Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Project Characteristics

1. Temporary

Temporary means that every project has a definite beginning and a definite end. The end is reached when the project's objectives have been achieved, or it becomes clear that the project objectives will not or cannot be met, or the need for the project no longer exists and the project is terminated. Temporary does not necessarily mean short in duration; many projects last for several years. In every case, however, the duration of a project is finite. Projects are not ongoing efforts.

In addition, temporary does not generally apply to the product, service or result created by the project. Most projects are undertaken to create a lasting outcome. For example, a project to erect a national monument will create a result expected to last centuries. Projects also may often have intended and unintended social, economic and environmental impacts that far outlast the projects themselves.

The temporary nature of projects may apply to other aspects of the endeavor as well:
  • The opportunity or market window is usually temporary some projects have a limited time frame in which to produce their product or service.
  • The project team, as a working unit, seldom m created for the sole purpose of performing the project will perform that project, and then the team is disbanded and the team members reassigned when the project ends.
2. Unique Products, Services, or Results

A project creates unique deliverables, which are products, services, or results. Projects can create:
  • A product or artifact that is produced, is quantifiable, and can be either an end item in itself or a component item
  • A capability to perform a service, such as business functions supporting production or distribution
  • A result, such as outcomes or documents. For example, a research project develops knowledge that can be used to determine whether or not a trend is present or a new process will benefit society.
Uniqueness is an important characteristic of project deliverables. For example, many thousands of office buildings have been developed, but each individual facility different owner, different design, different location, different contractors, and so on. The presence of repetitive elements does not change the fundamental uniqueness of the project work.

3. Progressive Elaboration

Progressive elaboration is a characteristic of projects that accompanies the concepts of temporary and unique. Progressive elaboration means developing in steps, and continuing by increments 1 . For example, the project scope will be broadly described early in the project and made more explicit and detailed as the project team develops a better and more complete understanding of the objectives and deliverables. Progressive elaboration should not be confused with scope creep (Section 5.5).

Progressive elaboration of a project's specifications needs to be carefully coordinated with proper project scope definition, particularly if the project is performed under contract. When properly defined, the scope of the proj the work to be d ld be controlled as the project and product specifications are progressively elaborated.

The following examples illustrate progressive elaboration in two different application areas:
  • Development of a chemical processing plant begins with process engineering to define the characteristics of the process. These characteristics are used to design the major processing units. This information becomes the basis for engineering design, which defines both the detailed plant layout and the mechanical characteristics of the process units and ancillary facilities. All of this results in design drawings that are elaborated to produce fabrication and construction drawings. During construction, interpretations and adaptations are made as needed and are subject to proper approval. This further elaboration of the deliverables is captured in as-built drawings, and final operating adjustments are made during testing and turnover.
  • The product of an economic development project may initially be defined as: Improve the quality of life of the lowest income residents of community As the project proceeds, the products may be described more specifically as, for exam and water to 500 low-income residents in community xt round of progressive elaboration might focus exclusively on increasing agriculture production and marketing, with provision of water deemed to be a secondary priority to be initiated once the agricultural component is well under way.

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