A Project is an activity to make something unique. Of course, many office buildings are Built-in many respects, but each individual feature is unique in its own way. The Project is explained in Features, Characteristics, and Objectives. One person or organization involved in projects need to understand how to solve the complexity of problems through project management. In this article, we will define the word “project”, describe the key features of a project, and explain the way to separate a project from an activity.

The Project has explained in some points Nature, Features, Characteristics, and Objectives.

What is a Project? Meaning, Definition, and Nature.

The project is a great opportunity for organizations and individuals to achieve their business and non-business objectives more efficiently through implementing change. Projects differ from other types of work (e.g. process, task, procedure). Meanwhile, in the broadest sense, a project is defined as a specific, finite activity that produces an observable and measurable result under certain preset requirements. Projects help us make desired changes in an organized manner and with reduced probability of failure.

It is an attempt to implement the desired change in an environment in a controlled way. “A Project is a temporary, unique and progressive attempt or endeavor made to produce some kind of a tangible or intangible result (a unique product, service, benefit, competitive advantage, etc.). It usually includes a series of interrelated tasks that are planned for execution over a fixed period of time and within certain requirements and limitations such as cost, quality, performance, others.” By using projects we can plan and do our activities, For Example: build a garage, run a marketing campaign, develop a website, organize a party, go on vacation, graduate a university with honors, or whatever else we may wish to do.

According to the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge), A project is defined as a “temporary endeavor with a beginning and an end and it must be used to create a unique product, service or result”. Further, it is progressively elaborated. What this definition of a project means is that projects are those activities that cannot go on indefinitely and must have a defined purpose. A project is an activity to meet the creation of a unique product or service and thus activities that are undertaken to accomplish routine activities cannot be considered projects.

A project is defined as “A non-routine, non-repetitive one-off undertaking normally with—discrete time, financial and technical performance goals.” The definition is descriptive and, because of the endless variety of projects, most of the definitions are of this nature.

A project can consider being any series of activities and tasks that:

  • Have a specific objective to be completed within certain specifications.
  • Have defined start and end dates.
  • Have funding limits (if applicable), and.
  • Consume resources (i.e. money, time, equipment).

The Project is explained, Definition of a Project:

The project starts from scratch with a definite mission, generates activities involving a variety of human and non-human resources, all directed towards the fulfillment of the mission and stops once the mission is fulfilled.

According to the Project Management Institute, USA, “a project is a one-set, time-limited, goal-directed, major undertaking requiring the commitment of varied skills and resources”.

It also describes a project as “a combination of human and non-human resources pooled together in a temporary organization to achieve a specific purpose”. The purpose and the set of activities which can achieve that purpose distinguish one project from another.

“A project consists of a combination of organizational resources pulled together to create something that did not previously exist and that will provide a performance capability in the design and execution of organizational strategies.”
“A project is a temporary process undertaken to create one or a few units of a unique output or product or service whose attributes are progressively delineated in the course of the project’s execution.”

The Project is explained – Second point, Characteristics or Features of a Project:

The characteristics or features of a project are as follows:

  • Objectives: A project has a fixed set of objectives. Once the objectives have been achieved, the project ceases to exist.
  • Life-cycle: A project has a life cycle reflected by growth, maturity, and decay. It has naturally a learning component.
  • Uniqueness: No two projects are exactly similar even if Die plants are exactly identical or are merely duplicated. The location, the infrastructure, the agencies, and the people make each project unique.
  • Change: A project sees many changes throughout its life while some of these changes may not have any major impact; they can be some changes which will change the entire character of course of the project.
  • Life Span: A project cannot continue endlessly. It has to come to an end. What represents the end would normally be spelled out in the set of objectives.
  • Single entity: A project is one entity and is normally entrusted to one responsibility center while the participants in the project are many.
  • Team-work: A project calls for team-work. The team again is constituted of members belonging to different disciplines, organizations, and even countries.
  • Made to order: A project is always made to the order of its customer. The customer stipulates various requirements and puts constraints within which the project must execute.
  • Unity in diversity: A project is a complex set of thousands of varieties. The varieties are in terms of technology, equipment, and materials, machinery and people, work culture and ethics. But they remain inter-related and unless this is so, they either do not belong to the project. Or will never allow the project to be completed.
  • Successive principle: What is going to happen during the life cycle of a project is not fully known at any stage. The details get finalized successively with the passage of time. More is known about a project when it enters the construction phase than what was known to say, during the detailed engineering phase.
  • Risk and uncertainty: Every project has risk and uncertainty associated with it. The degree of risk and uncertainty will depend on how a project has passed through its various life-cycle phases. An ill-defined project will have the extremely high degree of risk and uncertainly Risk and uncertainty are not part and parcel of only R and H projects there simply cannot be a project without any risk and uncertainty.
  • High level of sub-contracting: A high percentage of the work in a project is done through contractors. The more the complexity of the project, the more will be the extent of contracting. Normally around 80% of the work in a project is done through sub-contractors.

Key of Characteristics:

As follows from the given definition, any project can be characterized by these characteristics:


This key characteristic means that every project has a finite start and a finite end. The start is the time when the project is initiated and its concept is developed. The temporary nature of a project indicates that a project has a definite beginning and a definite end.

The beginning is marked by the start of the project and the end is reached when the project’s objectives have been achieved or when the project is terminated for some other reason. ‘Temporary’ is also one of the characteristics distinguishing a project from normal operations. The end is reached when all objectives of the project have been met (or unmet if it’s obvious that the project cannot be completed – then it’s terminated).

Unique Deliverable’s:

Any project aims to produce some deliverable(s) which can be a product, service, or some another result. Every project is unique and different. This is another aspect that differentiates a project from normal operations. Deliverables should address a problem or need analyzing before project start. Repetitive elements may be present in project deliverables and activities, but there is always something different about those elements or the way in which they are combined.

Once again, a building construction project can serve as a conceptual example. A specific structure may be designed by people who have designed other buildings, constructed by people who have built other buildings, and made from the same materials as other buildings. Yet, an individual building project brings those elements together in a unique way; A particular building of a specific design for an exact purpose using selected materials all combine to create a unique construction project.

Progressive Elaboration:

With the progress of a project, continuous investigation and improvement become available, and all this allows producing more accurate and comprehensive plans. This key characteristic means that the successive iterations of planning processes result in developing more effective solutions to progress and develop projects.

Creating Output:

Every project creates some type of product, service, or end result. These outputs are called deliverables and they are the reason projects exist and take place. Project output can be both tangible and intangible. An example of tangible project output is the building resulting from a construction project. Examples of intangible projects include new services or events.

The Project is explained – and the Last Point, Objectives of a Project:

The “Project” is a means to achieve a “goal”. By the completion of projects, the creative part (of the projected asset) comes to an end and, thereupon, the project-created tangible thing is used to achieve the goal. So, primarily, there is a goal aimed at by the project owner and, in order to achieve that goal, he initiates the “project”. Accordingly, before we deal with the project objectives, we would like to go through the possible objectives of the project owner.

First Objectives, A popular expression runs:

“Project grows out of needs or opportunities.” The project, in general, is undertaken when the need or opportunity is identified, a proposal is crystallized in form of a project, the proposal is then transformed into necessary activities to build-up the project, e.g. setting up a plant. Along with further analyses and appraisal of the project technical, financial etc. a firm decision is made about launching a project.

At this point, the project objectives are set which becomes the ultimate philosophy for the project team. Any project decision is based upon the full evaluation of its impact upon the project objectives.

The project, when finalized, has the following objectives:

  • It has a time-bound programme to start, execute, commission and delivery of the project;
  • It has cost-bound activities in terms of money spent or resources consumed so that total cost is within the total estimated project cost as agreed and authorized by the project owner and
  • It shall conform to the technical specifications set at the point of deciding upon the project. In others words, the delivery (of the project) shall have to be of the agreed quality.

Second Objectives, Without Money-Making Mission:

  • There are situations where projects need to be implemented with social objectives. Primarily, these are undertaken by the government—non-industrial projects aimed towards the social benefits as, public health, irrigation, education etc. The government, being the owner of these projects, provides funds for such projects.
  • Projects are also undertaken on account of emergency and/or need of national importance e.g. defense and security. Even though such projects can be highly complex and costly phenomena as constructing an aircraft landing facility at high altitude—such projects are non-industrial and funded by the government.
  • There are projects within an industrial organization with the social objective, being necessary as per local legal regulations, e.g. Instituting facilities for health-care, education, sports etc. within a township built-up by a very large industrial organization. Influence of ‘politics’ also plays an important role in location, timing, and size of such projects.
  • There are instances where industrial organizations are aspiring to achieve and/or maintain a leading position in the trade/industry. In such a situation, the organization decides to spend some of its resources on Research and Development activities including research in finding out new products, new processes, development of existing products etc. to avail the cost benefit.

The management of such an organization decides to go ahead for the Research and Development projects with a plan to install facilities to search for the probable product and/or process. Installation of such project includes the establishment of a laboratory with sophisticated equipment, the appointment of professionals and the supply of necessary consumables.

In all such cases mentioned in (a) to (d) above the project is confined to budgeted costs and, obviously, no revenue/income is involved. There is a scope of deliberation on expenses involved, considering the resources available in the organization. There may be the limitation and/or deferment of the expenses under this type of project as per the decision of the management.

The Project is explained in Features Characteristics and Objectives
Image credit from #Pixabay.

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