Operations are an organizational function performing the ongoing execution of activities that produce the same product or provide a repetitive service.
Examples include production operations, manufacturing operations, and accounting operations.
Though temporary in nature, projects can help achieve the organizational goals when they are aligned with the organization’s strategy.
Organizations sometimes change their operations, products, or systems by creating strategic business initiatives.
Projects require project management while operations require business process management or operations management.
Projects can intersect with operations at various points during the product lifecycle, such as:
- At each closeout phase.
- When developing a new product, upgrading a product, or expanding outputs.
- Improvement of operations or the product development process.
- Until the divestment of the operations at the end of the product lifecycle.
Here are some questions we might ask ourselves when determining whether to treat an operational item as a project:
- What is the impact of failure?
- If the objective of the operational item is not met, will it negatively impact the organization’s ability to do business?
- Will senior management become involved?
- Will it impact customer service?
- If so, project management processes may help reduce these risks.
- Will cross-functional resources be needed?
- Will resources have to be involved whose job isn’t directly related to the operational item?
- Will other departments be needed?
- Will other resources need to schedule and plan their time for tasks?
- Resource planning may be helped by project management processes.
- Does the operational item need visibility?
- Is the item in all other respects minor but important enough that others within the department or organization need to be aware of it?
- A project-based communication strategy may help keep the item prioritized.
- Who are the key stakeholders involved?
- Has past experience with the stakeholders shown they prefer a more formalized approach?
- Do they prefer to see written plans and schedules?
- Project communications planning can help with stakeholder management.
- Will the item result in materials that may need to be referenced in the future?
- Will there be process changes, system changes, procedural changes, known issues, or workarounds that need to be documented and to be available for future reference?
- If so then perhaps a project library is the best repository.
- Would the item benefit by applying project management processes to it?
- Any undertaking that would benefit from project management techniques can be approached as a project.