A priority of any organization (established or new) is to create efficient workflows to achieve core objectives. Ultimately, how you achieve your goals directly impacts your company’s product quality, production rate and costs — and all these factors affect your bottom line.
Successful workflow optimization begins with defining your goals. Your approach depends on whether you use business processes or project management. Making the right choice between the two is crucial to reaching the goals of a business or organization in the most efficient way.
Business project management and process management are business techniques that are as different as they are alike, with common and unique objectives and phases. Understanding their differences and similarities can help to improve workplace efficiencies and business results. Graduates of an advanced business degree in process management will have a thorough understanding of how process and project management work together to achieve outcomes.
What Is Project Management?
This discipline or methodology involves organizing ideas and priorities and developing and implementing a plan to accomplish a goal or produce a deliverable by a deadline. Project managers assemble a team, determine what tasks are required, delegate responsibilities, set and manage a budget, mitigate risks along the way and monitor work through project completion.
What Is Process Management?
This discipline or methodology follows a systematic approach to align repetitive or frequent business processes with organizational objectives. Process managers ensure that steps are detailed and documented in sequence, accounting for systems and areas of improvement. Process management is important in ensuring that employees follow expected standards during a particular method or approach.
Understanding the Similarities and Differences
Process and project management each have applications within an organization, so business decision-makers must understand how the two options apply to different situations. Each is an excellent tool when applied appropriately.
Individual projects are often time-bound and one-and-done. A project produces an outcome and results in something new. Often, managers handle many projects at once in order to produce, improve or change something.
Processes create ongoing, long-lasting workflows that repeat over time and result in specific outcomes. There are typically fewer processes developed or revised within a business at any point in time than projects. Therefore, effective processes stand the test of time and resist change.
Given the nature of projects and processes, a project manager is likely to be a primarily creative, innovative thinker, while a process manager is often an organized and regimented thinker.
Here are some of the areas in which some confusion comes into play:
- While some projects aim to create process change, processes are implemented to create consistency over time.
- Often, projects are initiated to change a process. The project manager leads the project but is generally not the person directly working on changes to the process.
- Project management can be a component of process management when part of the process is creating something new or innovating.
- Changing processes can change the priorities or flow of various projects within a business.
- As a by-product of project management, project managers often revise or optimize existing processes they follow. In this instance, the process manager then takes over and hones the process for future use.
Situations That Call for Project or Process Management
When companies are working with outdated computer hardware, software and technology, project management is the discipline used to source and integrate new technologies. When processes involving hardware and software start to lag behind competitors in terms of time and efficiency, it is time to use process management.
If there is an unidentified problem in a department, a project can be pursued to arrive at and address the culprit. If a slow process is increasingly causing customer consternation, this situation calls for process management.
In any industry, graduates of University of Illinois Springfield’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Business Process Management offer employers the expertise to successfully analyze and design organizational processes and manage projects to successful completion. They will understand the differences of the two processes in order to use them to their fullest potential, and career opportunities await graduates who want to be project managers, process managers, process analysts, business intelligence analysts, business directors and operations managers.