From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A project is any undertaking, carried out individually or collaboratively and possibly involving research or design, that is carefully planned to achieve a particular goal.[1]

An alternative view sees a project managerially as a sequence of events: a "set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations".[2]

A project may be a temporary (rather than a permanent) social system (work system), possibly staffed by teams (within or across organizations) to accomplish particular tasks under time constraints.[3]: Section 1.2 [4]

A project may form a part of wider programme management[5]: 1  or function as an ad hoc system.[6]: 922 

Open-source software "projects" or artists' musical "projects" (for example) may lack defined team-membership, precise planning and/or time-limited durations.


The word project comes from the Latin word projectum from the Latin verb proicere, "before an action", which in turn comes from pro-, which denotes precedence, something that comes before something else in time (paralleling the Greek πρό) and iacere, "to do". The word "project" thus originally meant "before an action".

When the English language initially adopted the word, it referred to a plan of something, not to the act of actually carrying this plan out. Something performed in accordance with a project became known as an "object". Every project has certain phases of development.

Based on the Project Management Institute, a project can be defined as a "temporary endeavor" aimed to drive changes in teams, organizations, or societies. The output of a project is normally a unique product, service, or result.[3]: Section 1.2 


Project cancellation is the termination of a project prior to its completion and generally includes the cessation of access to funding and other project resources. Project cancellation may result from cost overruns, schedule overruns, changes in budget, change or obviation of the goal of the project, political factors, or any combination of those and other factors. Contracts often stipulate the time and the manner in which a project may be cancelled.

Contracted projects typically have a specified end date, when the contract may or may not be renewed; nonrenewal often has the same effect as cancellation but carries different legal ramifications.

Formal definition in the project-management realm[edit]

A project consists of a concrete and organized effort motivated by a perceived opportunity when facing a problem, a need, a desire or a source of discomfort (e.g., lack of proper ventilation in a building). It seeks the realization of a unique and innovative deliverable, such as a product, a service, a process, or in some cases, a scientific research. Each project has a beginning and an end,[7]: 53 [3]: Section 1.2  and as such is considered[by whom?] a closed dynamic system.[citation needed] It is developed along the 4 Ps of project management: Plan, Processes, People, and Power (e.g. line of authority).[citation needed] It is bound by the triple constraints that are calendar, costs and norms of quality,[7]: 53  each of which can be determined and measured objectively along the project lifecycle.[citation needed] Some projects produce some level of formal documentation, the deliverable(s), and some impacts, which can be positive and/or negative.[7]: 52 

Specific uses[edit]

School and university[edit]

A project is an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned and researched about by students. At schools, educational institutes and universities, a project is a research assignment - given to a student - which generally requires a larger amount of effort and more independent work than that involved in a normal essay assignment. It requires students to undertake their fact-finding and analysis, either from library/internet research or from gathering data empirically. The written report that comes from the project is usually in the form of a dissertation, which will contain sections on the project's inception, analysis, findings and conclusions.[8]

Project management[edit]

In project management, a project consists of a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.[3]: Section 1.2  Another definition is a management environment that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to a specified business case.[9] Projects can also be seen as temporary organizations.[10]

Project objectives define target status at the end of the project, reaching of which is considered necessary for the achievement of planned benefits. They can be formulated as SMART criteria:[3]: Section [11] Projects are often guided by a steering group.

  • Specific
  • Measurable (or at least evaluable) achievement
  • Achievable (recently Agreed to or Acceptable are used[by whom?] regularly as well)
  • Realistic (given the current state of organizational resources)
  • Time terminated (bounded)

The evaluation (measurement) occurs at the project closure. However, a continuous guard on the project progress should be kept by monitoring and evaluating.

Civil and military construction and industry infrastructure[edit]

In civil, military and industry (e.g. oil and gas) infrastructure, capital projects refer to activities to construct and install equipment, facilities and buildings. As these activities are temporary endeavors with clear start and end dates, the term "project" is applied. Because the results of these activities are typically long-standing infrastructure, with a life measured in years or decades, these projects are typically accounted for in financial accounting as capital expenditures, and thus they are termed "capital projects".

Computer software[edit]

In computer software, a project can consist of programs, configuration definitions and related data.[citation needed] For example, in Microsoft Visual Studio, a "solution" consists of projects and other definitions.[12]

State project[edit]

It can be defined as "a set of state policies and/or agencies unified around a particular issue or oppression".[13] Therefore, these kinds of projects involve constant change and dynamism due to the social constructions that evolve among time. State projects have to adapt to the current moment. They are mostly community services based.

Infrastructure code[edit]

In the context of infrastructure code, a project is a collection of code used to build a discrete component of the system. There is no rule on how much a single project or its component can include.[14]


Some analyses of project-oriented activity distinguish - using military-style terminology - between grandiose strategic projects and more trivial or component operational projects: tactical projects.[15][16]: 208, Chapter 15: Dealing with 'Unprojects' 


Topics associated with projects[edit]


  1. ^ Compare: "definition of project in English from the Oxford dictionary". English. Oxford Dictionaries. 2016. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2016. Definition of project project in English: [...] An individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim [...]
  2. ^ "What is a project? definition and meaning". Retrieved 10 June 2018. project [:] [...] Planned set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations.
  3. ^ a b c d e Project Management Institute 2021.
  4. ^ Compare the somewhat circular definition: Manning, Stephan (2008). "Embedding projects in multiple contexts – a structuration perspective". International Journal of Project Management. 26: 35. doi:10.1016/j.ijproman.2007.08.012. S2CID 111365140. Retrieved 6 September 2016. Two theoretical propositions have been made: First, projects as temporary systems are characterized by certain structural properties, in particular task specifications, time constraints and team relations, that guide project activities.
  5. ^ Mittal 2009.
  6. ^ Kuijper 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Mesley 2016.
  8. ^ Thomas, G: How to do your research project. Sage Publications Inc, 2009....
  9. ^ R. Max Wideman (2004), A Management Framework: For Project, Program and Portfolio Integration. p. 30
  10. ^ Turner, J. Rodney, and Ralf Müller. "On the nature of the project as a temporary organization." International journal of project management 21.1 (2003): 1-8.
  11. ^ Carr, David, Make Sure Your Project Goals are SMART, PM Hut. Accessed 18. Oct 2009.
  12. ^ Hundhausen 2006.
  13. ^ Deric. 2011.
  14. ^ Morris, Kief. "Infrastructure as Code | Second edition". Thoughtworks. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
  15. ^ Banks, Linda (2017). "What Is a Strategic Project?". Small Business. Houston Chronicle. Hearst Newspapers, LLC. Retrieved 9 February 2017. Organizations can be good at tactical projects, such as moving to a new building or introducing a new product. These are projects that have one operational goal, which probably does not entail contributions by most employees within the organization. In these projects, meeting a tactical goal on time and within budget are key considerations. A strategic project, on the other hand, has a primary goal of gaining the competitive advantage by focusing on the organization's overall direction.
  16. ^ Williams 2011.


  • Deric., Shannon (1 January 2011). Political sociology : oppression, resistance, and the state. Pine Forge Press. ISBN 9781412980401. OCLC 746832550.
  • Hundhausen, Richard (2006). Working with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System. Developer Reference Series (2 ed.). Microsoft Press. p. 108. ISBN 9780735621855. Retrieved 10 February 2017. After a design has been validated the Application Designer will generate a skeleton implementation with projects, code, and configuration files that precisely match the design.
  • Kuijper, Pieter Jan; Wouters, Jan; Hoffmeister, Frank; de Baere, Geert; Ramopoulos, Thomas (5 September 2013). The Law of EU External Relations: Cases, Materials, and Commentary on the EU as an International Legal Actor. Oxford University Press (published 2013). p. 922. ISBN 9780199682478. Retrieved 13 June 2021. One or more participating Member States or the Chief Executive may submit to the Steering Board an ad hoc project or programme within the Agency's remit, which shall presume general participation by the participating Member States.
  • Mesly, Olivier (2016). Project Feasibility: Tools for Uncovering Points of Vulnerability. Systems Innovation Book Series. New York: CRC Press (published 2017). p. 53. ISBN 9781315295237. Retrieved 17 June 2019. For the purpose of a feasibility analysis, a project is a concrete and organized effort that leads to the realization of a unique and innovative deliverable, which can be a product, service or process, or even a science research initiative, which is conceived based on a perceived opportunity. The project has a beginning and an end, which can sometimes serve as a new bedrock for a different project. It involves a plan, some processes, people and a line of authority; it contains inherent challenges and problems.
  • Mittal, Prashant (December 2009). "Programme Management: An Introduction". Programme Management: Managing Multiple Projects Successfully. New Delhi: Global India Publications (published 2009). p. 1. ISBN 9789380228204. Retrieved 13 June 2021. Programme Management is the process of managing multiple independent projects [...]. [...] Projects deliver outputs; programmes create outcomes. [...] Programme management is concerned with doing the right projects, whereas project management is about doing projects right.
  • Project Management Institute (2021). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide) (7th ed.). Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute. ISBN 978-1-62825-664-2.
  • Williams, Todd C.; Kendrick, Tom (2011). "15: Dealing with 'Unprojects'". Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure. AMACOM Division: American Management Association. p. 208. ISBN 9780814416839. Retrieved 9 February 2017. The strategic project has a long-term goal to satisfy needs not included in the funding project. [...] a strategic project usually has scope as its most critical issue, while a tactical project has schedule, cost, or a different set of scope as the primary constraint.