Project Definition Refresher Card (Beta)

This refresher is intended to be used in conjunction with Advanced Strategies' Project Definition Course; It is not intended to be a stand-alone document. For more information check the Project Definition Center.


Terms and Definitions

Project Definition is an informal contract among the project stakeholders which defines the purpose and boundaries of a given effort and determines the parameters of a meaningful and effective solution.

Aspects of a Project Each project definition element listed can apply to three distinct aspects of a project: Product - "the delivered solution", Process - "the approach followed", and Project Vehilce - "the marshalling of resources". In practice, Process and Project Vehicle are typically combined into a single Other aspect. Product represents the elements of the solution itself while Other addresses the people and the conduct of the project.


The purposes or reasons that the effort is undertaken; the results that are expected from the effort.
Expected End Results: The anticipated final impacts or benefits the effort is expected to have.
Effort Contributions: The portion of the Expected End Result that falls within the province and responsibility of the project. The remaining effort would, by implication, be the responsibility of someone other than the project team. The two efforts together would be expected to yield the expected end results.



The set of beliefs, trade-offs, and judgment-guidelines that govern the results and their obtainment.
Value Ranking: A list of possible values in relative order of desirability to the project. These usually cross the three aspects of the project.
Value List: A series of statements expressing the various values of the effort.


Anyone who can impact or may be impacted by the effort.
Direct: Someone directly impacting or impacted by the effort.
Indirect: Someone impacting or impacted by the effort by virtue of his/her connection to a direct stakeholder.


A statement of the domain of the solution; what portion of the world (e.g. business) can be examied and potentially included in the development of the solution.
Breadth (Scope): The portion of the business processes, activities, functions and/or organizational units covered by the effort.
Perspectives: The individuals or classes of individuals whose points of view should be reflected in the solution. Normally these would be a subset of the Stakeholders.
Depth (Level of Detail): How much detail of the business must be explored to produce the appropriate deliverables.
Universality: How generic a solution is required. Can be expressed in terms of Problem Set, Deployment, and Time Frames.
Scope of Integration: What other business initiatives or systems this effort should investigate interfacing with, being compatible with, or coordinating with.


Other parameters that should be commonly established, considered, and monitored in the conduct of the project and the development of its deliverables. This is the context in which the solution can be sought and delivered to be considered successful.
Latitudes: The expressly stated limitation or expressly granted leeway on both the solution and the conducting of the effort.
  • Constraints: Limitations on the solution and the conducting of the effort.
  • Freedoms: Indicates expressly-granted leeways on the solution and the conducting of the effort.
  • Directions: Business, technical, and/or other directions toward which the organization is moving.
Understandings: A collection of informal, mutually agreed-upon, and accepted statements that further clarify the effort or what is meant by the solution. Normally, only those items which are significant in their impact are included. (See the detailed list of sub-items.)
  • Systemic Definitions: The agreed-on meaning of terms so important that a difference of opinion on what they mean could change the interpretation of the effort or a meaningful solution.
  • Systemic Facts: These are accepted truths that are so important to understanding the effort or its solution that not knowing them would lead to confusion oor false results. It is especially important to indicate any that are not widely known and accepted.
  • Assumptions: Items which cannot be proven or demonstrated to be true at this time (or maybe ever) but are accepted as true, for the purpose of the project, until confirmed or disproved.
  • Obstacles: Barriers to success which all have agreed to accept and to share responsibility for working around or removing. It is unlike a constraint in that it is not accepted that we must live with it.
Uncertainties: Significant circumstances or possible events whose probability of occurrence is such that contingencies or other responses should be planned.
  • Risks: Unfavorable potential occurrences or circumstances, i.e., things that could go wrong.
  • Opportunities: Favorable potential occurrences or circumstances, i.e., things that could go better than expected.
Issues: Something important that is unknown or undetermined now, but is expected to be known or determined later.


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