project meeting

Is this a Project? Some fundamental rules in defining a Project.

What constitutes a project in the real sense of the PMI:

  • Projects are always temporary in nature, therefore, they have a start data and an end date.
  • Projects are unique in nature and do not include repetitive actions because that was the case it would be deemed a routine operation.
  • Projects also must have specific goals and milestones that need to be delivered and met.

The construction of a bridge or the development of software are good examples of projects because they have a set start and end date and are each project in this case is unique.
You might ask why you need to know the definition of a project –
Well, once you’ve identified the task on hand as a project you need to employ some of the tried and tested PM processes beginning with Planning. If the task on hand is of an operational nature, then it is a recurring task, you might already have a planned procedure to accomplish this task, and there is little to no planning required.

For Projects, you have to ensure that you employ the most qualified and appropriate resources. A project is a new and unique endeavor that will require adequate experience in performing the task. Unlike an operational/recurring task that might have documented steps in accomplishing it, therefore, does not require a great deal of superior know-how.

All projects have specific goals and deliverables, that when completed, must provide value to an individual, a group or an organization. Therefore, once a project has been identified, it is of paramount importance to immediately discover what the deliverables are and what intrinsic value they add/provide to the organization. In the case of a recurring task, you have already done this discovery and know going in the benefit this adds.

A project has a start and end date, what happens between these two dates is a mystery until the planning cycle starts and tasks are identified and further broken down into a timeline.

As an organization that is budget conscious, you know beforehand the cost of a recurring task and have hopefully put that in your budget. In the case of unique and new projects, this budget (correct format and no brackets) is an unknown. But having your tasks defined and broken into a work breakdown structure (WBS) helps in arriving at a solid budget. I talked about the bottom-up budgeting approach in a past blog and this WBS is a great aid in budgeting your project.

Once you have identified your three main pillars of the project – budget, scope and time, you can move into implementing, controlling and finally closing your project and ensure that each is successfully met.

Therefore, knowing the difference between whether you are working on an operational task or on a project is extremely important because the methodology you implement in delivering each will be drastically different.


AMIT TRASI | Project Manager

Amit is responsible for institutionalizing project management governance at KTL to streamline ERP implementations. With over 15 years of technology experience as a software developer, project manager, and program manager, Amit has managed end-to-end ERP implementations with Dynamics NAV and GP as well as POS implementation with e-Commerce front end. He holds extensive experience deploying POS and ERP applications at non-profits, theme parks, and museums across the United States. Amit joined KTL in October of 2013 and holds an MBA in Information Systems as well as holding a Project Management Professional certificate.

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