Often we are asked, what is the difference between project management and operation management?
Although they sound synonymous, project management and operations management are rather two different yet intersecting terms.
Operations management is an ongoing work, that is, it goes on and on. It is an organizational function that manages all activities related to effectively running any organization. Production operations, accounting operations, service operations, IT, manufacturing, etc., all fall under operations management. As long as the business runs, operations management keeps running incessantly.
Project management, on the other hand, is venture specific. This starts as the project initiates and ends as the project is accomplished. The sole objective of project managers is to complete the project efficiently and within a given time-frame. The role of project managers generally ends when the project ends. Projects are time oriented and short lived. They are bounded by time constraints and a limited budget. Projects act as an add on to the existing organizational endeavors. Project management is the administration of these short lived objectives that drive a change in the ongoing organization.
Ideally, most project plans are “operationalized” and handed off to operations managers.
Operations management ensures complete administration of product or service realization cycle which includes planning, purchase, quality control, supply chain management, delivery, customer service, etc. They are permanent undertakings that accommodate repeated outputs. Operational managers have to be specialists in their field of work. They have routine work which is repeated time and again.
The major differences between project management and operations management can be broadly classified under the following heads:
Project management requires many different skills like negotiation skills, technical know hows, planning, implementation, etc. These skills keep on changing as per the project is undertaken. Operational management, on the other hand, requires specified skills which are consistent. The planning and deployment are generally done by the management. Carrying out the functions efficiently and productively is what needs to be looked after under the operations management.
The roles and responsibility under project management are temporary and limited to the project. They may change as the project changes. However, under operations management, generally the roles and responsibilities are concurrent and stable. The same management techniques need to be repeated for the next product cycle. Optimization of operations is the core responsibility of operations management.
Project management has to be observant of time and budget. They have a stipulated time within which the project is to be completed. This can be met with utilizing more resources. Operations management has to be achieved by utilizing the available limited resources. Their budgets are usually fixed annually. Operations management do not have time constraints, rather they have set targets which are set as per the organizational requirements.
Though both operations management and project management meet at different points of the product life cycle, they have different objectives altogether. The goal of operation management is to improve the business process continuously to increase effectiveness, optimize operations and achieve a competitive edge. While project management focuses on redesigning and carrying out new projects to be incorporated in the organization from time to time.