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Project alfa

I know it sounds strange, but a few days ago, one of my small business clients actually asked me, “What is a business project?” I found myself wondering how to answer that. After all, we’re all being bombarded with advice about projects. The media is constantly filled with news of one project or another that fails. But they usually talk about major construction or municipal infrastructure projects. And then they try to justify business people learning about project management because of the construction failures.

So in this article, I’m going to try to explain what is a business project and why it is unique from other types of projects. And while I’m at it, I’ll explain where they are the same. First of all, let’s clarify what a project is and then we’ll talk about the specific version.

A project is a set of tasks. In business planning speak that’s just another way of saying it’s a process or system. However, unlike most business systems one of its key characteristics is that it has a specific beginning and end. Most business systems are permanent. Or at least have some level of permanency to them. A project, on the other hand, is conceived as a temporary endeavor.

The second key characteristic of a project is that of uniqueness. The product is always unique. The specific set of tasks that make up the project, are almost always unique. The tasks may follow a pattern. The tasks may be individually common. However, the arrangement of tasks and something in the tasks will be unique to this project.