For the urban low-income housing buildings called projects, see Public housing. For other uses, see Wikipedia Projects. For :Wikipedia:WikiProject, see Project (disambiguation).

In contemporary business and science, a project is an individual or collaborative enterprise, possibly involving research or design, that is carefully planned, usually by the project assigned team, to achieve a particular aim.[1]

One can also define a project as a set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations.[2]

One can view projects as temporary (rather than permanent) social systems or as work systems that are constituted by teams within or across organizations to accomplish particular tasks under time constraints.[3] An ongoing project is usually called (or evolves into) a program.


The word project comes from the Latin word projectum from the Latin verb proicere, "before an action" which in turn comes from pro-, which denotes precedence, something that comes before something else in time (paralleling the Greek πρό) and iacere, "to do". The word "project" thus actually originally meant "before an action".

When the English language initially adopted the word, it referred to a plan of something, not to the act of actually carrying this plan out. Something performed in accordance with a project became known as an "object". Every project has certain phases of development.

Specific uses

School and university

At school, educational institute and university, a project is a research assignment given to a student which generally requires a larger amount of effort and more independent work than is involved in a normal essay assignment. It requires students to undertake their own fact-finding and analysis, either from library/internet research or from gathering data empirically. The written report that comes from the project is usually in the form of an dissertation, which will contain sections on the project's inception, analysis, findings and conclusions...[4]

Project management

In project management a project consists of a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.[5] Another definition is a management environment that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to a specified business case.

Project objectives define target status at the end of the project, reaching of which is considered necessary for the achievement of planned benefits. They can be formulated as SMART criteria:[6] Specific, Measurable (or at least evaluable) achievement, Achievable (recently Agreed to or Acceptable are used regularly as well), Realistic (given the current state of organizational resources) and Time terminated (bounded). The evaluation (measurement) occurs at the project closure. However a continuous guard on the project progress should be kept by monitoring and evaluating. It is also worth noting that SMART is best applied for incremental type innovation projects. For radical type projects it does not apply as well. Goals for such projects tend to be broad, qualitative, stretch/unrealistic and success will be driven.

Computer software

In computer software a project can consist of programs, configuration definitions and related data. For example, in Microsoft Visual Studio a "solution" consists of projects and other definitions.

Notable examples

See also

Look up project in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.


  1. Compare: "definition of project in English from the Oxford dictionary". English. Oxford Dictionaries. 2016. Retrieved 2016-09-06. Definition of project in English: [...] An individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim [...]
  2. "What is a project? definition and meaning". Retrieved 2016-04-19.
  3. Compare: Manning, Stephan (2008). "Embedding projects in multiple contexts – a structuration perspective". International Journal of Project Management. 26: 35. Retrieved 2016-09-06. Two theoretical propositions have been made: First, projects as temporary systems are characterized by certain structural properties, in particular task specifications, time constraints and team relations, that guide project activities.
  4. Thomas, G: How to do your research project. Sage Publications Inc, 2009....
  5. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), Third Edition, Project Management Institute.
  6. Carr, David, Make Sure Your Project Goals are SMART, PM Hut. Accessed 18. Oct 2009.
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