The step-by-step guide
STEP 1 Understanding the basics
Step 1.1 What is a project?
A project is really a very simple concept that many professional and
academic books spend pages and pages defining. Essentially, a project is
a task with a known end point. For example, building a new house is a
project, the end point being when the house is built. Similarly, creating
a new piece of computer software is a project, as is launching a new
product for a business. Projects can be used to complete many different
types of tasks.
Usually the term ‘project’ is applied to tasks with some degree of
complexity. So whilst you could argue that cooking yourself some toast
is a project, with the end point being buttered toast on your plate,
usually the term is not applied to such simple activities which do not
need to be managed with the rigour of a recognised project.
Projects fulfil some clear pre-defined objective, in a planned period of
time, and to a planned cost. Once the project is complete something will
have changed – for example, you have a new house, a new computer
system or a new product.
Step 1.2 What is project management?
What is your role?
Project management is a formal discipline for managing projects.
Project management has been developed over the past few decades as it
has become apparent that without a structured approach, people are not
very good at completing projects successfully. The aim of project
management is to ensure that projects are completed and that the end
point (the new house, computer system or new product) is achieved.
More than this, project management is about reaching that end point
predictably, which usually means to a given cost and within a planned
amount of time.
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