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Project Management Professional

Lesson 1: Foundational Elements

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

  • Unique product, service, or result. Projects are undertaken to fulfill objectives by producing deliverables.
    An objective is defined as an outcome toward which work is to be directed, a strategic position to be attained, a purpose to be achieved, a result to be obtained, a product to be produced, or a service to be performed. A deliverable is defined as any unique and verifiable product, result, or capability to perform a service that is required to be produced to complete a process, phase, or project. Deliverables may be tangible or intangible.
  • Fulfillment of project objectives may produce one or more of the following deliverables:
    • A unique product that can be either a component of another item, an enhancement or correction to an item, or a new end item in itself (e.g., the correction of a defect in an end item);
    • A unique service or a capability to perform a service (e.g., a business function that supports production
      or distribution);
    • A unique result, such as an outcome or document (e.g., a research project that develops knowledge that can
      be used to determine whether a trend exists or a new process will benefit society); and
    • A unique combination of one or more products, services, or results (e.g., a software application, its associated documentation, and help desk services).

Repetitive elements may be present in some project deliverables and activities. This repetition does not change the fundamental and unique characteristics of the project work. For example, office buildings can be constructed with the same or similar materials and by the same or different teams. However, each building project remains unique in key characteristics (e.g., location, design, environment, situation, people involved).

Projects are undertaken at all organizational levels. A project can involve a single individual or a group. A project can involve a single organizational unit or multiple organizational units from multiple organizations.

  • Examples of projects include but are not limited to:
    • Developing a new pharmaceutical compound for market,
    • Expanding a tour guide service,
    • Merging two organizations,
    • Improving a business process within an organization,
    • Acquiring and installing a new computer hardware system for use in an organization,
    • Exploring for oil in a region,
    • Modifying a computer software program used in an organization,
    • Conducting research to develop a new manufacturing process, and
    • Constructing a building.


  • Temporary endeavor.

The temporary nature of projects indicates that a project has a definite beginning and end. Temporary does not necessarily mean a project has a short duration. The end of the project is reached when one or more of the following is true:

    • The project’s objectives have been achieved;
    • The objectives will not or cannot be met;
    • Funding is exhausted or no longer available for allocation to the project;
    • The need for the project no longer exists (e.g., the customer no longer wants the project completed, a change in strategy or priority ends the project, the organizational management provides direction to end the project);
    • The human or physical resources are no longer available; or
    • The project is terminated for legal cause or convenience.

Projects are temporary, but their deliverables may exist beyond the end of the project. Projects may produce deliverables of a social, economic, material, or environmental nature. For example, a project to build a national monument will create a deliverable expected to last for centuries.

  • Projects drive change.

Projects drive change in organizations. From a business perspective, a project is aimed at moving an organization from one state to another state in order to achieve a specific objective.

Before the project begins, the organization is commonly referred to as being in the current state. The desired result of the change driven by the project is described as the future state.

For some projects, this may involve creating a transition state where multiple steps are made along a continuum to achieve the future state. The successful completion of a project results in the organization moving to the future state and achieving the specific objective.

  • Projects enable business value creation.

PMI defines business value as the net quantifiable benefit derived from a business endeavor. The benefit may be tangible, intangible, or both. In business analysis, business value is considered the return, in the form of elements such as time, money, goods, or intangibles in return for something exchanged.

Business value in projects refers to the benefit that the results of a specific project provide to its stakeholders. The benefit from projects may be tangible, intangible, or both.

  • Examples of tangible elements include:
    • Monetary assets,
    • Stockholder equity,
    • Utility,
    • Fixtures,
    • Tools, and
    • Market share.
  • Examples of intangible elements include:
    • Goodwill,
    • Brand recognition,
    • Public benefit,
    • Trademarks,
    • Strategic alignment, and
    • Reputation

Project Initiation Context.

Organizational leaders initiate projects in response to factors acting upon their organizations. There are four fundamental categories for these factors, which illustrate the context of a project;

    • Meet regulatory, legal, or social requirements;
    • Satisfy stakeholder requests or needs;
    • Implement or change business or technological strategies; and
    • Create, improve, or fix products, processes, or services.

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