What are Projects?
Most people at some point in their lives will be part of a project team or need to manage their own project. Yes really! You don’t need to work in IT or Computing or be on The Apprentice to find projects interesting or valuable. Anything from creating a piece of software or website, designing and building a new car model, to organising a wedding or renovating a house all share similar terminology and techniques.
Unfortunately Projects, as with a lot of terms used in IT, business and commerce are shrouded in mystery, jargon and confusion. Hopefully I can debunk some of this jargon.
So what is a project anyway?
Projects are the means to solve problems – or in management speak, to respond to opportunities. A Project can be a useful way to manage your time and resources for most human activities that start with the question ‘How do I …?’
Projects have a number of distinguishing features. Although not a comprehensive list, the following should apply to every project:
- It is a one-off unique endeavour – so not a repeated activity like a factory production line.
- It is time-bound with definite start and end points.
- It has a demonstrable and testable outcome and achieves some stated benefits, expectations or needs (sometimes referred to as Requirements).
- Involves the active management of resources, such as people or money, according to some proposed schedule of activities.
Projects normally involve more that one person working together in a non-trivial exercise, so not making a cup of tea or a completing a to-do list!
And that’s it. No complicated computing terms, no mention of budgets, or project plans, or the role of a Project Manager…but these things can be added into the mix later.
If you found this interesting, you can read about more IT Elements and related topics at the IT elementary school.
(c) 2015 Antony Lawrence CBA Ltd.