A project is a planned set of interrelated and sometimes dependent tasks that must be executed over a certain period of time taking into consideration certain costs, resources and other limitations. The task must be completed in order to reach a specific goal.
If there is one single quality which sets a project apart from routine commercial or industrial operations, it is its novelty. No two projects are ever exactly alike. A project is always a journey into the unknown, fraught with risk. Projects typically demand the use of resources that are scarce or expensive, but which have to be deployed over a most complex frame work of tasks.
The purpose of project management is to minimize, contain or counter the risks, and organize and direct the resources so that the project is finished in time, within budgeted costs and with the functional or other design objectives fulfilled.
If the purpose of project management is to meet the functional, cost and timescale objectives, then clearly these objectives must be properly defined from the outset. The technical or performance specification usually originates from a customer’s stated requirements. There must be in clear text the scope and technical performance of the project, supported by whatever drawings are necessary.
Since any eventual contract between the customer and the contractor will be based on this specification, it’ is important that no significant element of the project is omitted. After contract award, the sales specification becomes the definitive project specification. Project definition is a process which continues after contract award, right up to the final stages of commissioning.
Types of Projects
(1) Manufacturing Projects
Where the final result is a vehicle, ship, aircraft, a piece of machinery etc.
(2) Construction Projects
Resulting in the erection of buildings, bridges, roads, tunnels etc. Mining and petro-chemical projects can be included in this group.
(3) Management Projects
Which include the organization or reorganization of work without necessarily producing a tangible result. Examples would be the design and testing of a new computer software package, relocation of a company’s headquarters or the production of a stage show.
(4) Research Projects
In which the objectives may be difficult to establish, and where the results are unpredictable.
Objectives of Project
A project usually has three objectives:
(1) Function or Performance
The final result must satisfy the requirements of the end user. Considering a project to develop a racing car, the objectives must be to produce a vehicle that satisfies specified standards for performance, Reliability and safety.
(2) Containment of Expenditure within Budget
This is another criterion for project success. Continuing with the racing car development example, if the development costs were to exceed those planned, then their recovery from car sales could result in the selling price having to be increased too far above prices charged by competitors for their rival products. Projects must, therefore, be completed within their budgeted costs.
(3) Time Scale is the Third Factor
In the motor car example, the car should be fully developed and proven in time for launch at the motor show.