This unpublished paper was first written in February 1996 and has since been revised several times and is now updated for web presentation.

Note: The Project Management Institute, USA, has adopted the acronyms "PMI", "PMBOK", "PMP" as their registered marks.
Published here May 2003.

Background | Terminology | The Nature of Projects | Unique Features of Projects
What Projects are Not | General Observations on a Project Body of Knowledge
The Life Span of Projects
 | Elements of the Project Life Span

What Projects are Not

Since a project is by definition a unique set of activities not repeated in operational cycle(s), it follows that we can also define a project by exclusion. For example, a monthly closing is not usually considered a project. But an effort to study the closing process and its related activities, timings, resource utilization, etc. in order to improve some aspect or feature of the closing can indeed be a project.

The statement about non-cyclic nature needs interpretation. For example in process plant construction each project will in fact have piping spools that are cut/fit/welded and then installed/tested. However, the design, procurement, installation, test, startup and turnover process for that plant will not be repeated. When a similar plant is to be built in almost the same configuration but at a different location, the differences introduced by time, changes in markets, techniques, infrastructure, etc. not to mention the possibility of a different client, all make each project unique.

Another aspect of project work is that projects are rarely successful when run by a committee. Not that there is anything theoretically wrong with assigning a project to a committee, it is just that committee management is not suited to the needs of successful projects. A wag once observed that a camel was the product of a committee running a project to produce a horse!

Unique Features of Projects  Unique Features of Projects

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