Tuesday 7 December 2021

Process management vs. project management



Professionally engaged in the optimization and regulation of the activities of various organizations, we regularly faced a situation where projects smoothly flow into process activities, and vice versa. And in such cases, a fair question arises: How then to manage activities, if business processes and projects are usually managed and described using various techniques?

First of all, let's understand what business processes and projects are.

A business process is a regularly repeated sequence of operations that consumes resources and creates a certain result that is valuable to the consumer.

A project is a time-limited activity, as a result of which the final unique result is created.

ParameterProcess managementProject management
RegulationsBusiness Process Regulations and GuidelinesCharter and Project Plan
Execution monitoringProcess resultTime, budget, resources
Who controlsLine ManagerProject Manager
Methodological basisProcess Approach to Management, TQM, ISO-9000Project management standards: PMI PMBoK, PRINCE2, IPMA

Thus, the differences between a business process and a project are essentially two: 


The uniqueness/repeatability of the activity and the uniqueness/repeatability of the result. For example, the company forms the balance sheet regularly once a quarter (this is a business process), and the introduction of a new corporate system occurs once (this is a project).

But it's not that simple. Suppose that some IT company is engaged in the design of data processing centers (DPC). 


Of course, one project documentation will differ from another, because depending on the technical task, different data centers will have different configuration and capacity, different architectures, etc.


However, from the point of view of performing data center design activities, as well as managing such activities, this typical project is rather a business process, because the general sequence of actions for the development of project documentation of the data center will be absolutely typical.

Similarly, the organization of competitive bidding for the right to provide services for the repair and operation of office space for a company will be a project if the company has not previously had any experience in conducting tenders. 


Moreover, even if the company is mainly engaged in project activities, and these projects are difficult to attribute to the typical ones, then in this case the general sequence of actions is sufficiently standard:

  • initiation of the project;
  • project planning;
  • project execution;
  • monitoring and management;
  • completion of the project.

At the same time, it is the execution of the project that is unique, and all other phases, if not the same, can be reduced to two or three stable options.

Based on the above written, you can come to an important conclusion, a project is not always a project, and a business process is not always a business process. But why do you need to understand and take this into account in real work? 


The fact is that business processes and projects are managed in different ways. The following table summarizes the main differences in approaches to managing business processes and projects.


As we can see, the differences in the management of business processes and projects are quite significant, they can not be ignored in practical work.


Therefore, when carrying out the main activities of the company, it is very important to determine what type it belongs to - to the project or process, since a typical project is more of a business process, and a new business process rather refers to project activities. 


If the type of activity is determined correctly, then the company will be able to avoid unnecessary losses in time and resources for managing its business.

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