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Table of contents

Contents

Page #

Introduction------------------------------------------------------------------2
Definition-------------------------------------------------------------------- 2
Etymology------------------------------------------------------------------- 2
Way to define a project---------------------------------------------------- 3
1. The Purpose (or Mission) ------------------------------------- 3
2. Goals-------------------------------------------------------------3
3. The Beneficial Gains or Scope--------------------------------3
4. Objectives--------------------------------------------------------4
5. Key Success Criteria (KSC) ---------------------------------- 4
6. Deliverables ---------------------------------------------------- 4
7. Project Constraints----------------------------------------------4
8. Risk Analysis---------------------------------------------------- 5
Conclusion------------------------------------------------------------------- 5
References------------------------------------------------------------------- 6

How would you define a project?


Introduction:
The important point to remember about a project is that it only happens once. It has a
defined start and a defined end and the resources gathered to manage it are usually
organized on a temporary basis. A very similar project may happened again but it will not
be absolutely identical because there will be something about the project which will have
changed. Even if it is only the weather will be different. Thus, although project
management expertise can be carried over from one project to another, project managers
must, to some extent, treat each project as an individual and unique task.
(wps.pearsoned.co.uk)

Definition:
A project can be defined as
A project in business and science is typically defined as a
collaborative enterprise, frequently involving research or design
that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim.
(wikipedia.com)
OR
Projects can be further defined as temporary rather than
permanent social systems that are constituted by teams within or
across organizations to accomplish particular tasks under time
constraints.
(wikipedia.com)
OR
Endeavour in which human (or machine), material and financial
resources are organised in a novel way, to undertake a unique
scope of work, or given specification, within constraints of cost
and time, so as to deliver beneficial change by quantitative and
qualitative objectives.
( libweb.surrey.ac.uk)
OR
A project is a process of selection and reduction of the ideas and
perspectives of those involved into a set of clearly
defined objectives, key success criteria and evaluated risks.
(www.spottydog.u-net.com)

Etymology:
The word project comes from the Latin word projectum from the Latin verb proicere, "to
throw something forward" which in turn comes from pro-, which denotes something
that precedes the action of the next part of the word in time (paralleling the Greek )
2

and iacere, "to throw". The word "project" thus actually originally meant "something
that comes before anything else happens". When the English language initially
adopted the word, it referred to a plan of something, not to the act of actually carrying
this plan out. Something performed in accordance with a project became known as an
"object".
(wikipedia.com)

Way to define a project:


The way to define a project is to ask a standard set of questions of you (as project leader)
the project team, colleagues with particular expertise and senior managers. The questions
fall into the categories given below.

1. The Purpose (or Mission):


This is the reason for doing the project

What is the project about in broad terms?


Who wants it done and why?
What is its title?
(www.spottydog.u-net.com)

2. The Goals:
These are the targets we want to meet

What is it we want to achieve?


When do we want to achieve it?
What are our specific aims?
Why are these goals essential to the project?
(www.spottydog.u-net.com)

3. The Beneficial Gains or Scope:


This is how our organization will gain. Here we define our performance criteria and set
our quality standards for the project.

How will things be different if the project is successfully completed?


Is there a clear need and can it be quantified?
Who will benefit, how will they benefit and what will they gain?
Do the beneficiaries agree about the need and the proposed solution?
Is the project to identify that need and/or that solution?
How will they react to that solution?
What are the alternatives?
Are those alternatives more or less acceptable (satisfactory)?
Is how we are going to achieve the goals an important part of the beneficial gain?

How important is the project in comparison to other projects


How important is this project to you?
What is it worth to you or to others to have the need satisfied?
(www.spottydog.u-net.com)

4. Objectives:
We need to define specific measurable objectives from our broad aims. These objectives
will tell us if we have met our goals and to what standard. From our list of specific goals
for the project we must develop a set of measurable objectives that will confirm that we
have reached certain project milestones (or way points) including the final one of project
completion. The measurable objectives (when achieved) demonstrate the extent to which
the beneficial gains have been achieved, the goals have been met and that the purpose of
the project has been achieved.
(www.spottydog.u-net.com)

5. Key Success Criteria (KSC):


These are the objectives that, if all else fails, we must meet and/or those that we must
meet for the project to be deemed successful even if other objectives are met and
achieved. From the list of objectives select those that are critical or key to the success of
the of the project. These are the items that are critical to those who will benefit from the
project and those with the responsibilities for judging success criteria (Managers,
Customers, Members, Shareholders, and Stakeholders etc.). The purpose of this is
twofold. Firstly, to clarify in the minds of the project team and service managers what are
the essential benefits that the project will deliver. Secondly, if circumstances change
within the life of the project then it is often extremely useful to see what were the agreed
success criteria at the start of the project. The project may then be replanned to ensure the
KSC are met or the KSC may be formally changed (by Senior Managers in the light of
changed circumstances) and the project redefined and replanned to ensure they are met.
(www.spottydog.u-net.com)

6. Deliverables:
The fundamental objective of a project is to deliver something new. It is not always easy
to distinguish between aims (goals), objectives and deliverables. If the project is to create
new products or modify existing ones, then the list of deliverable items may be as simple
as a set of part or product numbers. It may be 3 sets; new parts or products, obsolete parts
or products and products or parts not affected by the project. These deliverables are easily
distinguishable from the goal and the objectives
(www.spottydog.u-net.com)

7. Project Constraints:
Every project has constraints. The primary ones are the trade off
between Time, Resources and Performance Criteria. We must define our project so that
we can manage these constraints. To define our project we have to make some hard
choices to select and balance these constraints.

a. Resources:
Resources are people, equipment and money. They may be internal or external and
include suppliers, contractors, partners, statutory bodies, governments, banks, loans,
grants, expert opinion (Lawyers, Accountants, and Consultants), etc. It is vital that we
select our projects with the utmost care to maximize the use of that resource. Defining
projects helps us to make this selection objectively and rationally.
b. Time:
If we choose to reduce the Resource Days by increasing the Resource Capability this will
not necessarily reduce the Total Cost because the reduction in resource days may be out
weighed by the increased Resource Cost. However, improved Resource Capability will
reduce the task time and there is often a delivery Time Cost associated with a project so
that the cost to the organization will be less or its income improved. This is the so called
window of opportunity factor. So it is self evident that there is always a trade off decision
to be made between Time, Resources and Performance Criteria. This is why the Project
Definition is so important. It allows us to define that trade off, to have the senior
managers approve it and the consequent allocation of resources.

8. Risk Analysis:
We need to identify, quantify and make contingency plans to deal with project risks. The
constraints on a project are one form of risk. The project may well have specific
constraints that lead to identifiable risks A risk is anything that will have a negative
impact on any one or all of the primary project constraints. Risk can be reduced by

analyzing what is essential data, what accurate data is and what is merely nice
to have.
(www.spottydog.u-net.com)

Conclusion:
The project definition activity is extremely critical to future project success. It will
reduce the number of unexpected events and surprises that will occur. A good project
definition will minimize the likelihood of cost and schedule overruns. Senior
management will have more confidence that the project team will be successful and will
not be repeatedly asking for more time, people and dollars. There are no dumb questions
when it comes to project definition and planning. A constructive devils advocate is
useful during this activity. Remember that a good project plan is invaluable.

References:

libweb.surrey.ac.uk; available at
http://libweb.surrey.ac.uk/library/skills/Project%20management%202/What
%20is%20a%20project.ppt searched on 28 February 2012, 10:08 pm

wikipedia.com; available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Projectnt searched


on 28 February 2012, 10:00 pm

wps.pearsoned.co.uk; available at
http://wps.pearsoned.co.uk/ema_uk_he_slack_opsman_4/17/4473/1145092.c
w/index.html searched on 28 February 2012, 10:25 pm

www.spottydog.u-net.com; available at http://www.spottydog.unet.com/guides/define/frameset.html searched on 28 February 2012, 10:15 pm

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