What is a Project?

Posted on November 20, 2018
What is a Project?

In these times of continuous innovation and disruptive technologies, good project management is needed more than ever.

Whether you are already in the role or exploring it as a possible career, it doesn’t hurt to reconsider the simple question: what exactly do we mean when we talk about a “project”?

Most of us do project management all the time in our daily lives. Take planning a friend’s birthday bash or a wedding shower, for instance. There’s a time frame, a budget, details large and small to work out, expectations to meet. Other friends may offer to help, so tasks are delegated. It’s different from a regular, casual get-together because special planning and effort is needed.

Like a party planner, a project manager’s role is to meet an objective that can’t be accomplished through a company’s regular day-to-day activity. The project manager defines and agrees to the goals of the project with the client, works within the established parameters, and facilitates a team or teams to carry out the necessary tasks to reach the desired result.

The management of regular, ongoing daily operations is not a project. A car parts manufacturer, a delivery company, a telephone operator, and restaurant work are examples of jobs involving consistent and repetitive products and services. A project has a specific, unique goal; a beginning and an end. A factory would require project management if, for instance, it purchased new production equipment therefore needing installation and employee training.

Architecture and accounting firms, public sector organizations, and research and development companies are all examples of entities that regularly develop new projects. It is the successful management and completion of these new projects, both large and small, that enables organizations to meet the demands of today’s economy and the ever-transforming spheres of technology and society.


This material has been drawn in part from Schulich ExecEd’s upcoming program The PMP® Exam Preparation Course (starting Feb. 4, 2019). The program is designed to help project managers accelerate their careers by getting professional designation (PMP®).