Defining a Project

image A project is a sequence of unique, complex, and connected activities that have one goal or purpose and that must be completed by a specific time, within budget, and according to specification.

This is the commonly accepted definition of a project and tells you quite a bit about it. This is a good place to start this discussion but I will improve upon it later with a more business-focused definition. To appreciate just what constitutes a project, take a look at each part of the definition.

Sequence of Activities

A project comprises a number of activities that must be completed in some specified order, or sequence. An activity is a defined chunk of work.

image Chapter 5 expands on this informal definition of an activity.

The sequence of the activities is based on technical requirements, not on management prerogatives. To determine the sequence, it is helpful to think in terms of the following inputs and outputs:

  • What is needed as input in order to begin working on this activity?
  • What activities produce those deliverables as output?

The output of one activity or set of activities becomes the input to another activity or set of activities.

Specifying a sequence based on resource constraints or statements such as “Pete will work on activity B as soon as he finishes ...

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