You are hereAre you doing a Project or a Process?

Are you doing a Project or a Process?

By steve - Posted on 26 October 2010

Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.
--Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

When you are working on changing something and are doing the planning, it is important to first ask yourself, "is this a project or a process?"

It is important because the two are often confused, but each are managed very differently...

A project has a beginning and an end. A process is ongoing.

The fact that a project HAS a beginning and an end changes everything about how you would manage it. First, you need to start with the end in mind. What are you trying to create? How will you know when you are done? Then, armed with your planning knowledge (or lack of it), you forge ahead until you are done, the project is cancelled, or you run out of funding. You also need to handle change management because everyone, usually, learns more as you go along. You'll need a way to handle changes to specs.

The fact that a process doesn't end changes everything about how you would manage it. First, you need to define and document the process (all the steps) and show the inter-relationships between your resources. Then you document SOPs (standard operating procedures), manage the change process, and monitor key measurements to make sure things are on track.

One important thing both projects and processes have in common is that you have to manage change. This is rarely done and even more rarely done well. It is so important, it deserves its own chapter!

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