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For the urban low-income housing buildings called projects, see Public housing. For other uses, see Wikipedia Projects. For :Wikipedia:WikiProject, see Project (disambiguation).

In contemporary business and science, a project is an individual or collaborative enterprise, possibly involving research or design, that is carefully planned, usually by the project assigned team, to achieve a particular aim.[1]

One can also define a project as a set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations.[2]

One can view projects as temporary (rather than permanent) social systems or as work systems that are constituted by teams within or across organizations to accomplish particular tasks under time constraints.[3] An ongoing project is usually[quantify] called (or evolves into) a program.


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 actually 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.

Specific uses[edit]

School and university[edit]

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 own 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 an dissertation, which will contain sections on the project's inception, analysis, findings and conclusions...[4]

Project management[edit]

Main article: project management

In project management a project consists of a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.[5] Another definition is: a management environment that is created[by whom?] for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to a specified business case.[citation needed]

Project objectives define target status at the end of the project, reaching of which is considered[by whom?] necessary for the achievement of planned benefits. They can be formulated as SMART criteria:[6]

  • 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. Note that SMART is best applied for incremental-type innovation projects.[citation needed] For radical-type projects it does not apply so well. Goals for such projects tend to be broad, qualitative, stretch/unrealistic and success will be driven.[citation needed]

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.[7]


Some analyses of project-oriented activity distinguish - using military-style terminology - between grandiose strategic projects and more trivial or component operational projects: tactical projects.[8][9] Courses in topics such as "Strategic Project Management"[10] foster the concept of the strategic project.

Notable examples[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Compare: "definition of project in English from the Oxford dictionary". English. Oxford Dictionaries. 2016. Retrieved 2016-09-06. 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 2016-04-19. 
  3. ^ Compare: Manning, Stephan (2008). "Embedding projects in multiple contexts – a structuration perspective". International Journal of Project Management. 26: 35. Retrieved 2016-09-06. 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. 
  4. ^ Thomas, G: How to do your research project. Sage Publications Inc, 2009....
  5. ^ A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), Third Edition, Project Management Institute.
  6. ^ Carr, David, Make Sure Your Project Goals are SMART, PM Hut. Accessed 18. Oct 2009.
  7. ^ Compare: Hundhausen, Richard (2006). Working with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System. Developer Reference Series (2 ed.). Microsoft Press. p. 108. ISBN 9780735621855. Retrieved 2017-02-10. 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. 
  8. ^ Banks, Linda (2017). "What Is a Strategic Project?". Small Business. Houston Chronicle. Hearst Newspapers, LLC. Retrieved 2017-02-09. 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. 
  9. ^ 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 2017-02-09. 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. 
  10. ^ For example: "Mini-MBA Certified Strategic Project Management Professional (SPMP)". iIET. Santa Monica, California: International Institute of Executive Training. Retrieved 2017-02-09. The International Institute for Executive Training (iIET) Mini-MBA Strategic Project Management Professional (SPMP) is a unique blend of cutting-edge research and proven techniques from leading-practice companies that provides crucial insights and practical tools for managing projects.