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Definition of a Project

Tanya works for a manufacturing company and knows well about production management and controls. They need to keep the production rolling all the time and the assembly line busy and balanced. During her five years in the company, Tanya got culturally affected by that process. She started to think assembly line, vendors, just-in-time, and so on. After those five years, she will be married soon and needs to plan for her wedding celebration. There is no assembly line here. Moreover, there are no multiple units of the product. It is one event within a specific time. She thinks that she is an expert in planning but the situation is different. She searched for the appropriate methods for planning this event and she found that the project planning is the best way to plan the wedding celebration since it is a project.

It is important to differentiate between project and continuous process because each category requires whole different methods for management, planning and controls.

A project is a temporary one operation to create a unique product or service. Two terms are very important in this definition, temporary and unique. If the operation is not temporary then it is continuous and we call it a process. If the product or service is not unique in nature and it is exactly a repeatable product, then we call this operation a process as well.

Examples of projects:

  • Changing a flat tire
  • Wedding Ceremony
  • Development of a new car model
  • Development of a new drug
  • Building a house
  • Organizing a party
  • Moving from house to another house
  • Designing a sewer line
  • Maintenance (Shutdown) of a facility
  • Overhaul of equipment

Examples of non-projects:

  • Rotating the tires
  • Building an automobile
  • Bottling a drink
  • Transferring fuel
  • Preventive maintenance

We need to differentiate between project and non-project operations to better choose the best way of management appropriate for our environment. Are we hundred percent projects oriented or totally process oriented or a mix of the two? Each operation has its unique quantitative and qualitative methods of management. Not only that but also the organization structure of the company is affected by the majority of its products either projects or mass production. That is the reason of writing this article early in the series for emphasizing the importance of knowing the nature of operations; is it project or process.

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