life cycle, which is a collection of logically related project processes.
The phases can be iterative, overlapped, or may be sequential. Phases are time-bound with a start and end or control point. These control points are known as “phase gate,” “control gate,” or “phase review.”
Though projects vary in size and the amount of complexity they contain, a typical project can be mapped to the following project life cycle:
- Starting the project
- Organizing and preparing
- Carrying out the work
- Closing the project
A project life cycle has many phases for developing a product, result, or service. These are called developmental life cycles. A project cycle can be:
- Iterative Life Cycle: Scope is planned early, but time and costs are modified as more scope details become available while the project progresses. Iterations develop the product through a series of repeated cycles, while increments successively add to the functionality of the product.
- Incremental Life Cycle: The deliverable is produced through a series of iterations that successfully add functionality within a predetermined time frame.
During their life cycle, all projects go through five phases. These phases are:
- Monitoring and Controlling
This is the first phase of the project where you officially launch the project. This phase has two important processes: approving project charter and identifying project stakeholders.
The project charter is the most important project document and contains vital information. It may have a result of the feasibility study, business case, summary cost-benefit analysis, key assumptions and constraints, project milestones, budget, duration, important stakeholders, etc.
It shows the project objective, project scope, and list required to complete the project and assign a project manager.
Identifying project stakeholders is the second process after the project charter is signed.
Your project is successful if your stakeholders are satisfied. If you fail to identify your stakeholders, you will face many hurdles in successfully completing the project.
You must identify your project stakeholders at the beginning of the project and manage them efficiently to complete the project successfully.
In this phase, you develop a comprehensive and detailed project management plan.
The project plan is also sometimes known as the project management plan. This document explains in detail how you will execute the project, monitor and control, and close.
You start your planning by collecting requirements and defining the scope. You then develop the schedule, set the deadline, and assign resources.
Then you develop other subsidiary project management plans, such as cost management plans, resource management plans, procurement plans, and risk management plans.
You may hold your first project kick-off meeting in this phase.
Rolling Wave Concept
Many times, the detailed project scope is often not available at the initial stage of the project. So you make detailed plans for the near-term work for which a detailed scope is available. For the rest of the work, you go for high-level planning. This phenomenon is known as “rolling wave planning.”
This is the longest phase of the project life cycle. In this phase, you develop the real product and spend most of your time and budget.
As a project manager, you have to manage your stakeholders, processes, and communication in this phase.
Any delay in this phase will affect your schedule, and you may surpass your budget and schedule. This will affect the team morale and thus the project’s progress.
You have to be proactive throughout the execution phase.
The project output is developed in this phase.
Monitoring and Controlling Phase
This phase happens concurrently with the execution phase. While executing the project plan, you will continuously monitor the progress for any deviation from the baseline.
If you observe any deviation in your plan, you will immediately take corrective action to solve the problem. You will also take preventive action to stop deviations from occurring.
In this phase, you control all aspects of your projects, including scope, cost, schedule, resource, risk, procurement, communication, etc.
This is the final phase of the project, and it has only one process: close project.
The key activities of this process are final product transition, final report preparation, project documents update, and updates in the organizational process assets.
Closing a project is not about just closing the project. You also complete the final transition of the product or service to the client.
You will check if all procurement contracts are closed and invoices are paid.
You will update your lessons learned document and other project documents. After updating these documents, you will store them in repositories as organizational process assets.
Finally, you will disband your project management team and release all team members so the organization can assign them to other projects.
Projects are undertaken to attain a specific objective, and once it is achieved, the project is closed. A project is a temporary organization and goes through five phases, from initiation to close. Every project is unique, and so its output.
Now, here is where this post on projects ends.
If you have any questions about projects, share them through the comments section, and I will reply to you.