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What Is a Project

Dick Billows, PMP
DicK Billows, PMP

Wondering about what is a project and what is not? Here is an example of a project.

The manager of the department you work in tells you the people are wasting time getting supplies from the supply room. He wants you to do a project to fix the problem.

Most projects are small like this example and will have three or four people work on them. They have a specific objective and the goal is to achieve it; so we do the project only once. Things we repeat over and over is called operations.  If you keep doing the same project over and over, obviously you’re not achieving the results the manager wanted. Some projects are much bigger than that example but the characteristics of projects are the same; they have a special and specific objectives and we do them once. Examples of projects include:

  • opening a new business
  • developing a computer program to process payroll
  • resurfacing highway
  • opening a new healthcare clinic
  • What is a Projectbuilding a swimming pool

All of those efforts are projects and all follow the same general steps:

  1. Project initiation– in this first step, a manager or executive comes up with the idea for the project and gives a project manager and other people an overview of the idea. The initiation process often includes securing organizational approval for spending money on a project. When approval is given, we begin planning.
  2. Project planning– when we’re doing a project, we need to communicate what we’re trying to produce. That’s called the scope and that’s defined by the executive who initiated the project. The project plan may also include a budget, a schedule, and the people we need to work on delivering the scope. Larger projects have much more extensive plans and stakeholders, people who are affected by the project. The project manager presents the project plan and schedule to the organization and when it’sapproved, we begin to execute the plan.
  3. Executing the project– most of the time and money on a project is spent during the executing phase. This is where we actually perform all the tasks specified in the project plan. In those tasks, the team produces the deliverables. After they’re produced, the project executive or stakeholders review and accept the deliverables. They may also ask for changes. While all that’s going on, the project manager is monitoring everything.
  4. Monitoring and controlling– the project manager will monitor actual results and compare them to the plan and identified variances between the two. When there are differences between the plan and actual results, the project manager works to correct them.
  5. Closing– when the final deliverable has been produced and accepted, the project needs to be closed out. That involves holding a lessons learned meeting so we don’t the same mistakes on future projects. Archiving data from the project makes future projects easier and more successful.

You learn all of those skills in our project management basics courses. Take a look at the basics course in your specialty.

At the beginning, when you and Dick talk to design your program and what you want to learn, you will select case studies that fit the kind of projects you want to manage. Chose you course and then select the which specialty case study from business, or marketing,  or construction, or healthcare, or consulting.  That way your case studies and project plans, schedules and presentations will fit your desired specialty.

  1. 101 Project Management Basics
  2. 103 Advanced Project Management Tools
  3. 201 Managing Programs, Portfolios & Multiple Projects
  4. 203 Presentation and Negotiation Skills
  5. 304 Strategy & Tactics in Project management