Project Management

What Project Types Exist?

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Categories: Project Management


Earlier today I was on a call where we discussed the results of a research study.  I brought up the issue that it would be really interesting to parse that data by project type so as to determine whether there are different behaviours associated with each type.  Unfortunately the researchers hadn't asked about project type, but perhaps next time they could do so.  

This then led to the issue of what types of projects occur that they should ask about, and I then volunteered to put together a list.  My original thought was that surely there was a common taxonomy out there somewhere, but I couldn't find a solid one.  There are several opinions about the subject, as far as I could tell, but nothing that's generally accepted within the community.  

So I started putting something together based on the various articles and papers that I did find.  Here are my questions to you:

  1. Do you know of an accepted project type taxonomy that I missed that is at least as comprehensive as what I have below?
  2. What do you think of the list that I've developed?  Imagine for a minute that this list was presented to you as options in a survey question.  Can you identify the type of project that you're currently involved with?
  3. Would you want to be able to select more than one option to describe the primary project you're currently involved with, or is single selection sufficient? 

Potential project types:

  • Business implementation
  • Foundational (business improvement)
  • IT infrastructure improvement
  • Product development (IT)
  • Product development (non-IT)
  • Physical engineering/construction
  • Physical infrastructure improvement
  • Procurement
  • Regulatory/compliance
  • Research and Development (R&D)
  • Service development
  • Transformation/reengineering
  • Other

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter!

Posted on: September 10, 2020 01:41 PM | Permalink

Comments (12)

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Scott -

This was one of the first decisions which folks who would implement the PPM solution I used to implement would have to make and I can tell you that there is no single, standard taxonomy.

Good portfolio management practices would suggest that multiple taxonomies are used in conjunction to enable governance bodies to assess the balance of their portfolios across multiple dimensions.

Common ones I'd seen used included:

- Mandatory vs. discretionary
- Technology vs. non-technology
- Organization-aligned (e.g. finance, HR, Sales)
- Outcome-aligned (e.g. revenue, cost reduction, risk reduction)


Thanks for sharing, very interesting.

Kiron, great feedback. I did find one article that took a dimension-based approach that's similar to what you suggest. Although I liked that sort of strategy a lot it was too much detail for the purpose of this effort, although I could definitely see a more detailed study that did explore various dimensions.

Another valid dimension might be project vs. non-project.

Thanks for sharing this interesting piece

A quick follow-up. The following page of the Standard for Portfolio Management, 3rd edition provides some examples (I can't copy & paste them in as the PDF is locked :-) ):

p68 - Portfolio Component Categorization Techniques

Taxonomy. Imo/ime is not only one level of classification. We could think of more categories and for each category, we can classify the projects by type.
Category - duration. Years, months, weeks, days, hours.
Category - homogeneity. One domain is more relevant or we have a cross-industry mix.
Category - business area. Similar with the ones from your article.
Category - criticality. Small money, big money, life-critical.
Category - a new product or product change.
... and the list can continue.


Great list. I was able to identify the type of project I work in under Engineering / Construction (I would suggest removing the word Physical).

On another note, I was able to locate a Healthcare related Project under any of those project types, so do you believe it is beneficial to add one more type: Healthcare ?


Rami, I like the idea of removing physical. Regarding Healthcare, should it be "Healthcare (non-IT, non-Construction)"? With this survey there will also be a question around industry, with healthcare being an option.

Valentin, good point similar to what Kiron indicated. I think there would be value in a detailed survey at some point that goes into multiple categories.

Kiron, there's a 4th edition now for Portfolio Management. I will look into the new version of that list and report back here later today.


I think if you put Healthcare with all the non’s after it then you will have to add non-research too so I suggest you put:

Healthcare Advancement

@Kiron, I found the page in the 3rd Edition as you suggested, but couldn't find it in the fourth. I'm going to update the posting now based on that.

@Rami, I'm still thinking about healthcare as a potential project type. I'm not really sure about that as it opens the door to a long list of domain-specific project types that may just be better covered by Other.


I think we are on the same page in terms of it being a project type. All the other projects types you’ve mentioned are very general.

Will be interested to see the final list you end up with.


Product developmenent (mixed: IT non IT)

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