Chapter 1

Getting to Know Projects

If your boss walks into your cubicle one day and says “I've got a little project for you to do,” you probably don't even think twice. You've tackled your share of projects at home and at the office so you already know that quite often they're simple, short-term assignments. When you're finished, you wipe your hands and go back to what you normally do.

At some point, you probably think about taking a more structured approach to handling them. Perhaps you want to try your hand at bigger projects, increase your success rate on the projects you perform, or simply get them done with less drama and fewer surprises. The first thing you want to know is what makes a project a project. They come in all shapes and sizes, but projects share a few characteristics that differentiate them from day-to-day work. This chapter provides a definition of a project and describes each characteristic. It also discusses how projects differ from other types of work.

What Is a Project?

It's tough to get through a week without working on some kind of project, at work, at home, or both. Projects span a broad range of endeavors and so you'll meet them regardless of what line of work you're in. If you've built a deck in your backyard, thrown a party, bought a house, or remodeled your kitchen, you've worked on projects. In the work world, producing a new marketing brochure or website, developing new products, building a new corporate campus, and landing on the moon all represent ...

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