Project: Meaning, Characteristics, Types, Objectives, Importance


Meaning of Project

Project refers to the series of tasks that need to carried out in order to reach specific goal. It is an activity that leads in creation of a unique good, service or a result. Project is a temporary endeavor with a starting and ending deadline that is made for creating some kind of tangible or intangible results. Many interrelated tasks are included in project that are pre planned and performed periodically under certain conditions related to cost, quality and performance level. These are the activities which are performed for some specific purpose and cannot be performed for an indefinite time period. It is distinct from normal course of activities performed within the business organization. Project progresses in phases and its definition get refined at each of its phase. 

Characteristics of Project

  1. Timeline: Every project is carried out for a definite period of time but not for indefinite time period. It has a starting date which tells when a project is initiated and a closing date that shows when it will be completed fulfilling desired outcomes. 
  2. Resources: Project is provided with a limited amount of resources in terms of capital and manpower. It is the duty of project manager to ensure that all resources are efficiently utilized so that they can easily fulfill the requirements of project.
  3. Unique Deliverable: Every projects finally results in a unique deliverable that may be either a product, service or other form of result. Proper analysis of problem is must before commencing a project so that its deliverables efficiently address the problem.
  4. Tools: There are various tool which are employed by manager while performing tasks related to a project. Network planning techniques such as Critical Path Method (CPM) and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT), Gantt Charts are some of the tools used.
  5. Progressive Elaboration: As the project work progresses, investigation and improvement is available on a continuous basis that leads to more comprehensive plans. This repetitive planning process on the basis of investigations performed from time to time leads to better control of project activities and ensure timely result.

Types of Project

  1. Manufacturing Projects: Manufacturing projects are the one that are carried on with the motive of manufacturing products such as car, train, airplane, machinery and many more.
  2. Construction Projects: Construction projects are related to erection of buildings, tunnels, roads, bridges etc. and also comprise of petro-chemical and mining projects.
  3. Research Projects: Research projects are carried on by scientists and researcher for developing a new concept or an idea. Objectives of such projects are difficult to establish and also results are unpredictable.
  4. Management Projects: These projects involve management and monitoring of activities. It may be organization or re-origination of activities that do not necessarily yield a tangible result. 

Project Life Cycle

Every project proceeds phase by phase and each phase have an efficient role in completion of project. These phases are collectively termed as project life cycle. These phases are explained below: –

  1. Project Initiation: It is the initial phase of project life cycle which is concerned with measurement of value and feasibility of project. In this phase, a business case is developed and project is defined at broad level. Project is given due diligence by important stakeholders for giving it final approval. Once, it is approved then a project charter is created defining the objective and requirements of project. Needs of business, stakeholders and a business case should be included in this charter.
  2. Project Planning: After receiving the green light for carrying out a plan, a solid plan is formulated for guiding team in performing activities. It is concerned with developing a clear roadmap to be followed for achieving the desired outcomes. A proper plan instructs how to acquire required resources, raise funds and obtain needed materials. It provides direction to team regarding quality production, risk handling, managing suppliers and sharing benefits with stakeholders. It also guides team members on how to face or handle any obstacles that may come in way of project. Project plan clearly defines the expense, timeframe and scope of project.
  3. Project Execution: Project execution is related with actual implementation of project well-framed plans. It is a phase where team start performing their work. All resources are efficiently allocated and managers ensures that all team members remained focused on their roles. Execution phase is dependent on planning phase as all works and efforts are derived from plan of project.
  4. Project Monitoring and Control: After successfully executing all plans, continuous monitoring and controlling of project related activities become essential to derive expected outcomes. Managers monitor the progress of project and ensure that all activities are going on track or not. They try to detect any variations in terms of allotted cost and time, quality of deliverables and various other aspects. All necessary corrective measures are taken to overcome these variations for guarantee delivery of results as per the promise.
  5. Project Closure: It is the last phase where project gets completed and is handed over to customers. Stakeholders are informed about its completion and all resources are released for other projects. Here, team members evaluate the project and learn about the mistakes or hardships they came across while performing their task. It will enhance their understanding that will lead to building up of strong team for carrying out more projects. 

Objectives of Project

  1. Function or performance: Primary objective of every project is to fulfill the needs for which it was carried out. Project should perform as per the expectation satisfying the wants of end user. It should function properly without any errors and defects. For example, a project taken by company to develop a racing bike, then the bike must deliver better performance while driving, should have safety features, standard quality and reliability.
  1. Expenditure should remain within budget: Another main objective is that project expenses should remain within the pre-allotted budget. All activities should be performed efficiently and time-to-time monitoring should be done. For example, if expenses of racing bike developed by company exceeds the budget allotted by it, then company will raise its selling price to recover cost that would increase its price in relation to rival products.
  1. Time Scale: Projects must be completed within right period of time decided at the time of developing its plan. All phases of project should complete periodically that will ensure its timely delivery to customer thereby providing better satisfaction.

Scope of Project

Project scope defines the activities that needs to be performed for achieving the expected objectives. It is a broad term that comprises of detecting and documenting specific goals and objectives of project, tasks, expenses and timeline. The scope sets project boundaries, divides responsibilities of every member in team and defines how work will be completed, verified and approved.

  1. Identify project needs: Clear identification of needs and requirements of a specific project is must for its successful completion. It should be properly known that what resources and tasks need to be performed for accomplishing the desired purpose. 
  2. Confirm project goals and objectives: Project scope confirms that what all goals and objectives are to be achieved by carrying out a project. These goals should be specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and should have a time frame.
  3. Describes project scope: It tells what are the features and functions of a product or service that will be developed through a project completion. Expectations and accepted level of key stakeholders should also be considered by team leader.
  4. Identify constraints: Proper detection of all constraints that may come in way of project completion should be considered. All possible limitations should be recognized and attempts should be made to reduce them. These constraints are caused by dynamic environment, lack of resources and technological glitches. 
  5. Identify necessary changes: It identify the required changes to be brought for keeping the project on track. Perspectives of stakeholders, employees and customers is taken into consideration for adjusting the needed changes as per the situations. 

Importance of Project

  1. Clearly define plan before initiating: Planning has an efficient role in success of an overall project. Project management focuses on creating a well-defined plan from starting to end for avoiding any chaos. Planning provides a path for carrying out a project for attaining desired goals.
  2. Establishes a schedule and process: Project schedule ensure that all activities are performed timely and final delivery is made to user on right time. In absence of schedule, project may get delayed which may even overrun the expenses.
  3. Encourages teamwork: Various people come together to work as a team for completion of a project. They share their ideas, knowledge and skills with each other that lead to successful collaboration of team members leading to success of project. 
  4. Maximizes resources: Every resource be it a financial or a human resource, all are quite expensive and need to be used efficiently. By employing techniques of risk management and project tracking, project management ensures all resources are economically used.
  5. Control cost and quality: Project management keep an eye on all expenses of project and quality of deliverables. It prepares a right budget for all performing all task and ensures that all expenses remain within the budget limit. Quality of deliverables is also checked whether it meet the established standards or not. 
  6. Provide opportunity for learning: Project management gives an opportunity to learn out of failures which come in way of carrying out a project. Every past experience and mistakes in past enhance the overall knowledge of members which assists them in avoiding such mistakes in future.