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Projects * Unique * Finite * Deals with Future * Revolutionary change * Disequilibrium * Initiate change * Objective to be defined * Transient resources * Flexibility * Effectiveness * Goals * Risk and Uncertainty
From lists above, if a project is not actively seeking to initiate change in operations, then it is, in effect, a set of operational activities; improving situation incrementally.
Operational activities do not, in general, cause disequilibrium. It is operational activities that are destabilised. By project. Not other way round. Though there are plenty of examples of operations destabilising projects... But this is a resistance to change rather than initiation of change.
There is, however, a link between two. And successful projects need to have this made explicit. To take example of change. Projects are change efforts. But managing change is part of an operational manager's responsibility. Projects identify change required to move operations into future. Operational managers then manage introduction of those changes into their domains so that new operational practices are different from those before project.
Problems with mixing Projects and Operations: If a project begins to have characteristics that resemble those of operations, it is probably a good idea to bring it to an end. And ensure handover in a timely and professional manner.
Equally, if a project has within its plan elements that involve operations, it is probably better to take them out. Otherwise there is a risk that operational management falls to project manager.
So we need to be wary of "projects" that are: * Uniquely repetitive, * Continuously finite, * Projecting present into future, * Evolutionary rather than revolutionary, * Are stable, efficient and role based, and * Secure.
None of these bear characteristics of a project. Rather they are a mixture of both. They become "projerations", and are generally unsatisfying for everyone working on them.
Overcoming Mixing: One way to overcome mixing of projects and operations is to ensure that operational activities are properly resourced. The absence of correct operational resourcing often leads to projects being "loaded-up" with operational tasks such as report generation, cube building, process mapping, etc.
The people working on projects know this and react, causing tension with their operational activities.
The solution? Ensure that operational activities are correctly resourced. And don't, as far as possible, move unresourced operational activities into projects.
Stephen Hay is the principal of People and Process, http://www.the-process-improver.com , providing process mapping and enterprise architecture services to small and medium sized businesses and not-for-profit organizations.
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