A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. And a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal. So a project team often includes people who don’t usually work together – sometimes from different organisations and across multiple geographies. A project is deemed to be a success if it achieves the objectives according to their acceptance criteria, within an agreed timescale and budget.
Project management is the discipline of planning, organising and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives. The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the goals of the project charter while adhering to three project constraints – defined as time, cost and scope.
Traditional versus Agile project methodologies
In the traditional waterfall methodology, the project is developed phase by phase. The phased approach breaks down and manages the work through a series of distinct steps to be completed, and is often referred to as "traditional" or "waterfall". Typical development phases of an engineering project consist of:
- planning and design
- construction and testing
- monitoring and controlling
- completion or closing
PRINCE2 and Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI), are the most common traditional project methodologies.
Agile project methodologies are iterative and incremental. An iterative process is one that makes progress through successive refinement. Agile software development describes a set of values and principles for software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organising cross-functional teams. It advocates adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement; it also encourages rapid and flexible response to change.
Project management knowledge draws on 10 areas:
- Integration management
- Scope management
- Time management
- Cost management
- Quality management
- Procurement management
- Human resources management
- Communications management
- Risk management
- Stakeholder management
A project audit provides an opportunity to uncover the issues, concerns and challenges encountered in the execution of a project. This audit is performed during the project realisation, providing an interim view of what has gone well and what needs to be improved with the project to successfully complete it. If done at the close of a project, a project audit can be used to develop success criteria for future projects by providing a review. (see Audit engagement)