What is a Project

Many persons do not know what is a project

Invariably when I ask a new class how many persons have done projects, very few hands go up.  This is because of common misconceptions about what is a project.  We are taught that “Work “comprises operations and projects.  Operations sustain the business but projects are used to bring about change.   The Project Management Institute of the United States of America, Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge “PMBOK Guide” gives a definition of what is a project as being “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result”.

So  does the average person work on projects? The Answer is – Yes we do


So, let us exam the definition of projects:

  • Results are for projects in which documents/reports are the deliverable (a tangible or intangible object produced as a result of the project that is intended to be delivered to the client).  A project to determine why there is so much violent crime in a particularly community will not produce a product or service but a report which will be able to allow policy makers to come up with programmes aimed at reducing the level of crime in that community.
  • Temporary means it has a beginning and an end.  It can be for less than a month or two to three years.
  • Unique means that every project produces something different in terms of the end product, service or result.  You may have been asked by your church group last year to organize a Christmas party.  This is a project.  It is not part of your normal work.   This year you get the same assignment.  This year’s party will not be a carbon copy of last year’s party.   There will be differences:
    • be it location,
    • number of persons attending which will impact such things as the budget and influence location, etc.
    • menu,
    • entertainment,
    • décor,
    •  activities

something will be different.

Another example can be projects in a school building programme.  If the Ministry Of Education is building schools throughout the country using the same design, each location may require something different that cause differences in activities and end product.  A hilly location may require the building of retaining walls.  An area where water is a problem, may require additional tanks, and/or truck borne water.  The additional tanks may have to be a permanent feature of the school even when the school has started.    The Biche Secondary School in Trinidad and Tobago used the same school design as other government schools but the problems occurred because of the location and problems therein.

A bakery is an example of an Operation but to create a type of bread that has never been done before requires a team, research, product formulation, packing and marketing to name just a few activities.   When all is complete the baker can get the recipe and every day bake that bread and the rest of the workers can on a daily basis package them and take them to market.  Projects sometimes end in operations.

Now learn more about projects

Now, can you tell of the following which are projects and which are operations?

  • The construction of a kitchen
  • A political campaign
  • Preparing a pay sheet
  • Creating a new course for a school
  • Making televisions

(answers are at the end of the next post)

So, how have you been doing your projects?


One may therefore ask what are the reasons for undertaking projects.

Okay project officials; let’s go on a journey in which I will give you the tools and techniques to do projects properly. It is important to note that a project can be successfully implemented but is a failure.

Answer– preparing a pay sheet and making televisions are operations, the rest are projects.

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