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A project is an one-time effort limited by time (it has a starting date and a fixed end date), characterized by specific goals and conditions, with defined resources, budget, responsibilities and planning. It is non-routine and complex activity which involves multiple parties in operation.

Project Management Institute (PMI) defines a Project as:

"A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a product or service"

NASA/Air Force created its own project definition:

"A project is within a program as an undertaking with a scheduled beginning and end, and which normally involves some primary purpose"

Some project managers define a successful project in the following way:

"Select a dream,
Use your dream to set a goal,
Create a plan,
Consider resources,
Enhance skills and abilities,
Spend time wisely,
Start! Get organized and go..."

Defining the Project includes the following steps

Step 1: Defining the Project Scope

A definition of the end result or mission of the project. The outcome of this step are Scope Statements and a Project Charter.

Step 2: Establishing Project Priorities

Identifying the causes of Project Trade-offs, shifts in the relative importance of criterions related to cost, time and performance parameters.

Step 3: Creating the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

WBS indentifies the products and work elements involved in a project. It is an hierarchical outline (map), which provides management with information appropriate to each organizational level.

Step 4: Integrating the WBS with the Organization

This step provides a framework to summarize organization work unit performance

Step 5: Coding the WBS for the Information System

Allows reports to be consolidated at any level in the organization structure

Major Characteristics of a Project

The following aspects have to be considered while describing a project:

  1. A defined life span with starting date and fixed end date.

The project life-cycle phases contain design, development, fabrication, testing and operation.

  1. Specific and established goals and conditions.

The objectives ought to be well characterized and definitive, assuring a singular goal for a project. Project objectives relate to performance, time and cost of a project.

  1. Defined responsibilities.

During the life of a project, all involved team members are responsible for specific project phases relating time, cost and performance of a project.

  1. Planning

Planning includes the sequence of performed activities, names of people responsible for an each activity, and the time required to accomplish each project phase. It provides the answers on the questions: what? how? why? when? where? who?

  1. Budget.

The all budget expenditures have to be formally drafted, introduced and approved.

  1. Parties involved.

A project requires across-the-organizational participation, which means that multiple departments or people have to work together, sharing their experience, knowledge and commitment to a project.

  1. Involves doing something never been done before.

The effort accompanying a project is non-routine and has unique attributes

Types of projects

The four categories of projects can be distinguished:

1. Individual projects

The projects typically assigned to a particular individual, usually a project- or functional manager. The main feature of these projects is a short life span.

2. Staff projects

The projects normally assigned to one organizational unit, i.e. a department. Involved staff is responsible for an each project section.

3. Special projects

The complexity of these kind of projects requires attendance and support of specific primary functions or authority, which help to manage more problematic aspects of a project. This cooperation is the most efficient in case of short-term projects.

4. Matrix or aggregate projects

These projects involve larger number of specific (or specialized) functional and business units to manage substantial resources.

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Author: Ewa Szczepankiewicz