Introduction to project
- Origin and Meaning of project
Projects are one of the several instruments to achieve particular objectives in a process of development. Thus, projects have to be discussed as an integral part of the national development strategy for they have to be evaluated in close reference to the overall development policy of a country. Projects have been described as "the cutting edge" of development, they embody the policy choices flowing from development objectives and acts as the vehicle or the medium of the described social changes.
As such then, projects are the means through which development targets are achieved and are considered to be a tangible benefit for the project beneficiaries. Without visible projects on the ground, policies, strategies, and plans for development are simply administrative.
The Term project came from Projection means looking into future. The term project in general means shoot forward, or to scheme, or plan something to be done. Actually Project means –one time job that has defined starting and ending dates, a clearly specified objective, or scope of work to be performed, a predefined budget, and usually a temporary organization which disappear once the project has been completed. In other words project refers to an investment activity where resources are used to create capital asset that produce benefits over a long period of time and has a beginning and an end with specific objectives.
According to dictionary project means a piece of work that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim. Projects may be Personal, Industrial, and National and may be of Business type. In most cases, it's easier to describe than to define a project. However, a project is referred to as:
"It is a proposed undertaking involving a complex set of economic activities in which scarce resources are committed in expectation of benefits that exceed the resources in order that investment decisions are wisely carried out in the area of development plan, formulation implementation." Or
"Project is a set of proposal for the investment of resources into clearly identified set of action that are expected to projected future benefit of fairly a specific kind, the whole series of action be the subject of individual plan, and examination before begin adopted and implemented within a single overall managerial and financial framework".
In a brief statement, a project is just a proposal to invest money in certain activities with the expectation of return in the future. The easiest way to define a project is to outline the common characteristics that it might be expected to have: Thus, the following are typical features of a project:
- A start and finish. The start may have been crystallized over a period of time and the end may by a slow phase out. This shows that every project has a beginning and certain definite end. It is not like other ordinary course of business activities which are having an indefinite term of existence – going – concern.
- A life cycle. This means that, there will be a beginning and an end, with a number of distinct phases in between.
- A budget. It is unthinkable to undertake any project without sufficient cash flows. During the planning phase, adequate budget allocation is mandatory for the smooth flow of all project related activities.
- Non – repetitive. All project activities are essentially unique. The project activities are rare and new. In a project, once a certain activity is completed it would not be repeated. Generally, projects may found to be similar but no two projects are exactly alike.
- Use of resources. In a project undertaking, resources are quite necessary for successful accomplishment of its activities. The resources i.e. material, human, financial may be coordinated from various sources.
- A Single Point of Responsibility. All Projects have a well defined responsibility. In general, the head or manager of the project ultimately takes the responsibility of the project. Therefore, in the project, responsibility should be specifically identifiable.
- Team Roles. A project is a team work activity of different professionals. In a project, team roles and relationships that are subject to change need to be developed, defined and established (team building)
In general, a project is a specific activity with specific starting point and specific ending point intended to accomplish a specific objectives and with a pre-determined input resources.
Examples of some projects:
- Developing a new product or service
- Building a bridge, road, railway, or other structure
- Writing a soft ware
- Installing a new manufacturing process
- Publishing a book
- Developing a new marketing plan
- Obtaining an MBA degree
- Planting a garden
- A wedding plan
- Constructing a house
- Establishing a plant or designing a car or new machinery etc;
1.2 Economic development and concept and content of Project
Development is of utmost significance for all countries. It is especially so for the underdeveloped economies which accounts for more than three fourth of the world's population. To grasp the process that involves initiations and sustenance of development of it is necessary as a first step that we understand as to what it implies and how to indicate the economic progress that it makes possible. In the broadest sense, development aims at an improvement in the quality of life. This involves progress in the economic sphere as also the non-economic fields.
Economic development encompasses growth i.e., rise in per capita income of the people and all that goes to improve the essential elements that make for a better quality of life such as progress in education, health and nutrition and a cleaner natural environment. Development planning is concerned with many decisions most of which are related to capital expenditure on projects and their financing.
There are three distinct stages through which development planning is carried out:
- National Planning
- Sectoral Planning
- Project Planning
1.2.1 National Planning
National planning refers to the drawing of a national plan indicating projection of the economy on a macroeconomic basis. It requires the formulation of overall economic and social objectives (called development strategy) identifying the constraints such as shortage of investment, foreign exchange or skilled labour, and maintaining consistent inter relation between the various sectors and regions of the economy. Marco economic planning is concerned with the rate of economic growth, establishing regional balance and priorities and with the formulation of investment policies and programs, which will achieve the target set.
The national economy is divided into sectors such as
- manufacturing industries
- service industries
- social service
1.2.2 Sectoral, (Sub-Sectoral) Planning
Once the national planning is done, planning will be developed on sub-sectoral basis. The analysis of each sector will provide an indication for investment, employment, export etc. Before embarking on an individual project, it is frequently necessary to possess detailed knowledge of the sector concerned (e.g., chemical, textile, engineering, iron and seet, these referred to as sub-sector with manufacturing sector) especially when the project is fairly large in relation to the sector. Such sectoral planning should provide area where new investment may be made, and as such, play an essential part in project identification. In addition, it provides an important framework in which to analyze new projects and to assess their ramifications.
1.2.3 Project Planning
Once a sectoral (sub-sectoral) plan has been drawn up, the way is clear for project planning. This consists of two states.
- A pre-feasibility study, which concentrates on the market identification and on the costing of a project to satisfy the market, and a rough financial plan and economic analysis.
- A detailed feasibility study, it will be undertaken when the investor are known, and the availability of finance will be discussed and will consists of a very detailed description and analysis of the project.
- Project and program
Policies are implemented through programs usually overall lengthy time scale of five to ten years. Programs have broadly expressed development objectives. While projects are the building blocks of programs and are usually of shorter duration. A project is a means by which national, regional local, etc plans are made operational. This means the plan has to be elaborated into "package of action".
The package of action can be divided into two broad categories. These are:
- Program: which is the first step in plan elaboration and
- Project: the second step in plan elaboration.
Program, which is a bigger package of action is composed of a number of projects aiming at attaining one or more related objectives of plan. Project on the other hand achieve goals which lead to the accomplishment of specific objectives within program.
The following are the basic difference between program and project.
- A program is broader in scope than a project.
- A program is a domain out of which project can be found.
For example, if we think of extension program under this program we could identify different projects like irrigation, crop production, Honey production etc.
- A program has general objective while projects have a specific objectives. For example, if the objective of the extension program is self food efficiency, the objective of the project could be increasing crop production, milk production, honey production etc which are more specification than being general.
- Project has a specific project area while program don't have a specific program area.
- Projects have specific beneficiary groups. For example, if one establishes a cattle raring project at Somalia region, that doesn't mean that every Somalia will be willing to buy your product rather there will be a specific client who will purchase your product like Yemen etc.
The difference and similarities between project and program can be summarized in the following table:
1.4 Types and classification of projects
Much of what project will comprise and consequently its management depends essentially on the category it belongs to. Projects can be categorized according to type of activity, location, time, ownership, size and need.
According to Type of Activity: Under this category, projects can be classified as industrial and non-industrial projects. Industrial projects are set up for the production of some goods. Non-Industrial projects comprise health care projects, educational projects, irrigation projects, soil conservation projects, highway projects etc.
According to Location: Location wise, projects can be categorized as national and international projects. National projects are those set up in the national boundaries of a country, while international projects are set up by the government or private sector across the globe.
According to Completion Time: Projects under this category can be divided into two types as normal and crash projects. In case of normal projects there is no time constraint. Crash projects are those which are to be completed within a stipulated time, even at the cost of ending up with a higher project cost.
According to Ownership: Projects under this category can be grouped into public, private and joint sector projects. Public sector projects are owned by the Government. In private sector projects ownership is in the hands of the project promoters and investors. Joint sector projects are those in which ownership is shared by the Government and private entrepreneurs.
According to Size: Based on size, there may be three categories of projects- small, medium and large. This depends on investment on plant and machinery requirements and the category as small, medium and large varied from country to country.
According to Need: Based on the need for the project, projects can be classified as new balancing, expansion, modernization, replacement, diversification, backward integration and forward integration projects.
1.5 Forms of Project Organization:
The traditional form of project organization is not suitable for project work for the following reasons.
- It has no means of integrating different departments at levels below the top management, and
- It does not facilitate effective communication, coordination and control, when several functional departments, with different professional backgrounds and orientations are involved in the project work under time and cost pressures, which often call for overlap, at least partial, of the development, design, procurement, construction, and commissioning work.
The type of Project organization is determined by the authority that is given to the persons responsible for the project, the project organization may take one of the following three forms;
1.5.1 Line and staff organization
- Divisional Organization
- Matrix Organization
Line and Staff organization:
In this form of organization, a person is appointed a with the primary responsibility of coordination the work of the people in the functional departments; such a person referred to commonly as the project coordinator, acts essentially in a staff position to facilitate the coordination of line management in functional departments. The project coordinator does not have authority and direct responsibility of the line management. He serves as a focal point for receiving project related information and seeks to promote the cause of the project by rendering advice, sharing information and providing assistance. He may gently coax line executives to strive for the fulfillment of project goals. Deprived to exert leadership and feel unsure of his role. His influence would depend on his professional competence, closeness to top management, and persuasive abilities. Clearly this is a week form of organization, which may be employed mostly for small projects. It is certainly not suitable for large projects.
Under this form of project organization, a separate division is set up to implement the project, headed by the Project Manager. This division has its complement of personnel over whom the project manager has full line authority. In effect, this form of organization implies the creation of a separate goal oriented decision of the company with its own functional departments. While the project manager still has the problem of coordinating the inputs of the organizations involved in the project, he has total formal control over the division heads.
- A very strong form of project organization.
- It facilitate the process of planning and control
- It brings better integration of effects and strengths the commitment of project related personal to the objective of the project.
- It considerably improves the perfect of fulfilling the time and budget targets.
- It may entail on inefficient use of resources of the firm.
- It may result in an unnecessary duplication of specialist in the company.
- It may be difficult to achieve higher degree of specialization.
The matrix form of organization, the third form of project organization, seeks to achieve the twin objectives of efficient use of resources and effective realization of project objectives, at the cost of greater organizational complexity of course.
In a matrix organization, the personnel working on the project have a responsibility to their functional superior as well to the project manager. This means that the authority is shared between the project manager and the functional managers.
The authority and influence of the project manager are across the traditional vertical line of command while the personnel maintain the departmental affiliation and are responsible to their functional superiors; they are responsible to the project manager as well.
- There is dual subordinations
- Responsibility and authority are not commensurate
- The hierarchical principle is ignored.
1.6 Project Control and management
Project control involves a regular comparison of performance against targets, a search for the causes of deviation, and a commitment to check adverse variances. It serves two functions.
- Regular monitoring of performance and
- (ii) it motivates project personnel to achieve project objectives.
- Reasons for ineffective control:
Effective control is critical for the realization of project objectives. Yet, control of projects in practice tends to be in effective. There are three reasons for poor control of projects.
(i) Characteristics of the project: Most of the projects are large, complex
(ii) People Problem: naturally most of the operational mangers, used to the study rhythm of normal operations and routine work. The lack of experience, training, competence and inclination to control projects.
(iii) Poor control and information system: One of the factors, which inhibit effective control, is the poor quality of control and information system. Some of the weakness observed in the control and the information system are;
a) Delay in reporting performance
b) Inappropriate level of details
c) Unreliable information.