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Concept or idea


Many people are aware of some of the elements that projects contain.
At the same time, if you asked most people what constitutes a project certain common themes would arise.

PRINCE2® 2005 defines particular stages for a project and refers to these as ‘processes’ within an overall framework of ‘components’.
PRINCE2 2009 refers to the use of ‘themes’.
PRINCE2 does not recognise a ‘feasibility’ stage as part of the main project, as the final product is ill defined.
It thus treats any feasibility stage as a separate project.

Projects can be broken down into distinct parts, providing milestones for better project control.

However, some refer to these parts differently and you may come across the following named phases of a project.

  • Concept or idea
  • Feasibility study
  • Initiation
  • Specification
  • Design
  • Build
  • Installation / implementation
  • Operation
  • Review

Sometimes the names of these vary but are essentially the same.
Not all projects contain every section.

Projects in specifics industries, for example, construction have developed well tested phases over many years of experience.

Some are more applicable to specific products, for example, boat building, where the final product will be completed and launched (installation) and then undergo operational testing.

Other projects may not have an easily definable build / installation phase e.g. producing a marketing report.
Although it could be argued that the preparation of the report (build) and circulation for comment (installation), prior to finalising, amount to the same thing.

Identifying a need that must be met

Many projects start with some sort of ‘concept’ or ‘idea’.
The only reason for the existence of a project is to satisfy a need.

There are two basic types:

  • A person decides he or she has a fantastic idea that the world needs.

He or she may not have a customer in mind and may need a lot of marketing input but the person may need to organise a project to achieve his or her aims.

  • On the other hand, the customer may already exist, want a particular product or service and will hope to achieve his desires via a well managed project.

Often vague

However, at this early stage the exact requirements are often vague.
To produce the desired product may require a long project, with high expenditure with no guarantee of success.
So, before the major part of a project can go ahead it is wise to gain some measure of assurance that the project has some chance of success.

May require a ‘feasibility’ study to define the product

It would be very unwise to initiate a project without understanding some level of the risk involved.
Some background research may be involved leading to a feasibility study.

The feasibility study is designed to show that the idea may have some merit and is not a complete non starter.
There should be some mechanism for approval of the concept.
It should be approved on the basis of a proposed suitable feasibility study.

The idea that all concepts will be proven good or bad by some sort of feasibility study is completely impractical. In other words, most concept proposals may not see the light of day as the proposed feasibility study may prove impractical and worthless.

Pre-project activity

This area is generally considered ‘pre-project’ as for the PRINCE2 [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’] model.

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