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Project, its Characteristics and Role of Project Manager

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A project is a unique endeavor undertaken, to create a unique product or service or result.

In other words, we can say that a project is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities, to meet the project requirements.

Projects are performed by people. They are constrained by limited resources and are temporary in nature, i.e., they are done once and finished.

Project Characteristics

(a) They have definite beginning and end.

(b) They are temporary in nature.

(c) Projects are completed when:

(i) The project objectives are met.

(ii) The project objectives cannot be met with available budget, time, resources or chosen technology.

(iii) Funding is exhausted.

(iv) The need to perform the project is changed or eliminated.

(iv) Project has to be closed due to legal or contractual issues.

Examples of Project

(a) Developing the design of a new car

(b) Going for a journey to Paris.

(c) Writing a book.

(d) Developing a website.

(e) Writing a blog post.

(f) Building a school building.

(g) Organizing a marriage function.

Difference Between Projects and Operations

The difference between projects and operations is that the projects are temporary endeavors with a definite beginning and definite end while the operations are ongoing and repetitive.

Why do projects fail?

It is important to understand why do the projects fail. There may be several reasons due to which projects may fail. Some of the reasons are listed below:

(i) Requirements are misunderstood or incorrect.

(ii) Scope Creep

(iii) Shortage of funds

(iv) Sponsor not actively involved in the project planning and strategy

(v) Project management team not skilled enough

(vi) Poor or no change control

Difference between Project, Program & Portfolio

The project is a set of coordinated activates arranged sequentially to achieve the desirable goal of objective, while the program is defined as a group of related projects, subprograms and program activities managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually. A portfolio may consist of other portfolios, programs and projects. The components may or may not be interdependent. A portfolio is a collection of projects, programs, sub- projects and operations managed as a group to achieve some strategic objectives.

Features of Program Management

(a) There should be some value added in managing the projects together as a program which is not gained by managing the projects individually.

(b) A project need not belong to a program but a program always has projects in it.

(c) A program is designed to provide some strategic benefits to the organization, which may be tangible (enhance the profit margin) or intangible (improving the brand value).

(d) A project manager focuses on fulfilling the requirements of a project; while a program manager focuses on delivering the value to the organization.

Project Manager and His Roles

The project manager is a person who manages and coordinate all the activities, stakeholders and changes in a project. The role of project manager are as follows:

(i) He is fully responsible and accountable for the project.

(ii) He leads all the project planning and execution activities.

(iii) He defines project roles and responsibilities.

(iv) A project manager performs risk analysis and risk management.

(v) A project manager enforces change controls.

(vi) He manages all the project stakeholders.

Project Manager Skills

The project manager should have following skills:

Technical skills

A project manager should have knowledge about the core principles of project management. Apart from the basic subject knowledge, technical knowhow about the project management software and formal certifications like PMP, etc. help project manager in managing projects effectively.

Strategic and Business Management

The project manager should have business acumen, basic management vision and knowledge of business strategy.


A project manager leads all the project activities therefore he/ she should have leadership skills, like he/ should motivate and guide the project team. Soft skills like communications, facilitation, conflict resolution, emotional intelligence and critical thinking are also necessary for project manager.


Project is an application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to accomplish some outcome. The projects are unique and temporary in nature. They are different from operations in a way that the operations are ongoing and repetitive while the projects are temporary and unique. There may be many reasons of project failure. Shortage of funds, incorrect requirements, scope creep, poor or no change control are some of the reasons of project failure. The project manager should have technical, management and leadership skills to manage the project effectively.

Also read: Sustainable Project Management and Its Benefits

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Rajesh Pant
Rajesh Pant
My name is Rajesh Pant. I am M. Tech. (Civil Engineering) and M. B. A. (Infrastructure Management). I have gained knowledge of contract management, procurement & project management while I handled various infrastructure projects as Executive Engineer/ Procurement & Contract Management Expert in Govt. Sector. I also have exposure of handling projects financed by multi-lateral organizations like the World Bank Projects. During my MBA studies I developed interest in management concepts.
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