Published here August 2020

PART 1 | Introduction to Part 2 | Front End of What?
An Internet Search | A More Recent View in the Discussion | Pre-project Study | Summary

Introduction to Part 2

Last month, in Part 1 of this paper, I set out my concern and some of the background to the issue and content of a project's so-called "Front End". In this Part 2, it seems to me to be not unreasonable to ask the question: "Front end of what?" and then to seek a better understanding of what this so-called front-end actually involves. Perhaps then we can discover the answer to our question: When does a project actually start?

At the same time, I believe it uncovers a serious and vitally important gap in the typical portrayal of current project management methodology.

Essentially, this is because of a failure to properly understand the role of the "Project Life Span" — or "Cycle" if you must,[1] and its influence on the ultimate success of any given project. As noted in Part 1 of this paper, in our search for a description covering starting a project, we found upward of 40 varying definitions of the word project and while some did mention the start of a project, none exactly defined it.[2]

In the light of this diversity of definitions representing the term "project", scholarly project management organizations around the world like to define the meaning of "project" in the simplest possible terms.[3] That is to say:

  • Project — A temporary endeavor created to produce agreed deliverables;[4]
  • Project — A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.[5]

In other words, the very complex nature of a project in real life is carefully avoided to the point that the resulting definition is almost meaningless. Indeed, there is no mention of the importance of the project start and finish, and not to mention things like prerequisite Business Cases, or Charters, and the elements of time and cost that require some form of approvals from those in authority.

Introduction to Part 1  PART 1

1. Note: Many people insist on using the term (project life) cycle and justify that by making the connection to the reproduction of wild life generally. Or indeed, trotting out the comparison to the birth, marriage and death of the family life cycle. However, the life of an individual is not cyclical — you are born, you live, and you end, just like a project. At no time, so far, are you able to cycle back to an earlier age. What has gone by has gone by — just as in a project and you would not refer your life existence as a "cycle". So, some other word, rather than "cycle" is needed to convey a project's life span. My choice is "span".
2. Part 1 of this paper, Introduction, item 4.
3. No doubt as a compromise over multifarious disagreements.
4. ISO Project Management Definitions,
5. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, 6th Edition, ©2017 Project Management Institute, Inc., Newtown Square, PA, Glossary page 715.
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