Anything we do is a kind of project. Indeed, even a simple thing as shopping is a project because we do it to solve a problem and to make changes in some parameters. All projects have similar traits. Let’s examine engineering projects. Even though we have already discussed the aspects related to projects and tasks in our blog Project’s tasks management with PRIZ Innovation Platform, we decided to raise the question of the project and tasks again because it is not trivial at all, especially when we talk about innovation projects.
Types of projects
In general, one can think of infinite types of projects; however, for the matter of this article, we want to define only two higher-level groups. The first is a traditional project that is carefully designed and planned. Typically, this type of project does not have, so-called, “blind points”. In the traditional project, everything is known and clearly defined. We are not claiming that it is easy, but it is well described in details. Step-by-step execution generally ensures predictable progress and eventually successful completion of the project.
Here are some examples of traditional engineering projects:
Implementation of product/process/equipment
Documented troubleshooting of production process/equipment as a response to repeated excursion
Upgrade of production equipment
Production equipment technical service
Training of technical personnel
The second type is an innovation project. Similar to a traditional project, an innovation project has a start and expected target (or success criteria), and it consists of steps that we need to complete to achieve that target. However, the steps, in this case, are not very well designed since most things are very vague compared to the traditional project.
Some typical examples of innovation projects:
New product or process development
Production process improvement
Production process cost reduction
Troubleshooting of production process/equipment as a response to unknown excursion
New customers research
As we can see, both types of projects have similarities and differences.
Clearly, in both types of projects, we are completing tasks to achieve the goal. The tasks are stairs guiding the project from the beginning up to the end. Here we want to highlight that any outcome of the project is a success.
The difference, though, is in the contents of tasks.
In traditional engineering projects, tasks contain very clear requirements such as “change a filter”, “replace a chamber”, “adjust nozzles”, “validate process parameters” and so on.
On the other hand, in an innovation project, the tasks are much less prescriptive and often uncertain for the way of execution. These tasks require to think, innovate and to generate new ideas and solutions. Innovation project tasks are many times completed with the help of creative thinking tools. Examples of innovation project tasks can be: analyze and search for the root cause of a failure, find the best way for a process or equipment troubleshooting, analyze customer needs, make a decision and so on.
Projects in PRIZ Innovation Platform
PRIZ Innovation Platform is tailored for Innovation project management.
Note: Of course, the platform will also support traditional projects. We can use the task manager for tracking, progress, and documentation.
After we create a project, the PRIZ platform offers a project plan wizard that helps us to define the types of actions we’ll need to take to complete the project including reference to creative thinking tools. All selected options will appear in the project as tasks.
Below, is a screenshot of the project wizard:
To allow the platform to calculate a progress of the project, we have to set the due dates of tasks.
As shown in the screenshot, problem statement definition and success criteria are highly recommended tasks and required for some creative thinking tools. It is a part of the creative thinking process. We have already described this topic in one of our previous blogs: How to define a problem statement?