What Did We Learn?
All four of these definitions explicitly state or infer:
- A series of activities in a logical sequence designed to produce some output.
- In other words, they all represent some form of process.
- They all also appear to involve a number of very similar activities such as researching/analysis, planning, design, organizing, conducting/controlling (but with specific skills suited to the types of production work) and delivery.
However, there are differences, as we might now expect:
- The project definitions imply a "once through" process to completion in a temporary team environment.
- The operations definitions generally imply the main process being continuously repeated by the same staff or team working on a permanent operational basis.
In summary, from these observations it is evident that both projects and operations involve many similar sounding activities. The outstanding difference is that projects are finite and operations are on-going. In fact Dr. Peter Morris has observed that this is likely the single differentiator between the two. Or as Dr. Rodney Turner is fond of saying, unlike operations: "A project has a start and a finish and a bit in the middle."
26. Rodney Turner, author and editor of The International Journal of Project Management, and Professor of Project Management at Erasmus University, Rotterdam