Difference between project management and process management

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What is the difference between project management and process management?

Best Solution

The defining characteristic of process vs. project is repeatability vs. uniqueness.

  • Process is a repetitive collection of interrelated tasks aimed at achieving a certain goal.

  • Project is a unique endeavour with a beginning and an end undertaken to achieve a goal.

Process management has emphasis on increasing "repeatability" of the tasks, efficiency (descreasing time needed, reducing cost), increasing quality (including consistency in quality).

Project management has emphasis on getting the thing done, achieving the end result. Higher efficiency is harder to achieve since it might require custom tools and methods that can only be developed if the project was turned into a repetitive process.

Applied to software development making a daily build is a process:

  • It's a sequence of tasks aimed at end result.

  • The sequence is repetitive.

  • Tasks are known on the outset, since the process is repetitive.

  • When managing daily builds we want them to be cheap, fast and consistently meet quality standards, in most cases this is best achieved through increased automation.

Designing a new feature is a project:

  • The feature is unique, once we've designed it we won't be designing it again. Maybe version two, but its going to be a different endeavour.

  • At some point we need to stop designing the feature (even when its far from perfect) and it is best if we stipulate in advance how do we know that we've reached that point.

  • We're not as much concerned with that the design is achieved though the most efficient sequence of steps, as with actually coming up with a sufficiently good design at the end.

  • Hence the sequence of tasks that goes into design will be hard to automate and we need to concentrate on keeping the bounds, re-evaluating criterias, adjusting for newly discovered facts and generally moving the entire thing towards completion.

  • We have to constantly select from an increasing number of possible tasks that come up in the light of newly discovered facts and pick these that will take us closer to the goal.