Project Management vs. Work Management: What’s the Difference?
Phrases “work” and “project” sometimes get put in the same basket. Truth be told, a project can sometimes present itself as the whole work one team is putting in. But, under all the project work, there is a large number of small tasks that every employee in the team encounters on a daily basis.
Project and work management represent different sets of actions applicable to diverse situations. And choosing a proper management solution can help teams solve potential problems or reach a certain goal.
Just like a diet consisting of healthy food without any efficient body training brings no desired results, an efficient work environment is harder to achieve if managers only care about the project itself and leave the rest of the work unrecognized.
In fact, research has shown that only 40% of skilled workers’ time is spent on their principal duties, which are commonly classified as project work. How can this be avoided? Well, simply by distinguishing how to make a difference between project management (PM) and work management (WM) strategies.
This article will help you understand how the two work together, but also give you a glimpse into how collaborative tools can help a company’s team become more productive.
Project Management: Explained
Project management (PM) is a method of completing a project’s goals by utilizing a combination of procedures, skills, and subject matter expertise. By using knowledge, skills, tools, and procedures dedicated to project activities, its requirements can be achieved more easily.
Normally, in project management, a timeframe and budget govern how the team assembles the final deliverables.
Project managers often have special technical skills that they use to help their teams. By encouraging their employees to finish the project work in a timely manner, even at crunch times, managers can keep the quality of the final product high.
Project Management’s Utility
The importance of project management cannot be overstated, as it may assist teams in completing projects of any size. Using this strategy, specific deliverables, milestones, and timetables can be streamlined efficiently throughout the whole project team.
Additionally, PM helps managers organize and keep track of their plans and reports.
Some PM strategies that can be applied to different areas of work are:
- Precise time and deadline tracking
- Putting together the company’s objectives and goals
- Planning the development of new products
- Developing and monitoring sales plans
- Managing a staffing project
Definition of Work Management
On the other hand, work management resembles a process that teams use to organize daily tasks and basic procedures assigned to a workflow. Workflows represent small tasks that, if defined well, can help an individual or a team reach a certain goal.
The goal of work management is to make the team’s mission crystal clear at all organizational levels. On a larger scale, this helps all team members reach their goals in the desired time.
Team leaders and managers can benefit from using WM solutions since they allow them to quickly streamline information to the whole team and help them do their work more effectively. Tasks, deliverables, objectives, deadlines, tools, and resources are often included in this set of information.
The top staffing agencies use work management tactics since they help them easily prioritize tasks inside of the HR team during the hiring process – planning interviews with potential candidates or sharing information on the latest application reviews. This way, different daily tasks can be efficiently managed at the same time.
The Importance of Good Work Management
Work management can be of great benefit to teams since it can help them handle jobs that have no deadlines or repeat themselves. Work management strategies can be applied in different situations:
- Automation and delegation of work
- Keeping track of new hire paperwork
- Keeping track of publication deadlines
- Real-time monitoring of all marketing campaign operations
- Planning Agile project sprints
- Managing project portfolios in a coordinated manner
The possibilities of implementing this strategy are wide and can help teams more easily deal with repetitive actions that become mundane overtime.
Key Differences Between Work and Project Management
Working outside of projects requires a different approach to project management due to the rigidity of the latter’s framework. When the business isn’t primarily focused on projects, and there’s a lot of operational work that supports the main goal, a more flexible approach to work management is the best choice for managers to choose.
Some of the key differences between the two strategies are:
1. Type of work
Project management tools help teams keep track of their collective project contribution. It’s common for projects to have clear goals, deadlines, and tasks for each member to do. As part of it, professionals from different departments work together on the same goal, so it’s important to keep the train running on the tracks.
In contrast to PM, work management aims to set up a system for all the regular work that the company does every day so that it can reach its goals. It includes simple and specific day-to-day tasks, such as responding to emails and going to meetings, which are all part of the job.
In project management, teams mostly follow a strict schedule in order to complete their tasks and deliver the finished product on time.
Even though timelines differ from one company or project to another, deadlines are often very strict, so everything in the project’s timeline can be done in a planned manner.
Rather than establishing deadlines, some managers may assess the effectiveness of their teams by analyzing the quality of output.
For instance, content writers can use WM tools to decide what to write about, find appropriate keywords, complete the post, and proofread it. But if they use PM tools, their task might even cover aligning the given article to current content trends online.
Project management involves clear start dates, progress, and end dates. It entails project participants doing specific tasks in order to achieve their goals for certain assignments. When they achieve their goals, the project is typically finished.
On the contrary, work management is ongoing and rarely has fixed deadlines. Its inclusion carries out repeating chores.
Employees may repeat a process by going through the same procedures each time. When they finish a task, they may use the same procedures to accomplish the same goal in the future.
Budget for the same continuous work that WM is all about may or may not exist. In contrast to that, teams gathered on a project follow a clear budget that determines their decision-making in the production process.
Some companies may provide liberal financial parameters to project teams, but other sectors may have more precise limits.
Social media advertisement can be viewed as a more limited type of work since it may end after its initial budget has been spent.
Work management is often brief and straightforward. However, project management is sometimes more complicated and includes several tasks to finish a project.
A good example could be the hiring process. The daily workload consists of posting on job boards, reviewing applications, and appointing interviews.
But, when an organization seeks candidates for multiple positions, the hiring company’s workload is expanding since it now involves providing proper employee training or leading additional courses. That’s where managers can benefit from a more project approach to work.
Connecting tasks together in series is all PM is about. On the other hand, the PM concentrates on detailed plans and task success tracking.
Maintaining a relationship with clients can be a good example of different approaches. Managers can work on collecting clients’ information based on which they can determine the appropriate solutions for them and inform the clients about the solutions.
But, by taking upon a more project approach, managers could record the client’s requests and track how their solutions affect the overall customer experience.
Using Software Management Solutions
Now, it’s even possible to arrange your team’s goals with software. Essentially, it’s an all-in-one software solution that enables teams to operate more efficiently by combining intelligent automation and on-the-fly communication. It also helps teams visualize their task lists and see how they all fit together in relation to one another.
As most of the modern world’s jobs are computer-based, it is now common for companies to use software management solutions to better organize both their daily tasks and projects.
It is no surprise that these solutions became so popular as they allow teams to access their work from different locations without having to carry a whole database of different files inside their computers.
A project management software is a program or collection of tools that facilitate team collaboration in order to finish a project. It is often used to schedule work, distribute resources, and communicate with stakeholders.
PM software helps teams plan and organize their work more effectively over the course of a project with the possibilities of:
- Unifying information and important data
- Monitoring the overall progress
- Establishing continuity
While project management software enables your team to handle unique, long-term projects successfully, it lacks the capability necessary to manage the team’s everyday duties, which account for the largest chunk of the working day.
That’s where work management software comes in handy, as they are intended to manage individual workloads and team processes within the context of a larger organizational activity. They can handle process, resource, time, and client relationship management, as well as business intelligence, all at once.
Using repeatable processes and dependable systems, successful businesses can master more than just specific projects and stay on top of all tasks. WMS allows for the integrated administration of daily chores as well as long-term initiatives.
They also offer all the benefits of a PMS, as well as additional benefits that go beyond the realm of project management. In particular, they are all-in-one job management solutions that help:
- Eliminate superfluous work
- Enhance time management
- Increase the efficiency of processes
So, why is it so important to draw the line between work and project management?
To comprehensively monitor and evaluate the team’s performance but at the same time tackle projects and day-to-day tasks, managers must develop systems that incorporate all aspects of work. That enables them to efficiently manage the team’s overall working time.
Even though they focus on different forms of duties, both systems are equally important. In complex fields of work, one cannot function without the other, as maintaining a good working environment is of great importance to companies and their employees’ well-being.
About the Author
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.
All photos by Yan Krukov from Pexels