What have Projects ever done for us?
I am often asked by clients how to distinguish between “Projects” and routine business. If this is not clear in a business, then you could well be asking the question “What have projects ever done for us?”
A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. (According to the Project Management Institute)
A “business” refers to the organised efforts and activities of individuals to produce and sell goods and services for profit. (www.forbes.com/business)
A project is:
- Involves unique work
- Introduces a change into the business
- Engages in delivering a new product or service for the business
- Generally is finished and disbanded before the sale of a new product or service begins
A business is:
- Involves repetitive work
- Engages in trading (selling products or services) with other businesses or the public
- Involved in ongoing customer service and maintenance
Essentially, Projects provide the means to create your new or modified product or service, thereby executing your business strategy. They are “How” you implement your business plans and objectives.
A business trades food products into a foreign market. There are new regulations coming into force at the end of the year which will require the business to modify and upgrade its packaging labels for compliance. This represents a departure from normal business.
The organisation does not have a compliance/legal department which might handle this seemingly routine piece of work as part of their operations, and when examined closely the work to become compliant is in fact an unknown entity, will affect/impact on several or more workstreams in the organisation and may require outside assistance.
There are now some challenges facing the organisation and the following questions come to the fore:
- who will lead the work?
- who will define success?
- how will we identify and decide what needs to be done?
- Who will organise and manage the cross functional team to do the work?
To execute this piece of work a project is setup identifying a project manager and a cross functional team who will deliver the labelling on time and deal with any other requirements for the workstreams affected by the change in regulation. This is a temporary, unique piece of work, which introduces change to the organisation, delivering a new product or required standard to enable the organisation to remain trading as usual.
A simple example of What Projects actually do for us!