from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A project is a targeted , one-off undertaking that consists of a set of coordinated, controlled activities and that can be carried out, taking into account specifications such as time , resources (e.g. financing or costs , production and working conditions , personnel and operating resources ) and quality to achieve a goal .

Project is derived from the Latin proiectum , neuter to proiectus 'thrown forward', past participle from proicere 'forward throw ' (see projectile ). In the case of projects, 'forward' means a time dimension (see also scheduling ). The German word came into use in the late 17th century to mean “ building project ”.

In order to carry out projects, project teams are usually formed with control tasks. In order to make their project management efficient, consulting firms and universities offer special courses and tools from software manufacturers.

Many project management teachings recommend that the goals or objectives of a project are formulated in advance according to the SMART rules (SMART = specific, measurable, accepted, realistic, scheduled). However , this only applies to a limited extent to research projects .

The project goal determines the strategic approach. The necessary processes / activities and the helpful basic structure that determine how resources are to be used are based on this.


From the perspective of work studies , which examines human work in organizations , the term "project" is defined similarly in various sources:

“Project that is essentially characterized by the uniqueness but also the constants of the conditions in their entirety, such as B. Target, time, financial, personnel and other limitations; Demarcation from other projects; project-specific organization. "

"A project is a time-limited company undertaken to create a one-off product, service, or result."

- Project Management Body of Knowledge of the American Project Management Institute

"A project is an organization created for a limited period of time that has been set up with the purpose of delivering one or more products in accordance with an agreed business case."

- OGC (Office of Government Commerce): Managing successful projects with PRINCE2 TM First edition 2009 of the German translation of the fifth English edition 2009

"A time- and cost-limited project to realize a set of defined results in accordance with agreed quality standards and requirements (fulfillment of the project goals) ..."

- IPMA Competence Baseline of the International Project Management Association (IPMA)

"Objectively and temporally limited task that is approached in an interdisciplinary manner."

- Blazek, 1991

A task can and should generally be viewed as a project if the problem to be solved appears to be relatively complex, the solution is initially unknown, a goal and a time frame are available and / or cross-departmental / interdisciplinary cooperation is required.

For example, the complexity of the problem is that:

  • there are a number of possible solutions, the success of which is unknown at the beginning of the project,
  • the target contains contradicting sub-goals when analyzed more closely ( target conflicts ),
  • the organizations or bodies involved or working together obey different factual logics ,
  • There are many interactions between the individual measures to achieve the goals .

Most of the time, all of these factors work together.

The entirety of the activities associated with the successful completion of a project lead to a control loop for controlling projects. It is important to have reliable start and end dates for planning the project and commitments for the required resources as part of a project plan . In the context of large investment and construction projects, engineering and project companies use special project account frames and project-oriented project account plans for the performance-based structuring of the project plans and for the proper recording and billing of planning and construction services.

As a rule, a project - in contrast to regular, always similarly implemented, largely identical projects - usually carries a higher risk of failure and is carried out in a special and limited form of organization, the so-called project organization , within which the goal is worked towards .

Typical projects are product development , (re) organization, IT , renovation or construction projects .

Organizations that regularly carry out similar projects should strive to develop them into products . This will rarely be possible without restrictions. However, a standardization of the procedure, which allows the learning effect from previous projects to flow back into new projects, is an advantage compared to a constant "reinvention of the wheel". This standardization is usually expressed in defined processes in which new projects are approached, as well as in existing templates for documentation, etc., which may be adapted to project-specific requirements, but already contain the points that - from experience - should not be forgotten .

Project in didactics

In addition to projects in the economic sector, there are projects in the educational sector with a different definition and task. These were developed by John Dewey , William Heard Kilpatrick and others at the beginning of the twentieth century . a. Developed as an alternative to head-based frontal teaching . These are teaching and learning forms with which certain teaching and educational goals are to be achieved. As didactic concepts they are understood and used on the one hand only as a method (Frey), on the other hand (more complex) as a socially integrative form of teaching (Warwitz / Rudolf, Bastian et al.) In which the impulses of the learning processes do not come from the teacher alone, but rather from the entire teaching and learning community. When understood as a complex form of teaching, in addition to the learning paths and the organization of the teaching (= methods), the contents, goals, questions of justification and learning success controls of the learning processes are negotiated with each other and jointly responsible. If the more demanding form of project teaching is defined by certain hard criteria, then project-oriented teaching has the function of working towards it methodically and motivationally. Certain subjects are assumed that open up to interdisciplinary cooperation, such as “project-oriented physics, German or sports lessons”. For the sake of simplicity, both forms of teaching are sometimes referred to as “project work”.

Colloquial meaning

The term project is also used to mean that it is not compliant in the sense of temporal limitation, but in terms of the thematic / organizational delimitation from the "normal case", i.e. with the meaning that it is "something special" :

  • Describe "alternative lifestyles, charities or non-profit organizations, etc." For example: "Housing project" or "Unemployed project". The so-called project financing from the public sector, which can often be found in these areas, for limited projects that have to be applied for again and again, probably favored this naming convention (e.g. for so-called permanent projects of social institutions).
  • to name an ongoing process of development.
  • to denote something new in the field of art. Many young music groups (e.g. The Alan Parsons Project ) refer to themselves as a “project” (because of a higher attention effect and with the connotation of dropping this name if one considers oneself established).

Language dictionaries (e.g. Duden) define projects in this more general sense than planning , company , draft or plan .

In psychosocial care and social work, (new) offers are also often referred to as projects, even if they are designed from the outset to be permanent or recurring, regardless of their funding.

Project types

Projects can be classified / differentiated according to the following classification criteria (examples). The individual peculiarities in these project types led to the development of special procedures and processing techniques in the project organization .

Content / branch / branch

  • Construction projects / investment projects
  • IT projects / software development projects
  • Product development projects / innovation projects
  • Research and development projects
  • Learning projects / didactic projects
  • Organizational (development) projects
  • Logistics projects
  • Quality projects / methods (introductory) projects
  • Marketing projects
  • Cultural projects
    • Music projects
    • Productions (acting projects)
    • Exhibitions (art projects)


  • Preliminary projects / planning projects
  • New development or maintenance projects
  • Migration projects (replacement of old systems)

Participation or initiation

  • internal projects
    • departmental projects
    • cross-departmental projects
  • external projects
    • Customer projects
    • cross-company projects


  • Small projects
  • Projects
  • Large projects / programs

Repetition level

  • Pioneering projects
  • Routine projects

Roles in projects

Depending on the project situation (e.g. the size of a project), certain roles can be occupied in " personal union", employees can also be active in several projects at the same time.


  • Wassilios E. Fthenakis : Commentary on the project approach , in: WE Fthenakis / MR Textor: Pedagogical approaches in kindergarten. Beltz Verlag, Weinheim 2000
  • Christian Reder (ed.): Reader projects. Anticipation, outbursts into the distance (conversations / texts on project work with / by Alexander Kluge, Peter Sellars, Zaha Hadid, Anselm Kiefer, Wolf D. Prix / Coop Himmelb (l) au, Brigitte Kowanz, Fons Hickmann, Christoph Schlingensief, Manfred Faßler , Bernhard Kleber, Elfie Semotan, Dirk Baecker et al.), Edition Transfer at Springer Vienna – New York 2006, ISBN 3-211-28587-3 .
  • Christian Reder (Ed.): Daniel Defoe. An essay on projects. London 1697, Transfer Edition by Springer Vienna – New York 2006, ISBN 3-211-29564-X .
  • Wytrzens, HK: Project Management - The Successful Entry. 3rd expanded edition. Facultas Verlags- und BuchhandelsAG., Vienna 2013, ISBN 978-3-7089-1019-2 .
  • Katrin Zimmermann-Kogel: Project-oriented and open work. in: Zimmermann-Kogel, Norbert Kühne : practical book social pedagogy . Volume 4, Bildungsverlag EINS , Troisdorf 2006, ISBN 3-427-75410-3 , pp. 35-67.

Web links

Wiktionary: Project  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • Projekt Magazin - project management magazine with a large knowledge base and extensive project management glossary (German / English)

Individual evidence

  1. "magic triangle in project management" (time, costs, scope), according to Thor Möller, Florian Dörrenberg, project management , Oldenbourg Verlag, 2003, p. 22. EN ISO 9000: 2005 - Quality management systems - Basics and terms Section 3.4.3.
  2. Etymological dictionary (after Pfeifer), ; in Italian, French and English use since the 15th century. .
  3. ^ Ilonka Kunow: project management . STS-Verl, Planegg 1998, ISBN 3-86027-190-3 .
  4. ^ Karl Frey: The project method. Weinheim 1982.
  5. ^ Siegbert Warwitz, Anita Rudolf: Project teaching. Didactic principles and models. Verlag Hofmann, Schorndorf 1977, ISBN 3-7780-9161-1 .
  6. Johannes Bastian, Herbert Gudjons, Jochen Schnack, Martin Speth (eds.): Theory of project teaching. Bergmann + Helbig, Hamburg 1997, ISBN 3-925836-31-4 .
  7. Susanna Endler, Peter Kühren, Bernd Wittmann: Project work. Learn project skills in an action-oriented way. A handbook for students. Verlag Europa-Lehrmittel, Haan 2010, ISBN 978-3-8085-8284-8 .