What is a Project… a simple explanation

So what is a Project anyway?

In its simplest form,  “A project is a specific task or series of tasks to produce a unique product or service with a desired result”. A project happens when you have a goal and a plan to achieve this goal.

A project is then made up of the following 5 processes or phases:

  1. initiation
  2. planning or design
  3. execution or production
  4. monitoring and controlling
  5. closing

Each phase will have their own tasks and objectives.

The Initiation phase should determine the nature and scope of the project, and will include

  • analyzing the business needs or requirements in measurable goals
  • review of the current operations
  • financial analysis of the costs and benefits including a budget to acheive this goal
  • stakeholder analysis, including Management, users, and support personnel for the project
  • project charter including costs, tasks, deliverables, and schedule

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The main purpose of the planning phase is to plan time, cost and resources adequately to estimate the work needed and to effectively manage risk during project execution.

  • determining how to plan (e.g. by level of detail required to acheive the goal)
  • developing the statement of scope ;
  • selecting a planning team;
  • creating the work breakdown structure (WBS) by identifying the deliverables or Milestones
  • identifying the tasks required to complete these milestones and ordering the activities in their logical sequence and dependencies;
  • estimating the resource requirements for each task;
  • estimating time and cost for the tasks;
  • developing the schedule;
  • developing the budget;
  • assessing and planning to mitigate any risks;
  • gaining formal approval from the project sponsor to begin work.

Execution process involves directing people and resources to performing the activities in accordance with the project plan. The deliverables are a product of the processes performed as defined in this plan and any other frameworks that might be applicable to the type of project that is being completed.

Monitoring and controlling is the processes performed to observe project execution so that potential problems can be identified in a timely manner and corrective action can be taken, to control the execution of the project.

  • Monitoring the active tasks;
  • Monitoring the cost, effort, scope;
  • Identify issues and risks;
  • Implement change control so that only approved changes are implemented
  • User acceptance testing

Closing includes the formal acceptance  and handing over of the project. Administrative activities include the archiving of the files and documenting lessons learned.

This phase consists of:

  • Project close: Finalize all activities across all of the process groups to formally close the project or a project phase
  • Contract closure: Complete and settle each contract and close each contract applicable to the project.