A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. Temporary means that the project has an end date. Unique means that the project's end result is different than the results of other functions of the organization.
It can also comprise an ambitious plan to define and constrain a future by limiting it to set goals and parameters. The planning, execution and monitoring of major projects sometimes involves setting up a special temporary organization, consisting of a project team and one or more work teams. A project usually needs resources.
The word project comes from the Latin word projectum from projicere, "to throw something forwards" which in turn comes from pro-, which denotes something that precedes the action of the next part of the word in time (paralleling the Greek πρό) and jacere, "to throw". The word "project" thus actually originally meant "something that comes before anything else is done". When the word was initially adopted, it referred to a plan of something, not to the act of actually carrying this plan out. Something performed in accordance with a project was called an object. This use of "project" changed in the 1950s when several techniques for project management were introduced: with this advent the word slightly changed meaning to cover both projects and objects. However in certain projects there may still exist so called objects and object leaders, reflecting the older use of the words.
Particularly liked by Western business, projects can subdivide into sub-projects and spawn an industrial sub-culture of project planning and project management, all oblivious to more holistic developments.
Some feel this habit of short-termism has permeated economic planning and personal growth to the detriment of cyclical and multi-cultural world views. Alternatives to project-centric planning include trend-oriented goal-setting and directional planning.
However, this view is contentious, and indeed industrial program management and portfolio management represent ways of administering a range of projects to fulfil an over-arching strategy.
Notable projects include:
- Manhattan Project: Developed the first nuclear weapon
- Polaris missile project: an ICBM control system