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7 Definitions of Project

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A project is a planned initiative with defined scope, resources and objectives. Projects differ from processes, in that they are typically only performed once. Most definitions of project convey the sense that a project is formally planned such that ad hoc or emergent changes aren't viewed as a project. The following are reasonable definitions of project followed by several common definitions.
Definition (1)
A one-time initiative that is planned with defined scope, resources and objectives.
Definition (2)
A planned change.
Definition (3)
A formally planned and managed change.
Definition (4)
A planned set of related changes that are intended to achieve a set of objectives.

Common / Authoritative Definitions

The following are common or authoritative definitions that are arguably somewhat flawed.
A set of tasks that must be completed in order to arrive at a particular goal or outcome.
[often quoted definition with many minor variations and an unclear source]
Projects have objectives but not necessarily goals or outcomes. For example, a project to build a set for a film where the set itself isn't a desired goal or outcome but is rather an objective that brings you closer to goals such as film revenue.
The phrasing "must be completed" is inaccurate because there may be many ways to achieve an objective.
A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. (PMI, 2008a, p. 5)
Why does the result need to be unique?
All things are endeavors are arguably temporary but why is this a defining characteristic of a project? The intent here appears to differentiate between a project and process where a process is repeated exactly the same way many times.
Why list products and services? Projects can create infrastructure, knowledge, analysis, events and so forth.
"create" is inaccurate as most projects update existing things.
A project is any undertaking, carried out individually or collaboratively and possibly involving research or design, that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim. [Wikipedia project page 2022]
"... possibly involving research or design ..." --- and possibly involving driving to Denver or possibly involving a ham sandwich.
"... a particular aim." -- projects may have dozens of objectives.


This is the complete list of articles we have written about projects.
Project Requirements
Project Types
Work Product
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The definition of project with examples.

Project Types

A list of common project types from launching a restaurant to a space mission.

Project Management Process

An overview of the project management process.

Project Scope

An overview of project scope with examples.

Project Deliverables

A list of common project deliverables.

Project Quality Management

An overview of project quality management with examples.

Project Quality

An overview of project quality with examples.

Project Requirements

An extensive list of project requirements including functional and non-functional examples.
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