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The Project Management Context

What is a Project?

What is Project Management?

Project Management Knowledge Areas

What is a Program?

Project Life Cycle

Project Stakeholders











What is a project?

A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or service.

Projects are different from operations which adopt a new set of objectives and continue to work.

Key components of this definition are:



Every project has a definite start and end.

Temporary does not imply:

  1. that projects are short in duration - it only means that the duration is finite

  2. that the service or product is temporary - these can last for a long time


Unique Product or Service

Projects involve doing something which has not been done before and which is, therefore, unique.

Uniqueness does not imply:

  1. the absence of repetitive elements within the project, for example, multiple prototypes.

  2. that there is a specialised category for the product or service, for example, even though there are thousands of buildings each one can be considered a specific project.

The principle of "progressive elaboration"

Because the product of each project is unique, the characteristics that distinguish the product or service must be progressively elaborated.

Progressively = proceeding in steps; steadily in increments

Elaborated = worked out with care and detail and developed thoroughly

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What is Project Management?

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities in order to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations from a project.

Meeting or exceeding stakeholder needs and expectations invariably involves balancing competing demands among:

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Project Management Knowledge Areas

Intergration Management: The processes to ensure that the various elements of the project are properly coordinated. Scope Management: The processes required to ensure that the project includes all the work required and only the work required, to complete the project successfully. Time Management: The processes required to ensure timely completion of the project.
Cost Management: The processes required to ensure that the project is completed within the approved budget. Quality Management: The processes required to ensure that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken. HR Management: The processes required to make the most effective use of people involved with the project.
Communications Management: The processes required to ensure timely and appropriate dissemination,storage and ultimate disposal of project information. Risk Management: The processes concerned with identifying, analysing and responding to project risk. Procurement Management: The processes required to acquire the goods and services from outside the performing organisation.

Note: Hover your mouse over the images to see the definitions.

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What is a Program?

A program is a group of projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.

Some programs may also involve a series of repetitive or cyclical undertakings, for example, publishing a newspaper or magazine is a program, the periodical itself is ongoing effort but each individual issue is a project.

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Project Life Cycle

Projects are usually divided into a number of phases. Collectively these phases are known as the project life cycle.

Each project phase is marked by the completion of one or more deliverables. A deliverable is a tangible, verifiable work product. At the conclusion of each phase the deliverables and project performance are reviewed:

a) To determine if the project should continue into its next phase

b) To detect and correct errors

The project life cycle will also determine which transitional actions at the end are included and which are not.

The practice of overlapping phases is called fast tracking.

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Project Stakeholders

Project stakeholders are individuals and organisations who are actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected as a result of project execution or successful project completion.

Key stakeholders on every project include:

a) the project manager

b) customer

c) performing organisation

d) sponsor

Stakeholders often have very different objectives that may come into conflict. In general, differences between stakeholders should be resolved in favour of the customer.

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