CONCEPTS, DEFINITIONS AND NATURE OF PROJECTS
What is a project?
Attributes of a project
Characteristics of projects
Projects and strategic planning
Examples of projects
2.1 What is a Project?
J. M. Juran defined that
“a project is a problem scheduled for solution.” Problem refers to
gap between where you are and where you want to be, with an obstacle that
movement to close the gap.
Projects are a group of activities that have to be performed with limited
resources to yield
specific objectives, in a specific time, and in a specific locality. Thus,
a project is a temporary
endeavour employed to create a unique product, service or results.
Projects are an
investment on which resources are used to create assets that will produce
benefits over an
expanded period of time. It is a unique process, consisting of a set of
coordinated and controlled
activities with start and finish dates, undertaken to achieve an objective
conforming to specific
requirements, including the constraints of
2.1.1 Short Range Projects:
They are completed within one year, and are focused towards achieving the
objectives. They are less rigorous; require less or no risk. They are not
These projects require limited Project Management tools, and have low level
sophistication. It is easy to obtain approval, funding and organizational
support for short
range projects. For example, reduce defect in shop number two from 6 to 4
2.1.2 Long Range Projects:
These projects involve higher risk and a proper feasibility analysis is
starting such projects. They are most often cross functional. Their major
impact is over
long period of time, on internal as well as external organization. Large
resources are required to undertake long range projects and they require
initiatives from the members.
2.2 Why Projects are initiated?
Projects are initiated in the following scenarios:
- When starting a new business.
- In order to develop/ modify a product or service.
- For relocating and/or closing a facility.
- For regulatory mandate.
- For some community issues.
- In order to re-engineer the process so as to reduce complaints,
reduce cycle time, and eliminate errors.
- For implementing a new system or process.
- To introduce new equipment, tools or techniques.
2.3 Attributes of a Project:
Projects focus on a single goal as compared to a program. They have customers
affected by the end results. They have to be completed within specified time
date), within budget (limited resources including, people, money, machines)
and should be
according to the specifications (with a certain level of functionality and
In brief projects are:
- Directed towards achieving a specific result.
- Coordination of undertaking of interrelated activities.
- Of limited duration, a beginning and an end.
- Prone to risks, that is, every project has a certain amount of risk.
2.4 Characteristics of Projects:
- As already mentioned projects are temporary with a definite
beginning and a definite end.
- They also have temporary opportunities and temporary teams.
- Projects are terminated when the objectives are achieved, or
conversely, if the objectives cannot be met.
- Most of the projects last for several years. However, they have a
- They involve multiple resources (human and non-human) and require
- They are composed of interdependent activities.
- At the end of the project, a unique product, service or result is
created. Some degree of customization is also a characteristic of projects.
- Projects encompass complex activities that are not simple, and may
require repetitive acts.
- They also include some connected activities. Some order and sequence
is required in project activities. The output from one activity is an input to another.
- Project Management lives in the world of conflict. The management
has to compete with
- functional departments for “resources and personnel”.
- There exists a constant conflict for project resources and for
leadership roles in solving project problems.
- In every project, clients want changes, and the parent organization
aims at maximization of profits.
- There can be two bosses at a time and that too with different
priorities and objectives.
2.5 Project Environment:
All projects are planned and implemented in a social, economic,
environmental, political and
Cultural and Social Environment is that how a
project affects the people and how they
affect the project. This requires understanding of economic, demographic,
religious and cultural sensitivity issues.
International and Political Environment
refers to the knowledge of international, national,
regional or local laws and customs, time zone differences, teleconferencing
of use of technology, national holidays, travel means and logistic
Physical Environment is the knowledge about
local ecology and physical geography that
could affect the project, or be affected by the project.
2.6 Project Participants:
Stakeholders are the ones who have a share, or an interest in an enterprise.
in a company may include shareholders, directors, management, suppliers,
employees, customers, and the community. Stakeholders are influenced by the
outcomes and objectives. They have varying level of responsibility and
they should not be ignored. A project manager should try to manage and
expectations of the stakeholders. There are both positive and negative
some cases, stake holder’s roles and responsibilities are overlapping. For
engineering firm also provides financing.
Project stakeholders are individuals and organizations that are actively
involved in the
project, or whose interests may be affected as a result of project execution
completion. They may also exert influence over the project’s objectives and
The project management team must identify the stakeholders, determine their
requirements and expectations, and, to the extent possible, manage their
relation to the requirements to ensure a successful project.
As already mentioned, stakeholders have varying levels of responsibility and
when participating on a project and these can change over the course of the
life cycle. Their responsibility and authority range from occasional
surveys and focus groups to full project sponsorship, which includes
and political support. Stakeholders who ignore this responsibility can have a
impact on the project objectives. Likewise, project managers who ignore
can expect a damaging impact on project outcomes.
Sometimes, stakeholder identification can be difficult. For example, some
that an assembly-line worker, whose future employment depends on the outcome
new product-design project, is a stakeholder. Failure to identify a key
cause major problems for a project.
Stakeholders may have a positive or negative influence on a project. Positive
stakeholders are those who would normally benefit from a successful outcome
project, while negative stakeholders are those who see negative outcomes from
project’s success. For example, business leaders from a community that will
from an industrial expansion project may be positive stakeholders because
economic benefit to the community from the project’s success. Conversely,
environmental groups could be negative stakeholders if they view the project
harm to the environment. In the case of positive stakeholders, their
interests are best
served by helping the project succeed, for example, helping the project
needed permits to proceed. The negative stakeholders’ interests would be
by impeding the project’s progress by demanding more extensive environmental
reviews. Negative stakeholders are often overlooked by the project team at
the risk of
failing to bring their projects to a successful end.
2.6.2 Key Stakeholders:
Key stakeholders include the following:
a) Project Manager:
The person, who is responsible for managing the project.
b) Customers, End Users:
The person or organization that will use the project’s product. These may be
multiple layers of customers. For example, the customer for a new
product can include the doctors who prescribe it, the patient who take it and
insurers who pay for it. In some application areas, customers and user are
synonymous, while in others, customer refers to the entity acquiring the
product and users are those who will directly utilizes the project’s product.
c) Performing Organization:
The enterprise whose employees are most directly involved in doing the work
d) Project Management Working on the Project:
The members of the team who are directly involved in project management
e) Project Team Members:
The group that is performing the work of the project. It includes the members
are directly involved in the project activities.
The person or group that provides financial resources, in cash, or kind, for
People or groups that are not directly related to the acquisition or use of
project’s product, but due to an individual’s position in the customer
or performing organization, can influence, positively or negatively, the
h) Project Management Organization:
If it exists in performing organization, the Project Management Organization
a stakeholder if it has direct responsibility for the outcomes of the
2.6.3 Project Stakeholders:
In addition to these key stakeholders, there are many different names and
project stakeholders, influencing internal or external, owners and
investors, sellers and
contractors, team members and their families, government agencies and media
individual citizens, temporary or permanent lobbing organizations, and
The naming or grouping of stakeholders is primarily an aid to identifying
individuals and organizations view themselves as stakeholders. Project
manage stakeholder expectations, which can be difficult because stakeholders
have very different or conflicting objectives.
• The manager of a department that has requested a new management
system may desire low cost, the system architect may emphasize technical
excellence, and the programming contractor may be most interested in
• The vice president of research at an electronics firm may define new
success as state-of-the-art technology, the vice president of manufacturing
define it as world-class practices, and the vice president of marketing may
primarily concerned with the number of new features.
• The owner of a real estate development project may be focused on
performance, the local governing body may desire to maximize tax revenue, an
environmental group may wish to minimize adverse environmental impacts, and
nearby residents may hope to relocate the project.
2.7 Projects and Strategic Planning:
Projects are the means of achieving organization’s strategic plans. Following
are the strategic
considerations that have to be kept in mind while planning for projects:
- The market demand (e.g. a new refinery).
- Organizational needs (e.g. a university offers new courses for
- Customer’s requests (e.g. an Internet Service Provider ISP provider
- Technological demand (e.g. new video games, new cell phones with
- Legal requirements (e.g. child labor control project, toxic waste
2.8 Sub Projects:
Projects are frequently divided into more manageable components or sub
sub projects are also a project and are managed as such. They can be sub
contracted or out
2.9 The Triple Constraint of Project Management:
Meeting stakeholder needs and expectations involves balancing competing
cost, quality, scope, and time.
Q = f (T, C, S)
- Where Q is Quality, S is Scope and T is Time.
- Project quality is affected by balancing these three factors.
- Projects fail when:
a) Estimates are faulty
b) Time, talent and resources are insufficient or incorrectly applied
Figure 2.4 is a pictorial representation of project management. The objective
of the figure is to
show that project management is designed to manage or control company
resources on a given
activity, within time, within cost, and within performance expectations.
Time, cost, and
performance are the constraints on the project. If the project is to be
accomplished for an
outside customer, then the project has a fourth constraint: that is good
2.10 Examples of Projects:
- Designing and implementing an auto tax filing system in a revenue
- Hosting a web site of your department.
- Executing an environmental clean-up of a contaminated site.
- Holding a University alumni reunion.
- Provision of clean water to Pakistani nation by 2008.
- Developing a new product or service.
- Effecting a change in structure, staffing, or style of an
- Developing or acquiring a new or modified information system.
2.11 Operations and Projects:
are ongoing and repetitive activities conducted by the staff. Some of these
- Financial management and control
- Continuous manufacturing
- Product distribution
are temporary and unique, and are performed by teams that have:
- Clearly defined team and individual roles
- Open and effective communication systems
- Visible rewards for good performance, and have constant pressure to
improve poor performance
between operations and projects are as follows:
- They are both performed by people
- They are constrained by limited resources
- Both are planned, executed, and controlled
2.12 Project Types:
Type I Projects – Large Engineering Projects:
They have well defined project methods and end project requirements, such as
Type II Projects – Product Development Projects, Early Space
They have poorly defined project methods but have well defined project end
Type III Projects – Software Development Projects:
In these, the shape of end product proceeds. They have well defined project
poorly defined project end requirements.
Type IV Projects – Organizational Development Projects, Vision
of Impact of Trainings:
They have both poorly defined project methods as well as project end
Why are systems necessary?
Many companies are structured. There are always "class
or prestige" gaps
between various levels of management. There are also functional gaps between
working units of
the organization. If we superimpose the management gaps on top of the
functional gaps, we find
that companies are made up of small operational islands that refuse to
communicate with one
another for fear that giving up information may strengthen their opponents.
The project manager's responsibility is to get these islands to communicate
toward common goals and objectives.
Projects fill an essential need in society. Indeed, projects are the major
mode in which change is
accomplished. It is the mode in which corporate strategy is implemented,
business change is
addressed, productive teams and their necessary competencies are dealt with,
deliverables, and tracking pre-established metrics for management’s decision
making, as well as
closing out a project and creating lessons learned are performed.
This discipline changes over time but the basic business premise never
Accomplish the right thing right the first time within justifiable time,
resources, and budget.
Projects are the means for responding to, if not proactively anticipating,
the environment and
opportunities of the future.