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Can Cpi Be Applied To Projects That Are Temporary And Unique?

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

EM Skills and Real-World Concepts, Pt. 1

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.282.1 - 9.282.7

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Paper Authors

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Donald Merino

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2642

Can Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) be Applied to Projects that are Temporary and Unique?

Donald N. Merino, Ph.D., P.E.

Stevens Institute of Technology


Projects are defined as temporary and unique by the Project Management Institute Body of Knowledge (PMI BoK). Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) assumes incremental improvements over time. If a project is temporary and unique, how can we incrementally apply CPI over time? How do we develop lessons learned from a temporary project and how and when do we apply them?

Projects are further defined by the PMI BoK to include process groups and individual processes. The concepts of Total Quality Management (TQM) and CPI are related to management processes as evidenced by the fact that TQM in some companies is called Process Management. A conceptual framework is proposed that applies CPI to individual Project Management (PM) processes. This model shows that repeatable project management processes can be continuously improved.

The author applied these concepts to the projects in a large consumer based Information Technology (IT) group. The result was a significant increase in projects meeting their completion time, budget and performance objectives.

I. Projects Defined

PMI BoK defines projects as temporary, unique and progressively elaborated (see Table 1).

These definitions result in a sequential set of activities that have a beginning and an end. As such, when a project is completed, it is finished and is not repeated or duplicated.

Classic example of a temporary, unique and progressively elaborated project is building a home or constructing a factory or production unit. These projects have a beginning, an end with specific steps. Also most of these are longer term projects which work against any type of improvement.

PMI BoK emphasizes that different time frames, owners, etc. make projects unique and that “the presence of repetitive elements does not change the fundamental uniqueness of a project’s work” (PMI BoK [section 1.2.1]). Examples given to prove this point include repetitive tasks within a project, such as multiple prototypes, multiple geographic areas, etc. These do not make the whole project repetitive, only some subtasks.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Merino, D. (2004, June), Can Cpi Be Applied To Projects That Are Temporary And Unique? Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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