Is the Task at Hand Considered a Project?

Much of a professional’s day-to-day work involves delivering projects. When you think of project management, many people tend to picture teams in large organisations working on large-scale projects. Many of your smaller tasks are actually projects as well. It can be disastrous to mistake a project for regular work.

According to the Project Management Institute there is a high failure rate with projects:

  • 61% of projects don’t get done on time
  • 56% are not on budget
  • 47% don’t meet the original purpose.

Project management is a well-established and practiced methodology for medium and large projects. These projects can range in scale from organising an event, developing and implementing a new policy, to planning, designing and building massive infrastructure.

First, let’s define exactly what a project is, since the term is so wide-ranging. A project is something that:

  • is temporary – in other words, it has a definite beginning and end.
  • is unique – it has a specific set of operations designed to achieve a particular goal.
  • has a defined scope – in terms of cost, time, performance, resources and scope.
  • delivers outcomes and satisfies customer objectives, whether directly or indirectly.

See: Defining your Project – 6 Important Considerations

Projects are temporary

Once a project has been identified and established there are five key phases in its life cycle:

  • Context: establish the context to plan and guide the delivery of a project
  • Planning: sanctioning, scope, estimating and scheduling a project
  • Delivery: create a plan to ensure delivery of the project to milestones, within budget and deliver the required outcomes
  • Monitor: regularly review and report project performance
  • Closure & Review: sign-off of delivery, review and identify lessons learned.

A project has defined start and end dates, it is not an ongoing activity.

Projects create something unique

A project must have well-defined, specific goals, otherwise it lacks focus and makes it difficult to know when you have achieved the desired result. It is necessary to create milestones within a project as interim deliverables.

Deliverables set the stage for the project, allowing a Project Manager to plan and map on how and what is needed to get the project completed.

As a professional you may not feel the need to understand how project management works, since you assume that as a professional you can handle everything just fine.

Planning upfront makes a project much easier to deliver and more effective in the outcomes that result.

There are many benefits for you in learning the basics of project management and the stages that a project goes through.

Following standard project management principles helps you to efficiently manage costs and resources and more effectively deliver results.

Read: What Makes a Successful Project? Department of Information Technology Maryland.

Correctly identifying work as a project can mean the difference between successful completion or failure.

Try out our free course on preparing Project Foundations

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