For the sake of consistency, we need to understand what we mean by a project. Project managers who have been involved with projects for a while usually have a clear view. Although the definition of a project may seem obvious to experienced projects managers it is often not so clear to new project managers or managers with only business as usual or operational experience.
Many definitions of a project are written in rather worthy and pretentious terms. For all practical purposes a project has clear set of characteristics, projects:
A project may be a one-off or it may be part of a series of linked projects or programme of work to deliver strategic outcomes. In such cases, the allocation of resources and project organisation may not appear temporary. Good project discipline requires formal closure of a project when it has delivered its objectives (or abandoned for whatever reason); then a new project properly initiated with its own clear scope and constraints.
Within a project there may individual functional or specialist workstreams. These may appear to be projects in their own right. However, it will usually not meet the test of being complete standalone pieces of work that deliver benefits to the body commissioning the work. For example, these might be the testing function on a software project or planning control on a building project.
Here at Solidus when we refer to a project we will base our discussion on this model for a project. In real life, many clients and project owners blur the distinction between workstream, project, programme and portfolio. It is the responsibility of the project manager initiating the project to make sure the boundaries and constraints of the work are clelarly defined to his or her satisfaction. It is against that Project Initiation Document (PID) the project manager will be judged.