Thursday 17 February 2022

What can be key features and factors of the project?

Project management means planning and implementing a set of activities called a project. The concepts and systems used in project management, as well as the problems associated with them, stem from the nature of the projects themselves. Therefore, managers and specialists involved in the implementation of programs and projects should have a good understanding of their specifics.

There can be some confusion in the use of the terms "program", "project" and "task" – sometimes they are used to refer to different concepts, or, conversely, they can be used interchangeably. In common practice, in many sectors of the economy, the following general meanings are established for these terms.

A programme is a long-term activity involving the implementation of more than one project; sometimes used interchangeably with the word "project". The projects included in the programs are usually of the same type and belong to the same industry.

A project is a set of activities (usually less than three years) consisting of interrelated tasks, with clearly defined goals, schedule and budget.

A task is a short-term action (lasting from a few days to several weeks) carried out by an organization or one of its departments; in combination with other tasks, it can be combined into a project.

The approach to project management is applicable to both programs, projects, and tasks. However, this is mainly considered at the design and program level. Despite the fact that the term "project" is used mainly in the following text, all the concepts set forth below, of course, apply to programs.

Understanding these three key concepts is the first step to sound program and project management. In English, for example, the word "program" often refers to a plan, and the Spanish "proyecto," french "projet," and Italian "progette" are often used to refer to a technical drawing or plan rather than a project in the sense in which they are used in a given textbook. In some organizations, the word "programme" may refer to an ongoing activity (e.g., a long-term curriculum). This use of the word "program" differs from the meaning of the term used herein.

As a result of the analysis and study of many projects, some basic characteristics common to all projects were identified. Listed below are the most important of them from a managerial point of view.

Projects are complex activities with a beginning and an end, and each project is unique.

Projects are designed in such a way as to achieve a specific result at a specific time and in accordance with the specific planned efforts of the project (budget). They should not rely on the functional structure of the organization, but should create their own independent structure. Each project is unique: none of them is an exact copy of previous projects. For example, an organization might build dozens of similar homes. But during the construction of each of them, the individual wishes of the customer were taken into account, which influenced the internal layout, the quality and cost of finishing, the presence of certain technical systems (heating, water supply, etc.), which ultimately gave each object individual characteristics.

A project is a process of achieving certain results.

A project can be seen as a holistic individual process necessary to create a new product, a new workshop or plant, a new branch, such as a bank or university, a new management system, or to achieve other predetermined results. Often more attention is paid to the product being created than to the process by which it is created, but both the product and the process of its creation, i.e. the implementation of the project, require effective management. It should be noted that the final result is not a project, but something useful for the customer of the project.

Main features of the project

As in most organizational activities, the main goal of the project is to meet the needs of the customer. In addition to this basic similarity, the characteristics of the project help distinguish it from other organizational activities. The main characteristics of the project are as follows:

  1. A specific goal of the project;
  2. A certain date of its implementation;
  3. Involvement in the implementation of various departments and specialists of various profiles;
  4. Novelty: usually something that has never been done before is carried out;
  5. special requirements for the timing, cost and quality of work.
  6. Let's look at these characteristics in more detail.
  7. First, the project has a specific goal, whether it is to build a 12-storey residential complex by January 1 next year or to release version 2.0 of a specific software package in the shortest possible time. Such a single, specific goal is often absent in the day-to-day operations of an organization, where employees perform the same work day in and day out.

Second, because there is a well-defined goal, the project has a strictly defined completion date, which is not at all like the current responsibilities in traditional types of work. In many cases, employees move from one project to another instead of staying and continuing the same work. For example, after the construction of the stadium in Samara, an engineer may be appointed who will work on the construction of an oil refinery in Ufa.

Thirdly, unlike most types of organizational work, which is divided according to the principle of functional specialization, projects are characterized by the fact that they combine and unite the efforts of different specialists. Instead of working in separate offices under the supervision of specific managers, project participants, whether engineers, finance, marketing or procurement specialists, work under the guidance of a project manager to implement the project.

Fourth, projects are never the same and always contain some unique elements. And the question is not whether there will be such unique elements, but what will be the degree of uniqueness. It is obvious that the implementation of what has never been done before, for example, the organization of the systematic movement of the merchant fleet along the Northern Sea Route, will require the solution of new tasks and the use of new traffic management technologies. 


On the other hand, even simple construction projects using well-known and proven methods and techniques require a certain degree of adaptation to specific conditions defined by the customer, which also makes them unique. Finally, projects are limited in time, cost, and specific performance requirements. Projects are evaluated by what was completed, how much it cost, and how much time was spent on it.

The last three constraints entail more responsibility than many other jobs. These three factors highlight one of the main functions of project management, which is to achieve a balance between time, cost and work while maximizing customer satisfaction.

From a systemic point of view, the project can be considered as a process of transition of the sociotechnical system from the initial state to the final state within the framework of a set of restrictions and mechanisms.

Project Lifecycle and Phases

Life cycle means that projects have a finite time period, as well as predictable changes in the level of effort and attention to the life of the project. There are several lifecycle models in the project management literature. Many of them are applicable to a specific industry or type of project. For example, a new software development project may consist of 5 stages: Program Task (determining the scope of work), design, coding (programming), integration/testing, and operations.

The project life cycle goes through four phases in sequence: Definition, planning, execution and completion (delivery of results to the customer). It all starts the moment the project starts. The project unfolds slowly, the effort gradually reaches its peak, and then stops when the project is delivered to the customer. 


At the "Definitions" stage, the project is specified (specifications are drawn up), project goals are established, teams are formed, and responsibilities are defined. During the "Planning" phase, additional efforts are made and plans are developed to determine what the project will include, when it should be completed, who will benefit, what level of quality of work should be maintained and what the estimated costs will be. 


The "Execution" phase is the stage in which most of the work on the project is done, both physically and mentally. A tangible product (for example, a bridge, a report, a computer program) is created. For monitoring purposes, they verify that the project is completed on time, within budget, and that the approved specifications are met. 


What are the predictions for each of these parameters? What changes need to be made? At the "delivery" stage, two things are usually performed: the finished product of the project is transferred to the customer, and the project resources are redistributed. Delivery of the project product may include training the customer and the transfer of the necessary documentation. Redistribution usually means freeing up equipment (and/or materials) for other projects and creating new tasks for project team members.

In practice, the project lifecycle is used by some project teams to determine deadlines for key tasks throughout the project. For example, the project team may plan its main efforts during the definition phase, while the quality team naturally concentrates its main efforts on the later stages of the project life cycle. And because most organizations have a complete portfolio of projects running simultaneously, each at different stages of the life cycle, careful planning and management at both the organizational and project levels is necessary.

The project lifecycle has specific start and end points that can be tied to a time frame. The project life cycle includes all phases from initiation to delivery of the project to the client. Transitions from one stage to the next are rarely clearly defined, unless they are formally separated by acceptance of the offer or release from execution.

Project Management Features

Some traditional functional management concepts may lose their effectiveness when applied to projects. The methods and systems of resource planning and management used in functional units are generally ineffective when applied to projects.

Relatively new concepts and systems developed for use in projects do not in themselves create conflicts and problems, but rather identify already existing differences, conflicts and inconsistencies between projects and the functional structure of organizations. In such a situation, the main task of managers is to effectively manage all projects with equally effective management of a functional organization.

The main characteristics of the work of project managers, based on the above characteristics, are the following:

  • Projects should be managed throughout their life cycle, with maximum continuity of responsibility and continuity of integrated planning and control from the beginning to the completion of the project;
  • In the process of project management, it is necessary to pay equal attention to both the product, i.e. the result of the project, and the process of creating this product, i.e. the project itself;
  • Decisions made early in the project have a greater impact on the timing and total cost of the project than decisions made later.
  • The cost of accelerating the project increases exponentially as the completion dates approach.
  • The cost of compensating for lost time tends to increase rapidly with each subsequent phase of the project. In Fig. 1.6 The American researcher R. Archibald illustrates this situation with the example of a large project.
  • From the figure, it can be seen that the cost of solving the problem of reducing the project by two weeks increases exponentially as you approach the completion of the project. This feature underscores the need for comprehensive monitoring of project implementation at all stages and a focus on project initiation and early stages in order to avoid delays and reduce lead times. In other words, making changes to the project in the early stages is incomparably cheaper than in the final stages.

We consider the project as a series of unique events that are not based on the organizational structure and have a certain start and end date, their own schedule, cost and technical specifications. Therefore, project management is very different from the management of a regular functional department with the same routine work, which does not have a clear completion date, where R. Archibald compares project activities and accounting (functional) work in terms of costs of performing work.

R. Gilbreth argues that "the uniqueness of action and result is the hallmark of the project." Consistency and uniformity are typical of the traditional functional activities of organizations..... Functional activities are aimed at the day-to-day support or use of a product or service, while projects are aimed at creating and enabling the use of these products and services. Consequently, in a normal business cycle, projects precede functional activities." While successful functional activities can be seen as a continuous stream of activities ending in a predictable series of similar outcomes, each project should be seen as a temporary surge in activities that leads to a unique, unified outcome. Functional activities may also continue after certain results have been achieved, while projects are terminated when results are achieved.

Principles of project classification

Project classifications can be built on various sites.

First, let's determine the type of project, distinguishing projects according to the main areas of activity in which they are performed. Depending on the type, projects can be represented as follows:

  • Commercial projects carried out under contracts for the production of a product or the provision of services;
  • Research, development and engineering projects;
  • Design and construction of large production facilities;
  • Information systems projects;
  • Management projects;

Maintenance and support of projects (in manufacturing, processing, municipal and other industries).
Depending on where they are executed, a distinction is made between internal and external projects. Internal projects are carried out directly in the organization, where customers and executors are members of this organization, and all work related to the design and implementation of the project is carried out at the expense of the organization's own resources.

Most often, this type of project is used in cases where the work performed corresponds to the main activity of the organization. For example, if an organization is undertaking a project to produce new software, it is likely that it will have sufficient relevant development professionals to have the necessary skills to produce a product of this kind.

Internal projects have greater flexibility and efficiency in decision-making and can more easily cope with all sorts of surprises and unforeseen circumstances that arise during the implementation of the project. It is probably difficult to find an organization that does not deal with its own projects - their scale is so wide: these are such projects as improving quality, developing new logistics schemes, conducting advertising campaigns and presentations, making changes to the organizational structure or remuneration system of personnel, as well as launching products in a new market and much more.

Another advantage of internal projects is the lack of external control: if the contract does not provide for penalties, the organization can constantly change decisions about the conditions, resources, technologies, people involved, etc. during the implementation of the project. However, the project manager should be careful when taking advantage of the decision change feature: Any such change increases the cost of the project. Another problem is that employees with certain knowledge and skills acquired during the implementation of previous projects are not inclined to change the methods of work in order to work more efficiently or introduce new technologies, as all this increases the risks of the project and does not lead to obvious benefits for them. In this case, employees do not understand the need to change existing working methods. In addition, proposed changes are often perceived as criticism of employees and met with resistance to implementation. All this can lead to conflict and, as a result, to a decrease in labor productivity.

Many managers in an organization encounter, plan and successfully implement internal projects even without special knowledge in the field of project management. Due to the relative simplicity and clarity of the goals and the ways to achieve them, common sense and management experience are sufficient to manage most internal projects.

However, organizations often have to carry out complex projects that require special knowledge and skills. In most cases, such projects are related to the development strategy of the organization and are part of it, so they are in the focus of attention of the management and owners of the organization. For such projects, a project team is formed, the head of which - the project manager - usually reports directly to the head of the organization, the general director.

On the Management Coursework page you will find many ready-made topics for coursework on the subject "Management".

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