How do you know if a piece of work is a project or just a piece of work? There are number of ways to identify a piece of work as a project, or as we would say, how to spot a Tiger!
Usual v Unusual:
You know what your everyday work looks like. Regular tasks. Regular processes you complete. Regular meetings. Regular activities. Stuff you do in your everyday usual work life. You might not do them all the time. You might just do them once a year, but they are part of you everyday work life. A project can be identified as anything outside your usual. A piece of work which you are asked to get involved in, or which you identify which is not part of your everyday work. This is a useful definition as it implies you’re going to need to set aside time for it and probably prioritise time above some of your everyday stuff.
If a piece of work is complex then it can be helpful to call it a project, because then you are more likely to devote more time to planning it.
Number of people involved:
If there are 2 or more people involved, chances are the work will become a project. Again this can be useful so that you plan it effectively.
Potential for growth:
Take a look at the work and if you think it might grow then it can be useful to call it a project. That way you take it more seriously in terms of its impact on your everyday work.
The work looks like it could have challenges in it; difficulties which need overcoming.
This is where one person’s work is dependant on another person in order to progress. Again a useful definition as it implies planning.
You might notice that every time we say it’s a project the implication is that we plan it more thoroughly. It’s not always the case that we do plan projects properly, but this is one of the behaviours we’re encouraging. That is, see a project = STOP & plan it!