A Perfect Combo: Project and Process Management
Project management and process management are often considered two separate management strategies. However, isn’t it possible that one could benefit the other?
Let’s take a closer look.
A project is a unique process aimed at a certain outcome; it is temporary, and ends as soon as the objective is accomplished. The most important part of a project is its plan, and therefore project management can be defined as organizing and executing this plan aimed at certain business results.
Meanwhile, process management is all about execution. It is not temporary, because processes are meant to be repeatable. That is to say, they have a certain predefined structure and steps, which are repeated in each process instance. Process management implies monitoring, optimization and improvement of business processes.
How can you bring project and process management together?
Although each project is aimed at a unique result, it usually consists of certain repeatable tasks and actions. By viewing these repeatable steps as business processes, you can find ways to perform them quicker and more efficiently.
Consider putting together a project plan. A project plan is something that no project can start without, a guide for how the project must be managed. It includes guidelines on communication methods and approval processes, specifies the project scope, cost and schedule. A project plan can contain certain subsidiary plans, such as human resource plan, risk management plan and procurement plan. Moreover, it often includes other typical documents: agreements, contracts, proposals and reports.
A prepared project plan must be approved by managers, sponsors, experts, project team and, sometimes, end users.
Now, imagine that preparation and approval of a project plan is a defined business process. Certain employees are responsible for preparing certain subsidiary plans; someone is responsible for preparing the project charter, while someone else has to decide who will be working on the project team. Everyone is assigned with his or her tasks according to the process map. When the tasks are accomplished, all the data is gathered in one place, and the process initiator has an almost ready document in their hands (using a template could come in handy at this point). What is the next process step? Sending the document to all the stakeholders for review.
If you are using BPM software, this is done automatically in just a second. All the process initiator had to do was click “Start Project Plan Preparation Process”, and – voilà – everything is under control.
One business process used in two different projects
This was just a simple example to demonstrate that BPM can be applied even in the most common project management cases.
Projects can be very different. Some involve just two or three people, while others contain sequences of tasks and engage whole departments. Some last for a week, while others can take years to complete. By applying BPM to your projects, you can easily control the schedule, budget, and execution of each process step.
If your company manages many similar-type projects, they can be converted into business processes and, therefore, executed and monitored according to BPM procedures. This means that your employees always know what is expected of them, they do not waste time doing unnecessary things, but instead work strictly on important tasks. Managers have access to all the required data and always have a clear picture of how things are working out.
To effectively apply BPM to project management, you need proper tools. Your ideal tool must combine project management and BPM software. Project Management applications usually include a timeline, Gantt chart, calendar, milestones and so on. BPM applications allows you to create a process diagram, automate your processes and do a lot more.
Let’s see what additional features you might need to manage your projects, apart from the evident planning and process execution tools.
- It is crucial that your tool provides a means of communication for your team members. Proper communication between employees, departments and even branch offices is essential for fast and accurate work.
- A Knowledge Base is extremely useful: it is a searchable database where all your team’s knowledge is stored.
- File sharing is another essential. If you have a way to easily save, sync and share files, your team’s collaborative work will improve dramatically.
With a tool that suits all your needs and implements both the project and process management approach, you get well-organized teamwork, transparency, predictability and stability. Having all the plans, deadlines, responsibilities, statuses, reports, files, discussions in one place is very convenient, while tracking the progress of your team’s tasks allows you to stay in control of things 24/7, all contributing to your business goals.
By combining planning and execution, you can do more than you think. By using a single IT solution to manage both you can take over the world.
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