According to the PMBOK 3rd Ed. a project is a “temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result“. The key words her are temporary and unique.

So what is temporary? Temporary meaning it has a definite beginning and an end (PMBOK, 3rd. Ed)

And what is unique? Unique meaning it is unlike any other project or process undertaken by this organization

So how does that relate to your organization? Well here are some examples of projects: the Annual Bake sale, The Winter Dinner Dance or Gala, the Bus Trip to the Capital, the new Food Bank you’re starting, the annual coat drive you hold. See you have been doing projects all of this time and maybe didn’t realize.

But wait some of these projects have the word “Annual” which means they aren’t unique, they happen every year. Well that’s where the definition of project gets a little tricky, even if you do something regularly it can still be considered a project. If key elements change every time you hold an event then it’s considered a project. For example if every year you change the theme, location, season of your Annual Gala it’s a project. If for this year’s bake sale your hosting at the school and only focusing on cookie baking; and next year you are moving to the fair and focusing on cakes then you have a project.

So now your thinking everything we do is a project, Wow that’s a lot of work. Well not quite everything you do. Things that you do regularly and only make minor changes is not a project. So if you always hold your Gala in the Spring, at the church, with a Shooting for the Stars theme, and you only change the colors then that’s not a project. If you meet monthly but always at a different member’s house, that to is not a project.

Whew!!! this project stuff just got a little easier. Well here’s an even better part about project management once you set it up, you have all the tools in place to easily do a similar project. We’ll discuss planning in another topic but the plans you put in place for that first bake sale or first meeting can easily be adapted to help with the next event.

I know I have  focused on events for this example but there are many other things you do that is a projects, like the definition say a unique product service, or result. So here are a few more examples:

  • creating a new specialty pizza recipe for your restaurant (product)
  • revamping the constitution and bylaws for your organization (result)
  • developing the curriculum for a new class in your tutoring program (product)
  • expanding your business to now offer cat sitting(service)

So there you have it many things you have already been doing are projects, so read on and see how you can improve some of things you have already been doing.