I’m very excited to begin a new series of blog posts today related to Project Management…WAIT! Keep reading! This is Project Management for regular people. Even if you’re familiar with PM jargon, I want to simplify and demystify it.
Too often PM pros like myself become enamored with the language of our profession. Honestly, most professions are like that. Doctors, lawyers, teachers…they all have their ways of communicating, often in very strange terms and acronyms. It works when they talk to each other, but frustrates everyone else.
Over the next month or so, my goal is to take what we do and boil it down to the essential truths. This will help pros communicate with their clients (and family members), and help non-pros see and improve the power of project management in their own lives (yes, you’re probably already doing it!).
So we start today with:
Project Rule #1
What is a Project?
A project is an effort undertaken for a specific purpose, with an intended outcome, and a clear beginning and ending.
Digging a bit deeper, we can identify the key components of a project:
- Specific Purpose – Why are we doing it? What is the motivation?
- Intended Outcome – What do we want to accomplish? What is the result of the project?
- Beginning – When does it start?
- Ending – When does it end?
The Specific Purpose and Intended Outcome are related, but not quite the same. If our project is to bake a wedding cake, the Specific Purpose tells us that it is part of a celebration and must look and taste beautiful. The intended outcome tells us that it needs to serve 100 guests, have buttercream icing, four tiered layers and a plastic bride and groom on top. There is overlap in the two terms, but the details vary.
The Beginning and Ending mean our project is finite. It cannot last forever. The effort must begin at a certain point and end at a certain point. A wedding is a project. It is planned, it occurs, and then it is over. The wedding does not last for years. But a marriage is not a project. While it does have an end date (till death do we part), that end is not known and not planned for.
Projects vary in size and scope (more on that later). But everything from baking a cake to building the worlds largest yacht to putting a man on the moon involves projects.
Any questions? Any new ideas come to mind concerning projects? Do you see more projects around you, or things you thought were projects but aren’t?