In this chapter, you will learn the following:
- The fundamentals of a project
- The role of the project manager
As defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a project is a temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service, or result. It is temporary. It has a beginning and an end, so there’s a defined scope and resources. The end of a project is reached when the project delivers its expected outcomes or when it is no longer relevant. The need of the project no longer exists.
A project is unique in the sense that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of activities designed to accomplish a singular goal. Therefore, a project involves a team that often includes people who don’t usually work together—sometimes from different organizations and across multiple geographies.
A project can create the following:
- A product that can be an end item (for example, a hybrid car) or a component of another item (for example, a hybrid engine)
- A capability to perform a service (that is, a business function that supports another function)
- A result such as an outcome or a document (for example, a public policy evaluation that delivers results that can be used to readjust the policy)
Projects are also the means by which organizations introduce change. Organizations that don’t change are likely to stagnate or die.
Projects deliver products. The product might be a new computer system that the organization will use to achieve change, or it might be more efficient work practices. You can measure these outcomes in the form of benefits, as you can see in Figure 1.1. The total benefits that can be realized from a project must be more than the cost of the project and the cost of operating in the project document. Otherwise, the project does not deliver a return on investment (ROI).
Figure 1.1 A project as a way to introduce change.
PRINCE2 defines a project as “a temporary organization that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed Business Case.”1
A Business Case is one of the documents that exists in a PRINCE2 project. It includes information such as the reasons for the project, the benefits, cost and time information, and ROI calculation.
There are many examples of projects. Here are some examples:
- Changing the law by introducing the obligations of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change
- Effecting a change in the structure, staffing, or style of an organization
- Developing software for an improved business process
- Constructing a building or infrastructure
- Expanding sales into a new geographic market
- Implementing a new business process or procedure
All must be expertly managed to deliver the on-time, on-budget, and expected results, learning, and integration that organizations need.