Do you know what process management is? What about project management? Can you define them both in different words? If you’re like most people, the last question can be challenging.
These are two very distinct management solutions but a lot of people lump them together without understanding their differences. This can be confusing since choosing between the two is an important part of reaching the goals of a business or organization in the most streamlined way.
Even those who know the difference between process and project management often have other questions. Is one method better? What do the two types of management consist of? Which one is right for my specific needs?
The reality is that many advocates for both process management and project management exist. This shouldn’t come as any sort of huge surprise since businesses have placed a larger emphasis on both types of management in recent years. It also doesn’t mean that proponents of either are wrong.
Both process management and project management can be useful for certain problems within a business. Each of them is an excellent tool for creating business success. But the two options are good for different situations, so you need to make sure you have the right one in place to get things done.
Whether you’re looking to choose between the two or just want to learn more, we’ll help you get the information you need. You’ll get a better idea of the difference between process management and project management and learn how each of them can be useful in your business life.
The Basics of Projects and Processes
If you want an easy way to define projects and processes, try this one. A process is something that you do over and over again while a project is typically something you do rarely or only once in your life. But that’s only part of what makes the two things distinct.
When you’re working on a project, you’re making a change to something established or creating something entirely new. A project typically has three defining features: a defined scope, a fixed time, and allocated resources. When a project is being implemented, the goal is to create changes to the way a workforce does something on a day-to-day basis.
Another way to define a project is as a certain thing that needs to be delivered within a certain amount of time. Projects are typically collaborative and use the resources of several employees to create a unique service, product, or goal. A project is put into place when you want to create something that isn’t already dealt with through daily activities.
On the other hand, a process is a cyclic task. While both processes and projects have beginnings, middles, and ends, the way that is set up is unique for a process. A process is something that repeats over time until it is no longer needed to reach a certain outcome.
The plans and objectives of projects can change over time based on shareholder needs. This could include changing the mandate or resources with the project team’s agreement. Processes do not change unless there is a good reason for them to. And in many cases, a project is part of the process for making that change come about.
Processes are already established and used for ongoing work. The only way to make changes to them is through investment and planning. If the process has a huge impact on the company, changing the process will require the use of a project in most cases.
Essentially, projects are designed to make a change. Processes do the exact opposite by resisting change. They offer a repetitive workflow that is followed on a regular basis.
Put it in Perspective
Need an example?
Let’s say you’re working with a finance department at your business. This department has to go through hundreds of purchase requests each and every month. There’s no specific deadline for when all of these requests need to be handled since they come in overtime. The team has to deal with requests that are executed time and time again.
This would be a type of process.
So let’s take that same finance department and put them in a situation where a pattern needs to be built. Perhaps they need to keep better track of what goes through the department and what kind of information is passed on to executives.
Building a plan and putting this in place to make this happen would be a project.
Defining Projects and Processes in Your Business
If you’re looking to have a better understanding of the internal operations of a business, want to find areas where improvements can be implemented, or wish to put in place changes to optimize a business, one of the most questions you need to ask yourself is whether it is a process or a project.
Let’s say you are taking a deeper look at some procedure of your business that is regularly done and well established. In that case, whatever you are looking at is most likely to be a process.
Is there a set starting point and endpoint? It’s a process.
Here’s another example:
If you’re looking at the management for your sales team, they might have tasks that include receiving, reviewing, analyzing, and assigning leads. Depending on the results of those tasks, there are going to be a series of steps that involve communicating and following up with any prospective customer so the lead can be qualified.
If your monitoring or managing a process like this, what you are doing is process management. While you might be controlling, defining, and managing the process, it’s management or a process rather than a project. This also applies to reporting on outcomes or measuring results. You’re managing a process to meet the needs of customers to make a profit, but you aren’t looking to make changes to the process.
However, if you want to make a change to a process that is already in place, that would be considered a project.
Going back to the sales team management for a minute, an improvement that would be considered a project might mean implementing best practices, building a better training program, or installing a new system to streamline the sales process.
Making major changes like this involves a project with a clear plan, resources, sponsorship, and a useful approach to management and implementation. This comes down to project management – or applying resources and knowledge to create a project plan and scope that keeps you on tasks to complete all needed actions.
How Process Management and Project Management Fit Together
While project management and process management are different and have unique responsibilities, the two work together to help a business succeed.
Project management can be a part of process management when there is room for innovation to take place. When you have the appropriate process going at your business, it will determine smaller processes and can help dictate the flow of various projects.
When it comes down to it, without defined processes, a company will often find that projects are unsuccessful and quickly become chaotic.
Process management is an ongoing aspect of a business since it can help increase both consistency and efficiency. On the other hand, project management is constrained by a timetable and the best efficiency occurs when the project is complete.
A project is put into place to change a process but a process works to ensure the same thing is done every time to get a specific result. Project management requires a higher degree of innovative thinking, while process management means following a set of steps to reach a wanted outcome.
Want to see success? You need to be sure that you have the right mindset when it comes to projects vs. processes. The only way to do that is by considering what goal you’re looking to achieve.
Regardless of how old your business is and where you fit into things, managing processes is going to be important. It doesn’t matter if you run a huge corporation or a small start-up, customers, in either case, want to get the best services and products and that occurs with the help of streamlined processes.
While project management can help you take your company to the next level, it isn’t going to be successful unless you already have professionally managed processes. The good news is that new technology is constantly coming out to make that easier than ever before.
Get Your Processes on Track with Rindle
Whether you need to build new processes or take apart the ones you already have, you need the right software in your corner to make it a breeze. It should be software that anyone can pick up, whether they’re a new manager or a long-time process developer.
Ready to put an automated solution into place for your workflows? You can’t do better than using Rindle. It’s a fantastic type of software that gives you team tools to help you determine what processes are on track and which need to be improved. It can create better efficiency, improved process management, and give you a leg-up on the competition.