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When A Task Becomes A Project

By John Kellett

Project Management is essential for complex tasks. So how do you know when it becomes a Project? It's not always easy to decide.

A task that has only minor risks and could be completed by one person or team would probably remain as a task. A project usually consists of more complex tasks that may involve many people or teams, requires planning and most importantly contains risks that could have an impact on the business.

Some companies I have worked for have decided whether it's a project or not on monetary value alone. For example if it was £125,000 then a Project manager was not needed, if it was over £250,000 then it was! This is not always a good idea.

A straightforward order of one piece of standard equipment of £250,000 would need little or no management other than to ensure it was available and delivered to the right location.

On the other hand an order of £125,000 for several devices to be installed at different locations, linking up to each other and external sources and all working by a certain date would require a great deal of planning and liaising with many different teams and suppliers so this should be ran as a project. In my opinion a task becomes a Project when some or all of the following criteria are met:

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Impact on the business - This is the most important and time and cost should be considered. Also the question should be asked before it begins "What are the advantages and disadvantages of implementing this?"

Several teams (Internal and External need to be involved) - If this is the case then someone will certainly need to arrange the meetings, organize planning and ensure each team knows what the other is doing at any given time.

Something Different - If this is something that is new to the staff or company then it may be worth running as a project and documenting everything throughly.

Cost - Despite what I've said above, if the cost is alot then generally someone needs to watch over this. If it is of low risk and cost then its an ideal opportunity to give someone of less experience a chance to show how they would manage it as a project.

If anyone else has worked places where they have a set criteria for deciding whether it's a project or not then i'd like to know about it, why not send me an email?


About the Author:
John Kellett is a UK based Citrix and Windows consultant.

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