1-01 What are projects

Projects are seen as a way to introduce change, hence they are unique by nature, i.e., two identical projects are never done. Now, some of you may be thinking that in your company the same projects keep repeating. Well, if they are exactly the same, then these are referred to as processes; and processes that repeat are referred to as “business as usual” or operations.

Let us start with a more general definition of a project. I got this from Wikipedia.

A project is a unique series of actions designed to accomplish a unique goal within specific time and cost limitations.

I like this definition, as it is concise and easy to understand. It mentions terms like “series of actions,” “unique goal” and “within the constraints of time and money.”

Another definition of a project is as follows:

A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or service.

This might sound like something from Star Trek, but it is actually from the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK®).

Now let us hear what PRINCE2 says about what a project is. This is a quote from the manual:

“A project is a temporary organization that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed Business Case.”

You may not have understood this, as you need to know a little more about PRINCE2 first. It should start to make more sense in a few minutes after I explain what is meant by words such as temporary organization and business case, which appear in the definition. 

The word organization refers to the project team, the persons involved in the project, and how they relate to each other. Each project has a definite start and end, so it is temporary. Remember, projects that go on forever are referred to as “operations” or “business as usual” and are not projects (e.g., maintenance of a software application).

Business Case is one of the documents that exist in a PRINCE2 project. It includes information such as the reasons for the project, the benefits, costs and time information and ROI (Return On Investment) calculation