Introduction Projects and Operations are quite distinct sets of activities that, when mixed, can cause unnecessary havoc with management of each. They have different resourcing requirements, require different management styles and have different objectives. Projects are time-constrained and initiate change. Operations are ongoing and suffer change, sometimes unwillingly...
This short paper is a brief overview of definitions, descriptions and characteristics of each set of activities. And concludes with some recommendations for avoiding worst of "projerations"...
Projects Most project management approaches define a project using terms such as: * a series of interrelated activities, * with a specific goal or end result, and * having specific start and finish dates.
Operations So we can broadly say that anything else is operations; upkeep activities or incremental improvement. Three key indicators that show when a set of activities is not a project (ie. is operations) are: * if there is no commitment to move ahead, or * if set of activities doesn't have an end date, or * if set of activities does not have a measurable goal.
Operations Operations can be described in terms of business functions or activities and business processes. Business functions are those groups of competence that are needed for healthy functioning of organisation. They can be decomposed into business activities that are usually, but not always, encapsulated by an organisational unit. For example, human resource management, activity, is partly encapsulated by Human Resources Department.
Business processes, on other hand, describe how organisation adds value. They are triggered from outside organisation and finish with organisation delivering something of value.
The two most common diagrams for these views are org-chart and process maps.
Projects Projects are described by their scope, requirements they are expected to meet and resources required to meet them. They have a deadline, milestones, stakeholders, steering groups, a budget, and change and communication plans.
They are initiated, planned, executed and completed. They add value for stakeholders, who may or may not be outside organisation.
The most common diagrams to help describe projects are: a GANTT chart for resource allocation, and PERT chart for critical path analysis.
Characteristics of Projects and Operations Activities grouped to form Projects or Operations are easily identifiable as each has its own set of characteristics. Generally speaking they are mutually exclusive though this is not always case. The table below outlines these in a comparative manner so that, in first instance, distinction can be made.
Operations * Repetitive * Continuous * Deals with Present * Evolutionary change * Equilibrium * Suffer change * Pre-defined objectives * Stable resources * Stability * Efficiency * Roles * Security and Predictability