In today’s world, project management is being used to achieve the goals of the organization as well as for the overall macroeconomic development of the country. Project management is a powerful tool of the organization which ensures effective control of planning, implementation, and various functions related to the project. Moreover, it accelerates the pace of economic development by ensuring efficient use of human and other resources of the organization.

In the current era of globalization, it is important to have the right project and its proper implementation in order to stay competitive and reach the top of development. Therefore, the concept of project management is gradually increasing as a prerequisite for development in all developed, underdeveloped, and developing countries. But What is a Project? What are the features/characteristics of a Project?

In this tutorial, you will learn:

What is a Project?

The project comes from the word “Projectum” derived from the Latin verb “Proicere” which means “before an action”. In other words, a project is an organized unit that completes interconnected and interdependent tasks to achieve goals and objectives within a specific budget and at the right time, in line with a pre-determined program. Different expert individuals and organizations have defined the project in different ways. The following are some notable definitions:

According to Business Dictionary, “ Project is a planned set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations”.

According to Project Management Institute (PMI), “ Project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service”.

According to The British Standard, “ Project is a unique set of coordinated activities, with definite starting and finishing points, undertaken by an individual or organization to meet specific objectives within defined schedule cost and performance parameters”.

According to Adam and Ebert, “ A project is a one-shot set of activities with a definite beginning and ending point”.

According to the Association of Project Management, “ A project is a unique, transient endeavor, undertaken to achieve planned objectives, which could be defined in terms of output, outcomes or benefits”.

According to The Project Management Hut, “ A project is made up of a set of tasks that need to be completed by a variety of people within your organization”.

Thus, in the light of the above definitions, a project is a set of individual, interrelated and interdependent tasks that are planned and implemented in a specific order so that the organization’s goals can be achieved by creating a single product or service in a specific time and budget.

Features/Characteristics of Project

Analyzing the project definitions reveals some of the basic features or elements of the project which are present in all the projects. And for all these existing components, the project has unique features and project-based work can be easily distinguished from other work of the organization. In order to get a clear idea about the project, it is necessary to know its features. The main features of the project are discussed below:

  1. Ad Hoc Endeavors: The project is not conventional; Its actions are taken as required, the tasks are carried out through a development cycle for a certain period of time, and then it is declared to be completed. All work under the project is done on a temporary basis.
  2. Projects are building blocks: The project is a tool to implement the company’s strategy. The project is adopted and implemented as the main way to achieve organizational goals. For example, INTEL’s research and development project is constantly inventing new information technology devices and the company is achieving its core goals through this project by expanding its sales in the market. Therefore, the project provides a strong foundation for the formulation and implementation of organizational strategies.
  3. Specific Objectives: The project is aimed at achieving specific goals and objectives. With the achievement of the objective, the activities of the project come to an end. The project is not undertaken for any repetitive or regular performance.
  4. Definite Life Cycle: The project has a specific life cycle. The project has a definite start and end time limit and is managed in phases. The project’s life cycle begins with the concept of the project and ends with the completion of the project.
  5. Specific Cost and Benefits: The project will have specific costs and benefits. How much money will be spent from the beginning to the end of a project will be clear and determined. Again, except for a few individual projects (such as service projects). However, even if no income is earned from the service project, social benefits can be gained. Since the project work has to be completed within the stipulated expenditure limit, many companies estimate revenue and expenditure within the specified time, which is called the budget, and the materials are distributed in the light of the budget.
  6. Set of Interrelated Tasks: A project is a set of interdependent and integrated work planned. In order to achieve the goals of the organization, all these activities are done according to the plan.
  7. Unique Product or Service: Every product or service produced through the project is absolute and unique. The product or service of one project is not the same as the product or service of another project. In this case, each product or service has its unique characteristics due to differences in size, volume, quality characteristics.
  8. Tools for Innovation: The project is a tool to create something new. Many companies produce new and improved products and services using new methods, techniques, and technologies, avoiding conventional work through projects. The project is the first step forward.
  9. Management of Change: Through the project, it is possible to master the management philosophy and strategy of change. The project is the cornerstone of organizational design and transformation. The project paves the way for discoveries. For example, Ford Motor Company undertook a project to manufacture car models according to the buyers’ tastes. The project surveys car buyers to identify their likes and dislikes and builds new car models accordingly. As a result, Ford Motor Company became a famous creative and top car dealer. So the project is the most incredible tool to create something new through change.
  10. Crossing Functional and Organizational Boundaries: The project creates an internal collaborative environment by bringing together the human resources involved in various activities within the organization. For example, the development of a new product requires the combined efforts of engineering, finance, marketing, design, etc. The project is one of the strategies to increase cooperation between different works and different organizations.
  11. The Traditional Management Functions: In the case of projects, routine management functions such as planning, organization, coordination, motivation, direction control, etc., are carried out smoothly. However, the project manager has to have technical skills, administrative skills, leadership, and goal-oriented skills.
  12. Customer States Faction: The project may have various limitations such as technical limitations, cost and time constraints, etc. However, despite all the limitations, the main goal of the project is to provide customer satisfaction.
  13. Termination of Project: The project rotates through a specific life cycle. Therefore, if a project is started and completed, it is declared extinct. Since the project has a definite beginning and end, it is termed as a short-term organization.

Due to the above features, the project can be easily distinguished from other conventional activities.