Do you really know what a project is ?We know that project comes from the Latin word projectum , which means “before an action”. Over time, the sense of “design” has been modified and expanded, and today there are several different types of projects, ranging from personal plans to architectural projects.
The truth is that making a plan before putting something into practice has become a priority in many organizations, and today there is a management discipline that takes care of that especially: project management.
If you identify with this area and want to learn a little more about projects, what are the main types and what are the phases that make them up, this post is for you!
Read the full text or browse the menu below:
- What is a project?
- What is the difference between a project and a process?
- What are the project types?
- What are the phases of a project?
What is a project?
As we commented in our full post on project management ,
A project is a unique, temporary and progressive effort undertaken to create an exclusive product, service or result.
This means that a project is a special action that has a determined beginning and end (it is, therefore, temporary), and a clear objective to be achieved within the resources that are destined to it (human, financial and material). Projects are generally divided into stages, which are carried out to generate deliveries.
Therefore, projects should not have an indefinite duration or unlimited resources – both must be planned in advance to establish a baseline to be followed.
According to the PMBOK® Guide, the success of a project is measured by the quality of the product and the project, punctuality, compliance with the budget and the degree of customer satisfaction.
Next, we will explain in detail the main characteristics of a project:
It is unique : this means that a project cannot be repeated continuously, it is a unique and planned event. For example: if an engineer receives demands from two different customers to develop projects with the same characteristics, he cannot offer the same project for both.
This is because each project will have members, technical specificities, places of application, availability of resources and probably different start and end dates.
It has a definite beginning and end : when we say that a project is temporary, it does not mean that it will have a short term, but that there is a definite beginning and end, a deadline to be respected.
It is progressive : considering the completion period that has to be reached, the project must be divided into stages, and not delivered in one go. Generally, deliveries are made up of tasks that interact and depend on each other.
For example, to build a house, you need to build the foundations before lifting the walls. These are progressive tasks or activities that shape the final delivery.
There is a delimitation of resources : the inputs to execute a project are limited according to the scope of the project. To define the baselines of the resources (whether human, financial or material), it is common to carry out a cost survey before the execution, to ensure that the lack of any resource makes the project delivery unfeasible.
It has a clear and viable objective : one more characteristic of the projects is that they are made with a clear and viable objective, that is, possible to be achieved. It is necessary to clarify, however, that a project is not a goal, a desire or even a company’s future vision: it can be a way to achieve them.
Check out some examples to better understand what a project is:
- Develop a new product, service or result;
- Make a change in the structure, involving people and / or processes;
- Acquire, modify or develop a system;
- Conduct a survey whose results will be released;
- Construct a building, industrial plant or infrastructure.
Is it easier to understand what a project is? So now we will help you to identify the differences between projects and organizational processes. Check out:
What is the difference between a project and a process?
In summary, the main difference between projects and processes is that, while a process is continuous and repeated over and over, the projects are temporary and carried out only once. Even if some procedures are repeated in the project, the repetition does not change the fact that your deliveries are unique.
For example, a construction team may repeat the same work processes to construct a building, but each building will be a different project.
In addition, the processes generate standardized results and are strongly defined, while the projects generate unique results and can be defined progressively, in planning waves. And, finally, the processes have changing objectives, which can be updated as the company wishes, but the objectives of the projects are unique and immutable .
The following table summarizes the information we have just presented:
Now, you already know what a project is and you know the difference between a project and a process. Follow the next topic and learn about the main types of projects.
What are the project types?
Research projects, common in the academic environment, are made with the aim of investigating a pre-established theme and generating knowledge . As examples, we can cite scientific research that seeks to develop medicines and treatments for diseases or to investigate current problems.
These projects are written and presented orally, and have a structure that should have a theme, justification, problem, hypothesis, objectives, methodology, schedule and references.
Bills (PL) are proposals that seek to improve some aspect of the life of the citizens of a country. They are written and presented to the Chamber and Senate, and can become law upon approval by the National Congress and the President of the Republic. The following bills may be presented:
- Federal deputies;
- Higher courts;
- House and Senate commissions;
- Federal Court of Justice;
- Attorney General of the Republic;
- Citizens (provided that the proposal collects signatures from at least 1% of Brazil’s electoral population).
A social project is an initiative carried out on a temporary and group basis with the aim of providing answers to social problems and transforming the reality of any community , social or intellectual. Social projects generally have limited resources, many risks and unstable conditions to carry out their work, often being maintained through partnerships.
The campaigns carried out by NGOs and philanthropic institutions can be considered social projects.
An architectural project (or architectural project) is the materialization of an idea for the creation of an architectural work, such as a house , an office , a store etc. To develop it, the architect takes into account the client’s needs and seeks to meet them in the best possible way, and has several steps to be taken – including in relation to legal approval.
Systems design (software)
A systems project translates to paper how the requests of customers who need a technological solution will be met . Its objective is to define and detail a software model that is viable and capable of solving the customer’s needs.
When a company grows and needs more robust software to be able to better manage the business areas, it can turn to a development company to create the system design and develop a tailored solution.
A business project has as main objective to create an opportunity for growth for the organization, improve solutions or even shape a new business . In these cases, the organization that invests in the resources is usually the same organization that executes the project.
When a company decides to start investing in digital marketing, for example, it is recommended that it does so through a project. Thus, it is possible to make an analysis of the situation, control the actions and the results.
What are the phases of a project?
Between the start and finish date of a project, there are several stages that organize its execution. According to the PMBOK Guide, there are 5 stages in the life cycle of a project : initiation , planning , execution , monitoring and control and closure . We’ll talk more about them below.
In the initiation phase, the project manager will begin to identify the needs that the project will be able to meet, the objectives of the project, the risks, the premises, restrictions and mainly the feasibility of what is planned to be carried out.
It is also at this stage that authorization from stakeholders and legislation (if applicable) is sought so that the project can move forward. If the approval is given, the next step is to build the project charter, which officially starts it.
The project planning phase involves several elements, starting with the refinement of objectives and understanding until the creation of the project schedule. The WBS (Project Analytical Structure) is created, the scope of the project, the sequencing of activities, the timing of resources and the duration, costs, risks and stakeholders involved are planned.
To organize this planning, it is interesting to use a visual tool, such as the Project Canvas by Euax Consulting. With it, you can plan the main aspects of your project in a simple and intuitive way, facilitating communication with others involved in the project
When all this is defined, it is common to have a kick-off meeting to present the project to the others involved and mark the beginning of the execution phase.
The execution of the project is when everything that has been planned comes into action . According to PMBOK, this step occurs in parallel with that of monitoring and control.
- Monitoring and control
Even if activities and resources are planned and risks are foreseen, there is still the possibility of unforeseen events that threaten the health of the project. Therefore, monitoring and controlling execution is essential.
Today, the use of project management software has become popular as support for monitoring, since they allow monitoring the fulfillment of activities and the use of resources, as well as facilitating the visualization of workflow tasks and making communication between those involved much more fluidly.
In addition, at this stage it is important to periodically bring together project teams to align the progress of activities, report possible problems, give and receive feedback. By closely monitoring the project, it is possible to identify deviations beforehand and work around them before they become major problems.
The closure stage is when the final deliverables of the project must be completed and approved by the stakeholders, and the objectives established there at the beginning must have been achieved.
The project manager must meet with the team, evaluate the lessons learned on the project and record them in a knowledge base, so that positive and negative experiences help the team in the phases of the next project.
Finally, the team can be demobilized, material resources can be returned (if applicable) and contracts must be terminated.
We hope you understand everything about a project. If you want to learn even more about the subject, take the time to download our basic project management guide and learn how to manage projects like a professional!