The first task of my MSc was to look up ten examples of projects. My interests generally hinge around education, technology and my locality so it was unsurprising that the examples I chose hinged around those.
- OpenBiz. Funded by JISC, this project aims to trial online interactions as a method for Scottish Universities to effectively engage with the local community.
- Kindura. Another JISC funded project exploring the use of hybrid cloud technology for providing repository-focused services to researchers across its partner institutions.
- Open Badges. A Mozilla funded project, in association with the MacArthur Foundation, that aims to provide a method for recognising learning that occurs outside of the classroom.
- Purpos/ed. A project that I’m involved with, alongside my colleague Doug Belshaw, exploring and promoting debate around the real purpose(s) of education.
- Renewable Energy in Newcastle. Prof. Paul Younger from Newcastle University is leading a team in the search for renewable energy deep under the surface of Newcastle City Centre.
- Heart of the city. Regeneration of Durham Marketplace. The less said about this the better, a complete waste of £5.2m in my opinion. Shocking!
- Bloodhound project. This project is setting out to break the land speed record whilst encouraging budding STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students.
- Opening Minds. An RSA funded project, Opening Minds ‘sets out to promote innovative and integrated ways of thinking about education and the curriculum’.
- REF 2014 impact pilot exercise. In 2014 HEFCE will be changing the way it assesses the quality of research across UK Higher Education Institutions. This project set out to explore the practicalities of this change and improve the process.
- Diaspora. Quite an ambitious project this one in that it sets out to change the face of social networking. It’s certainly caught my attention and I’m hoping it can deliver.
Anyway, this led onto defining what a project is, which got me thinking.
A project is a temporary organization that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed Business Case. (OGC, 2009)
I’m most familiar with the definition provided by the OGC (see above) however I do like the way JISC infoNet focus more on the “typical” characteristics of projects i.e. instruments of change, unique, non-routine, etc. When I was looking at the example projects above I often found myself asking the question, ‘is this really a project?’. I was unsure what we really mean by ‘temporary’ or ‘business case’.
For example, when describing project life cycles, Lock (2007, p.10) talks about projects that last several decades. That, to me doesn’t sound very temporary, but then if it has a clear end I suppose it kind of makes sense. Oxford Dictionaries (2011) does highlight ‘temporary’ as ‘not permanent’ I suppose.
I would say a Project is an enterprise which has a finite start and finish point. (Johansen, 3.2)
I can foresee Open Badges being something that runs and runs but then it still might end, one day. Does that still fit the criteria? Do you have to look at it through the eyes of the sponsor i.e. Mozilla? Is the project end seen as the date it becomes self-sustaining? It’s sometimes difficult to tell without seeing some form of project documentation. I guess we have to trust their description to some extent.
Johansen, E. (2011) ‘Introduction to Project Management & Project Management History’. BE1170 Project, Programme & Portfolio Management [Online]. Available at: http://elp.northumbria.ac.uk (Accessed: 23 September 2011).
Lock, D. (2007) Project Management. Ninth Edition. Amazon [Online]. Available at:http://www.amazon.co.uk (Accessed: 23 September 2011).
OGC (2009) Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2. 2009 Edn. Norwich: TSO.
Oxford University Press (2011) Oxford Dictionaries. Available at: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/temporary (Accessed: 23 September 2011).