What is a Project?

What is a project?  According to the Project Management Institute a project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. A project is temporary because it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. The short video identifies several types of projects to include creating a program, developing a product, implementing a new procedure, constructing a building or designing any one of the preceding projects. The video also mentions a few events; weddings, vacations, and family reunions. I mention these types of events for the benefit of students that may not be familiar with projects in a work setting and need a reference point to visualize a project.  That is not to say event planning is not seen in a professional work setting.  I have filled the role of project manager for a number of events to include golf tournaments, banquets, concerts, and food and clothing drives for the local food pantry.

The goals of all projects are the same; deliver a quality product, service, or service, on time and within budget to the satisfaction of the client or primary stakeholder.  I have found construction projects  challenging due to their large, often enormous scope,  timeline, and budget that requires hundreds of human resources and thousands of material resources costing millions of dollars over the course of several years.  Yet, a large project can be forgiving and contingency planning provides for adjustments in scope, schedules and budgets.

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Recently, I planned a farm to table harvest festival that required me to procure and cook fresh produce for a large  group. The schedule left little room for error and the requirement for fresh local produce limited my options for obtaining resources.  I started prepping some of the food the day before and carefully timed the courses to be served over the span of a few hours.  My only contingency plan was to order from a local restaurant should I run into trouble; luckily I did not.  As a result of the event I have a new found respect for Chefs that offer new menus on a weekly, if not daily basis.  Not only must they be skilled at their craft, they have to be highly skilled project managers.  Cooking for a large event is not as forgiving as constructing a building.