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Comparison and contrast of project definitions Essay

A project is a sequence of unique, complex, and connected activities that have one goal or purpose and that must be completed by a specific time, within budget, and according to specification. Second definition is given by Wysocki as a “Business-focused” one, and will be referred as such hereinafter. Business-focused definition of a project:

A project is a sequence of finite dependent activities whose successful completion results in the delivery of the expected business value that validated doing the project. Though both definitions may seem similar in nature, there are also marked differences. First of all, both definitions outline a sequence of activities that must be completed. When common definition describes them as “unique, complex and connected”, business-focused approach is about “finite and dependent” activities, uniqueness and complexity of which are implied.

Usage of “dependent” instead of “connected” is justified, since activities may be connected artificially without any technical relationship between them. On the contrary, dependent activities are indeed technically related: the output of activity A would be input for activity B, and so on. “Finite” in business-focused definition basically implies that all activities end when project is over, therefore there is a similarity with “completed by a specific time” part of a common definition. Secondly, both definitions outline some project constraints, though in different ways.

“Successful completion” involves completion “by a specific time, within budget” from common definition, so there’s the second similar trait. However, here lies the most important difference. When common definition describes activities completion as goal/purpose achievement, business-focused one speaks about expected business value that a sequence of activities must deliver. Broadly speaking, business-focused definition supposes that specification, time limits and budget of a project all can be subject to change due to business world dynamics, high levels of uncertainty, or some other causes. Therefore a sequence of activities can only be defined as a project if it delivers expected business value to the customer. It’s an important issue that is omitted by common project definition.

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