A project consists, in a general sense, in the organization of actions over time for the pursuit of a predefined purpose, through the various design phases by one or more designers. Final purpose is the realization of a good or service whose development cycle is typically managed through project management techniques.



The project is characterized by the preventive identification of actions, times, resources, roles and expectations of results which are defined following a preliminary analysis regarding:

expected results (expected results / objective to be achieved)
characteristics of the context (opportunities and limits)
available roles and resources (professionalism, availability, financial resources, time, etc ...)

In applied sciences, it is a time-bound effort, with a start and finish date, aimed at creating specific products, services or outcomes that bring benefits or added value to the customer.

In a commissioned project with legal value, the criteria for execution, control and completion in terms of time, cost and quality are defined in a contract.

The term derives from the Latin proiectum, past participle of the verb proicere, literally translatable as throw forward; which also explains the etymological assonance of the Italian verbs to project and to design.

The term project is closely associated with that of project management which derives from the English term project management. One of the historical fathers of project management is Russel D. Archibald.

In the governance of the territory and the environment, in a general sense, the project is a preventive, implementation and management model of an intervention that is intended to be carried out.

Typical articulation of a project

Generally a project, understood as a complex of interdependent activities, includes:

specific objectives, reasonably achievable and possibly interconnected with other objectives or projects;
time constraints for its completion;
economic constraints for its development;
a set of human and instrumental resources assigned and adequate to the difficulties of the project;
an internal organization with a clear assignment of roles, division of tasks and a project governance structure (in larger projects a steering committee is usually created)
objects and / or services to be released (the so-called deliverables necessary to achieve the objectives) well defined and described in documents such as specifications and / or contracts;
articulations of the project into phases (eg: design, execution, testing, etc.) in which the interfaces, the external constraints (dependencies on events that cannot be controlled internally in the project and boundary conditions to be taken into account) and the responsibilities (who do what by when);
a schedule that defines:

    the start / end dates of each activity;
    the allocation of resources to the activities on which the project is based;
    the interdependencies between the project activities;
    exposure up to a sufficient (but not exaggerated) level of detail of the activities (the so-called tasks);
    the release dates of the main intermediate objects (or group of objects) (the so-called milestones);
    the date of completion of the project;
a set of tools to check the progress of the project with respect to the objectives, both in terms of time, cost and deliverables released (final accounting tools, Earned Value Analysis, etc.).

The most critical and important projects usually also include:

a risk plan (which also indicates the appropriate reduction / mitigation actions for the identified risks);
a quality plan (which defines the strategies and criteria to ensure compliance of the products / services released with the established requirements).

Success factors of a project

Ultimately, if the assigned objectives are sufficiently demanding and / or critical, to ensure the success of the project it is necessary to have adequate human resources in terms of quality and quantity, but also technical and financial, as well as clarity regarding the following aspects:

context and sector (e.g. construction, IT, etc.) to which the project refers
objectives (requirements and performance of the products and / or services that the project must deliver)
responsibility (understood as the distribution of tasks: who, what, by when)
time (start, duration)
cost (predetermined)
quality (understood as adherence to the requirements and performance required)

The methodologies and techniques for managing a project go under the name of project management, an item to which we refer for more details. Sometimes in certain areas of design (e.g. environmental, industrial and energy engineering) in the study and pre-construction phase we proceed first with the installation and commissioning of a pilot project or a reduced but still sufficient installation and functioning to evaluate other aspects such as cost-benefit analysis or environmental impact assessment.

Related items

Applied Sciences
Project planning
Architectural design
Road project
Research project
Educational project
Product (project management)
Project management
Project manager
Work progress status (SAL)
Project finance
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