Project Vs Operational Work

I mentioned about operational work in one of earlier post. We generally categorize work performed in our organization as either Project or Operational work.

Operational works are done to achieve business goals, whereas projects are executed to start new business objectives. One or more projects can be executed to provide inputs to operations for better implementation. So, operations and projects have few intersection points during the product life cycle. Project management used to manage projects whereas business process or operations management is used to execute operations.

Basically, Projects are means of executing those activities that cannot be addressed within the organization’s normal operations limit.

We can appreciate the fundamental difference between Project work and Operational work by listing down the differences & similarities of them.

Difference between Projects and Operations are:

Projects Operations
* Temporary * Ongoing
* Output:Unique * Output: Repetitive
* Purpose: Attain its objective and then terminate * Purpose: Sustain the business
* Concludes when its specific objectives have been attained * Adopt a new set of objectives and the work continues

Similarities between Projects and Operation

  • Performed by people
  • Constrained by limited resources
  • Planned, executed, and controlled

(Reference: pg.6 – 7 – PMBOK® Guide 3rd Edition)

Here is a simple straightforward example:

In a mobile manufacturing company, management decided to create a unique water-proof mobile phone. For that they put together a group of research analyst. After a year of research, research analyst group came up with unique design for the mobile – what they executed was a Project.

With the design blueprint, mobile manufacturing unit started assembling all parts and produced 100 mobiles each day – this is called as Operations.