A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. It is usually progressively elaborated.

Now, what does it mean for a project to be temporary?

What it means is that a project would have a beginning and an end date.

Projects are not like operations. They’re not intended to keep running and usually, the sponsor or whoever is asking for the project to be done, needs it to be completed at a specific date or time.

The next term that we need to discuss is: it is undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.

Many people confuse the term unique–the product service or result itself is not necessarily unique. We’re not going to be making a new product every single time that we run a project and it’s not going to be unique at all times. But, what’s going to be unique is going to be the environment in which the project is going to be running.

This means that if you run a project, and let’s say if you ran a project back in 2017 and let’s say you built a home a house and that same client that you built a house for asked you to build another one in 2019, what you’ll notice between 2017 and 2019 is that some aspects of your project would have changed.

For example, the cost of some of the material would have changed or the resources’ availability of some of the contractors or subcontractors may be different. You, yourself, might feel different. You may be more energetic, less energetic, you may have problems that will drag you down making you less able to focus, or maybe more efficient. Also, what would have changed would be regulations pertaining to building homes. Other matters that will change is the value of the currency, the value of money, cost of products, and also the location of the house.

So, there are many aspects about the project that will change and that makes the project unique so it is unique in its circumstances.

The last term that we need to discuss is the progressively elaborated part, so we say that projects are usually progressively elaborated. What that means is that we elaborate as we progress. Projects don’t have to be defined in full or planned in full for every single tiny detail right from the start.

Let’s go back to the example of the house.

If I was building a house, maybe initially I can just determine the size, location, dimensions, height, number of rooms, basically the architectural structure of the house, and also I can figure out that the permits that will be required, and so on and so forth. But minor details like the color of the walls that need to be painted later or any attachments to the wall, let’s say cabinets vanities mirrors, you know smaller details like that? Those can be left until later. So basically I can plan high-level and as I progress, I move from phase to phase in the construction of the house. I can go ahead and plan the rest of the details so we say that we are elaborating as we progress.

In summary, a project is a temporary endeavor. It has a beginning and an end, it is undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result and as discussed, that it’s the circumstance of the project that is going to be unique, and it is usually progressively elaborated meaning we elaborate as we progress on the project.