The PMI definition of a project says that it is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service” but it doesn’t say why we need to create that product or service. This definition is so often quoted and it makes the impression that the question “Why?” is not so important. Well, I believe it is.
Many people explain that the answer to the question “Why do we do this project?” is called a project’s goal and it is very important for the project manager to stick to it and never deviate. While I agree completely that everything we do in our professional life should be done for a reason and in project management it means that we should know why we are doing that project and never forget it, I disagree with the term “project goal” because it is misleading.
There is no project goal because only living creatures have goals. A stone doesn’t have a goal so doesn’t a project. There are two parties involved in a project usually – the customer and the implementor (the project team). They have goals and their interest is written down in some form of contract.
The customer’s goal is usually a business goal – to solve some business problem, to increase the income, to decrease the expenses, to maximize profit, or to improve the company image. They believe that this goal can be achieved by creating the product or the service as a result of that project. Many people say that the project goal is the customer’s goal. But there are some questions here:
- What if the customer assumes wrongly that the project will achieve their goal? What if you know that what the customer requests are plain stupid? (In the case of software it is usually because they give direct instructions how the product should look like without having any idea how a to develop software) What should you do if you know that in the end they are going to realize that they have spent their money for nothing?
- What is the implementor’s goal? Is it the same as the customer’s? Isn’t it just to take the customer’s money? At least that is what we do – make software for money. Why should we care about the customer’s goals?
What do you think? I am going to share my opinion on these questions too in the future posts.
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