WHAT is a PROJECT ?
A project is a unique endeavour undertaken
- form a concept
- create a product
- render a service
A project could be ‘an idea or concept taking shape in mind, or being readied for an outward expression’, ‘a strategy to actualize an idea’, ‘way to recollect a happening’, ‘estimate the scale of an event’, ‘reproduce an experience’ or ‘a search for a match or fit’.
|Mid-sea platform for oil drilling|
Project management is unique in character and distinct from other more traditional, routine and bureaucratic means. ‘Projects emerge out of circumstances -aided by all kinds of debate and analysis, by managerial or political policy decisions, -as unique ways of addressing social, business and organizational issues, within increasingly complex environments’.
|Herculean task of debris clearing at WTC NY|
A project represents unique mix of various conditions so it is a first-ever effort. The effort at sub level involves some degree of repetitions or known conditions. This is very different from processes or operations, e.g. industrial, that are ongoing and do the same thing repeatedly. Even in such situations one can improvise by treating them as unique.
Projects are predominantly either Technical or Procedural, but not exclusively one or the other. Interior Design is an example of the former, whereas marketing or the training of personnel would be an example of the later. In project management what is unfamiliar and non routine, invariably necessitates all kinds of learning, adaptation as well as problem solving, and technical projects need more of it.
|Conservation of Historic buildings|
Projects have four parameters, Scope (defined space), Time, Cost and Quality (concerns). A small variation in one of these, affects all other factors. Projects are so Scope or extent dependent that an increase or decrease in size affects its time schedules, changes the cost and affects the quality concerns. A Time dependent project when delayed impacts the benefits or losses out of it. A project hastened may require greater or uneconomic inputs and may remain idle till other connected systems are complete. Though with early or accelerated execution, extensive benefits could be derived. Cost generally determines the extent of a project in the early stage, but costs are extremely variable and can change the perception of extent. Quality parameters are worst affected when conditions are abnormal and survival of an individual or the society is threatened, such as during war, natural calamities, catastrophes etc. Best and most challenging projects’ management methods have emerged in such acute conditions.
|Shifting of AbuSimbel from Nile dam site|
Critical Projects: Projects become critical when one or many of the four factors impact. So projects are hypothetically made critical by focussing or de-focussing on one or few of the aspects. A project in critical mode reveals its weak points or inferior sections. A project is considered as weak as its most inferior section, but the project achieves a strength equivalent to the average strengths of all its sections. Project management systems entail recognition of dependencies of the four aspects as risks and provide means for dealing (risk management) with them.