The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines a project as, “A temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service or result.” Let’s take a minute to dissect this definition.
- Temporary is a key word here: a project has a beginning and an end. Valid projects examples are (1) launching a new product, (2) re-organizing a business, (3) acquiring a new company, (4) buying a car, (5) expanding a customer service team. Things that are not projects would include (1) continuous improvement efforts, (2) recurring meetings, (3) ongoing operations.
- Group activity is the next term in PMI’s definition. Group implies more than one person (aka the Project Team). If a desired outcome can be achieved by a single person, then it is really a task or a goal, not a group activity.
- All projects have deliverables, and these deliverables can fall into one of three categories: a unique product, service, or result. The term unique applies to all three categories. A project produces a one-of-a kind outcome. Common or recurring outcomes (such as manufacturing a product) are the result of continuing operations, not projects.