What are the Basic Characteristics of a Project?

Understanding the characteristics and the basic concept of a project is vital for any business professional. Projects have become an integral part of modern-day processes as they allow organizations to operate more efficiently and effectively. 

While a PMP certification will familiarize you with these concepts much effectively, which is one of the many reasons to do PMP training, the following blog will give you a brief overview of what a project is and what its basic characteristics are. 


What is project and project management?

While the concepts of a project and project management are interrelated, they are significantly different from each other. It’s vital to understand each of them so you can work with them effectively and recognize their relationship. 

First, we’ll look at the definition of a project and after that, move onto the definition of project management. 


What is a project? 

A project is a finite and specific activity to achieve a specific goal and generate observable results under particular conditions. 

It allows organizations and individuals to achieve their commercial and non-commercial goals with higher efficiency by making the necessary changes. They allow you to make the desired modifications in a planned way and reduce the chances of failure. Projects are significantly different from other work types such as a task, process or procedure. 

It allows you to make changes in a particular environment in a controlled manner. Projects allow individuals and organizations to divide tasks into smaller sections and perform them efficiently in a step-by-step manner. A project can be anything from building a bridge to running a promotion or finalizing a product. 

They are temporary, are progressive attempts to produce a result (product, competitive advantage, service, etc.), and generally have a sequence of interrelated tasks. You plan the tasks in a project to perform over a fixed duration and under certain conditions and limitations including performance, quality, cost, and more. 

Projects are a component of the work breakdown culture, also known as WBS. Other components of WBS are tasks, work units, programs, and work packages. WBS determines the hierarchy of projects in relation to their goals and deliverables. 

Note that a project might contain multiple smaller or larger projects. This means you can break down a project into smaller sub-projects that are related to each other. For further simplification, you can break down a sub-project into tasks each with a specific goal and set of milestones. 


What is project management? 

Project management refers to leading a team’s work to achieve all the required goals within the specified constraints. All the necessary information about a project is generally described in the project’s documentation, which is made at the start of the development process. The chief constraints of a project are its budget, scope, and time. 

In simple terms, project management is the application of tools, skills, and knowledge to the activities related to a project for achieving its goals. 

In project management, you plan, control, and execute a project in a manner that makes sure the successful achievement of your desired outcome. Organizations use project management to deliver goals and achieve their objectives. It accelerates the improvement in a company’s management by applying ideas of participatory management. Project management facilitates the involvement of employees in the decision-making process. 

Project management makes it easier to handle risks as it simplifies the adoption of systems engineering. You can accomplish particular modifications related to the company’s strategies easily by utilizing effective project management. 

Moreover, it helps you mitigate errors by simplifying the organization of the project’s various aspects. The professional who oversees a project and all the activities related to the same, is thus called a project manager. 


What are the basic characteristics of a project?

Following are the primary characteristics of a project: 

A project is unique:

Every project requires you to do something that wasn’t done before. Even for repetitive projects such as construction projects, the variables would change (such as access, laws, labor market, etc.). A project is a once-off and a one-time activity and it is never repeated the same way again. 

A project includes unfamiliarity:

Because a project requires you to do tasks that weren’t done before, it always has unfamiliarity to an extent. In many cases, a project would include new technologies and tools, adding more risk and uncertainty. 

A project has a single definable result:

Every project works towards achieving a specific purpose. It is defined in terms of schedule, cost, and performance requirements. The project goes through various phases, which constitute the project life cycle. It’s the process of working towards a goal and so, the people, tasks, and additional resources involved in the project might change during phases. 

A project cuts across structural lines:

Every project cuts across an organization’s structural lines. That’s because the project requires drawing results from the tales and skills of multiple experts and departments within an organization. In some cases, the project might require expertise from outside the organization (other companies and service providers). Sophisticated technologies are complicated and they lead to further project challenges, creating task interdependencies and introducing unique problems. This also causes the project to require experts from different domains to simplify the tasks and solve the complex problems accordingly. 

A project requires the organization to have something at stake:

The project requires the organization to put in resources and effort because failing to complete the same would jeopardize the organization and its objectives. Failure in completing a project would result in the waste of resources invested in it. 

A project is temporary:

No project is eternal. A project is the ad hoc organization of resources (material, staff, facilities, equipment) for accomplishing a specific objective. The objective has a specified duration and once it’s achieved, the organization created for the project gets disbanded. Sometimes, the components of a project’s organization might be rearranged to work on another project. 



Projects are temporary, unique, and have specific goals to achieve. They enable organizations to achieve their desired outcomes in a well-planned manner. 

They are imperative for succeeding in the modern world. Organizations recognize the importance of projects and project management, and hence, they are always looking for skilled professionals who can handle them effectively. 

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