Projects make up almost half of the work that most organizations do. Organizations use projects to help meet their strategic goals. In terms of strategic goals, projects may help an organization meet changes in market demands, customer requests, or organizational requirements. They may also help an organization make the most of technological advances or meet legal requirements. So projects form an important role in organizations. But what exactly is a project, and how is it any different from other types of work? First, a project is work that produces a unique product, service, or result. Second, a project has a temporary duration. It has a definite beginning and an end. Although projects are temporary, they are not necessarily short lived. A project's life span can vary from a few days to several years. The key is that a project has a set beginning and an end point. Progressive elaboration is a characteristic of a project. When a project starts, you're unlikely to know all the details required for its success. However, you will have an idea of the required end result. Progressive elaboration involves clarifying and refining a project over time.
Project teams continuously improve and adjust project plans as more information becomes available. As a project manager, you need to understand how these adjustments affect project timelines and budgets. This knowledge assists with decision making for the project. Progressive elaboration should not be confused with scope creep. Scope creep happens when there are unwanted and uncontrolled changes to a project. Uncontrolled means they are made without addressing the effects of the changes on other aspects of the project, such as resource use or customer expectations. The same issues that might trigger scope creep, such as customer requests and resource changes, actually trigger progressive elaboration when a project is properly managed. Project managers must be on the lookout for issues and new information that must result in updates to plans. Almost any change to the scope of a project affects its budget and schedule. So the project team and the customer need to discuss and agree on changes before they take any action. The work that organizations do on a day-to-day basis is either operational work or project work. You need to be able to distinguish between these types of work. As I mentioned, project work is temporary, unique, and finished when specific objectives have been met. For example, when you develop training material to update supervisor skills, you are undertaking project work.