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Project and its Characteristics

  • Definition of Project
    A project involves single purpose, end items or results usually specified in terms of costs, time and performance requirements. It is a process of working together to achieve a goal, during the process, projects pass through several distinct phases called project life cycle.
    Some definitions of project by some institutions and personalities are:
    “A project is defined as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service.”- Project management Body of knowledge
    “A project can be defined as a unique task (however large or small) with defined goal, limited in cost and time and giving some benefits to the users when the task is completed.”- S.K. Bhattacharjee
    “Project is a combination of human and non-human resources pulled together into a temporary organization to achieve a specific purpose.”- Clealand and King
    “A one-shot, time limited, goal oriented, major undertaking, requiring the commitment of varied skills and resources. It is the combination of human and non-human resources pulled together into a temporary organization to achieve a specific purpose.”-The project management institute in USA
    All these definitions emphasize that a project is a time bound activity designed to achieve a specific goal through planning, control and temporary organization to create a product, service or achieve specific objective by overcoming time and resource constraints.
  • Resources of project
    It is generally denoted by 5M. Money, Material, Manpower, Machine, Minute (time).

  • Characteristics of Project
    Characteristics of the project are discussed below
    • Specific Goal or Objectives
      A project has specific goal or objectives. It is focused on the achievement of an end result. It ceases to exist when the objectives have been fulfilled. For e.g. the goal of writing project is to write a new book or something.
    • Temporary
      Project doesn’t continue endlessly, project ceases to exist when declared objectives are attained. Thus project has a definite beginning and ending but temporarily doesn’t mean short in duration.
    • Constraints
      A project operates within the constraints of time, cost and quality performance. It has the time schedule for various activities, own budget to control costs and clearly laid down quality specifications.
    • Unique
      No two projects are absolutely similar to each other i.e. project involves doing something which has not been done before. For eg, thousands of book have been written but each is unique- different writer, different language, different subject etc.
    • Specific Task not Routinely Performed
      The project doesn’t involve doing same work repeatedly i.e. in different phases of project life cycle separate task is performed.
    • Rapid Expenditure
      The project involves the rapid expenditure of resources within a short duration of project life cycle in comparison to a permanent programme.
    • Resource Consumption
      Project consumes tremendous quantities of resources. 5M- Money, Material, Manpower, Machine, Minute are examples of project resources all of which are paid by owner.
    • Risk and Uncertainties
      Risk and uncertainties go hand in hand with the project. A risk-free project cannot be thought of. Proper risk management is necessary to ensure achievement of the goal.
    • Team Work
      Projects work through team work. A project consists of a multi-functional team. Different team and workers are assigned for the different task.
    • Planning and Control
      A project requires effective planning and control to ascertain achievement of specified goal and objectives. Standards set are compared with actual performance to measure deviation and corrective actions are taken.
    • Contracting and Subcontracting
      The project work is characterized by high level of contracting and subcontracting. Complexity increases the need for subcontracting. Proper contract planning is required for effective project management.
    • Progressive Elaboration
      Progressive means proceeding in step and elaboration means worked out with care and detail thoroughly developed.
  • Examples of Project

    • Construction project (building, road, hydro power)
    • Introduction of new products.
    • Producing movie, television series
    • Writing a book, thesis.
    • Publishing newspaper, magazine
    • Running a campaign for political parties.
    • Awareness campaign.
    • Developing new information system.
    • Conducting training and capacity development packages.

IshwarAdhikari and Santosh Kr. Shrestha, “A text book of Project Engineering” 2011, Chandeshwori Publication, First Edition.
K. Nagarajan, “Project Management”, ISBN: 81-224-1340-4, New Age International (P) Limited, New Delhi, India, 2001.
E.R. Yescombe, “Principles of Project Finance” 2002, Yescombe-Consulting Limited.


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