How do project management and process management differ?

Project and process management, although seemingly similar, are completely different things. Which one you need depends on your company, your role, and your job.

Let's consider a real-life example.

David works as a project manager at a company that designs and delivers mobile apps. Now, although the basic framework for the process is already known, the extent of features and time needed for every project differs. The level of detailing required for every application makes it impossible to turn into a process when starting the project. David and his team's work happens in a haphazard fashion, with the requirements and output varying as time progresses.

What David needs is not a process management tool, but a project management tool—and an agile one at that.

Project management

Now let's talk about Wendy.

Wendy is the HR manager of the same company, and she has a lot going on in her department. Low-level hiring is a continuous process that doesn't require Wendy's approval, but she still needs to be in the loop. When hiring at a senior level, though, Wendy needs to approve the candidate. She has to approve all leave requests at the company, deal with payroll issues, work with the finance team to decide annual bonuses for every employee, and much more.

Wendy needs a process management tool.

Process management

What is project management?

  • Project management is for events that happen only once, or happen frequently but don't have a predefined process. This could be something like setting up an office, or doing an organizational revamp.
  • It's better suited for work that's flexible, time-sensitive, and requires transparency.
  • Teams can only focus on a limited number of projects at once.
  • Projects cross multiple stages before completion, and each stage consists of a number of tasks and subtasks.
  • Every task in a project will have different priorities, and hence varying deadlines. Using a project management tool helps a team prioritize their tasks and work accordingly.

What is process management?

  • Process management is for handling repeated processes.
  • It's especially helpful in cases where the work passes through multiple teams and, therefore, multiple people.
  • The work being done is already defined from start to end, and every possibility and result is already known for every process.
  • A team can handle multiple processes running in parallel, say dealing with 10 asset requests on the same day, or processing 100 resumes for hiring at the same time, or tracking 1000 leads for a product during the same period.
  • By managing a process, you make it easier for everyone to know their next task, complete it on time, and ensure that there are no ambiguities or delays.

Summary

  • When executing a project, you have an idea of what you want in the end, and the project is all about reaching that goal. When you're beginning your project, you may have little to no idea of how you're going to achieve your goal. It's all about how many work items are pending, and how you're going to finish each of them in order to complete the project.
  • When executing a process, you already know what you want, and you know how you're going to get it done—it's just a matter of doing it. Your entire process is predefined, so everyone should know what happens next, and who should do what. Implementing process management with the right kind of BPM software saves you hours of labor and, in turn, increases your profit.

If you only use a workflow management tool to run your processes and nothing else, all you're doing is saving some time and stress. Simply optimizing your process a bit doesn't help you much in the long run.

A good process management tool, on the other hand, not only helps you run your existing process end-to-end, but also helps you to analyze and improve your process for the best results in the future. It integrates seamlessly with your other favorite applications, gets work done quickly with the help of automation, and helps in avoiding delays and subsequent losses.

Want to know how to optimize and make the most out of your processes? Is your work based on a process, but it's extremely complicated and causes problems every time anything has to happen? Get in touch with us and we'll help you!