Published by Akash Kotadia

April 23, 2020

Project vs Process: What is the difference?

Project vs Process

In one of our earlier blogs, we talked about the difference between BPM vs RPA. Today, we are going to discuss the difference between Process vs Project. These two terms come from a completely different angle. Still, there is confusion around these words because of the underlying similarities like the stakeholders involved or the tasks done. Today, we are going to remove all these confusions once and for all. But before that let’s look at what we are going to cover in this blog.

A project is a big activity comprising smaller activities done to create value in the form of a product or service. These activities do not have a pre-defined model. They are very contextual and asynchronous. It includes customized planning, exploration, ideation, research and discussions regarding the achievement of defined goals.

For example, if you are told to build an eCommerce website for a client or build a volcano as a science experiment in school, they are both projects.

Depending on the size and scope of your project, the number of project stakeholders will differ. If you are planning to undertake a big project, you will need more people or time to complete it.

What is a process?

A process is just a list of events that you need to repetitively do in chronological order. Everything you do in your day to day life from cooking to paying electricity bills has a process attached to it.

The process is divided into steps. At each of these steps, at least one stakeholder is involved. There is a beginning, middle and end to a process. Some processes are done for a single time. While there are certain regular processes that are to be executed by the employees on a repetitive basis over a period of time.

For example – Onboarding an employee, submitting daily reports to the manager and approving leave requests of the employee are different types of processes.

Benefits of Process and Project

Before jumping to the differences, it is important to understand the benefits attached to both of them.

Benefits of Project

  • Chance of collaboration – When you are working on a project, it gives you a chance to collaborate with new people.
  • Skill Development – It helps you develop your skills by challenging you to push through your limits.
  • Defined timelines – When you are managing your project effectively, you get an exact idea of how much you will accomplish in how much time.

Benefits of Process

  • Bottlenecks discovery – When you regularly go through a repetitive process, you will figure out new bottlenecks that were previously invisible to you. (It works kind of like jamais vu, kidding!)
  • Smooth and structured flow – It helps you achieve a flow that would make your work efficient and faster.
  • Control – It gives you the ability to control your daily tasks, standards of output or time taken while completing the process.

Difference between Project vs Process

These terms are often confused and people forget the difference between project and process. But it is very clear. Processes are defined and fixed after a bunch of trials whereas projects are flexible and cannot be fixed.

Let’s take an example for each one of them.

JK Rowling, the writer of famous Harry Potter novels, had an idea. She undertook the project of writing and publishing the novel. This project has many complexities like :

  • Thinking of a great concept for the book, 
  • Writing the book that would attract readers, 
  • Finding the right publishers, and
  • Finding a channel to promote the book.

Here, a process will be attached to each of these tasks in the project. Finding the right publisher is a process which consists of steps like:

  • Researching on the publishers,
  • Checking out the history of these publishers
  • Negotiating the royalty
  • Choosing a publisher from the alternatives

These are all predefined & repetitive activities. Often Projects have many such processes. In a way, processes are an inseparable part of the undertaken project. You cannot separate the process from a project. While the other way around is possible.

For example, a factory manager who works in an assembly line has to just follow a process every day. All he needs to do is go to the predetermined steps and follow them to achieve efficiency.

Here’s a table that will help you clear out the differences between project and process.

Point Project Process
Definition A project is a big task that comprises of smaller short term tasks done to accomplish a predefined objective. A process is the set of tasks done in a chronological order to fulfill one purpose.
Example A lawyer when agrees to take a case for a client, they are assigned with a project. Filing the documents related to the case for paperwork is a process.
Time Duration The duration of the project is pre-determined and mostly a deadline is provided. It depends on the size of the project and other such factors. A process is often repetitive and done on a regular basis.

Actionable tips for Project Management

  • Practice daily or regular meetings with stakeholders

    When you have a project in hand, you must remember to manage tasks on a daily basis. If daily task evaluation is not an option for you, you must have a meeting twice a week. This makes everyone allocated and focused on their responsibilities.

  • Log time and expenses

    The time invested and the money spent are two of the most important metrics to understand your projects better. When you keep track of these things, you would be able to calculate revenue and make reports to compare the projects.

  • Pre-plan

    When you have done enough projects, you get an idea of what works and what does not. Plan your projects according to your previous experiences. It will help you complete the tasks faster and more efficiently.

Actionable tips for Process Management

  • Make a list of all the processes and standardize them

    The shadow process is a type of process that is not fixed by the company’s policy. These processes take a lot of time and are full of discrepancies like communication gaps, lack of feedback, etc. You must identify all the processes in your organization and make a list of these processes. It would allow you to go back and make changes however you want.

  • Create standardize guidelines for repetitive process

    Depending on the industry you work, the number of repetitive processes in your business will differ from one another. No matter how big or small the number is, you need to create a guideline. When you create a standardized guideline for these repetitive processes, it will help create a benchmark on how these processes are supposed to be done.

  • Always keep improving

    This is the most important actionable tip on process management that anyone can ever give you. After a point, it is not just about knowing your processes or making a list of your processes, it is continuous improvement. As we like to call it, processes are never perfect. There is always going to be a scope of improvement. Make sure you keep updating the process map as and when you can.

If you have read the blog this far, one thing is sure. You trust our knowledge of projects and processes. After extensive market research, we have identified some of the basic problems with the way processes run today. We are creating and planning to launch Fasproc, the fastest process automation platform to enhance your business activities. Join our beta list now and be the first one to know when we launch the Fasproc. If you join the beta list, you would be given:

  • Early access to this awesome platform
  • Lots of gratitude from us, and
  • Early adopter bragging rights when we are at the top

Conclusion

There might be a lot of confusion between the difference between Project vs Process. But I am sure that after reading this blog, you would have cleared off that thin line of confusion in your brain. After identifying the difference between these two, you are enabled with greater efficiency and productivity to run your business. Keep these actionable tips in mind to improve your managerial discipline. If you have any other questions, queries or tips regarding project management or process management, let us know in the comments below.

Category : BPM & Workflow

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