Blog: Process is the Main Thing - Anatoly Belychook
Process vs. Project Management distinction is in fact very artificial – at a closer look one doesn’t exist without the other.
Both for projects and processes two levels of management can be specified:
- managing business/company (or its part)
- managing the management system – let’s call it meta-management
For example, managing the new shop construction is about creating timely and accurate schedule, back it up with resources, make everyone know what he/she should do, where and when. Reporting and control, addressing deviations and adjusting schedule – this is the project management routine. It’s the first level of the project management.
Yet the second level deals not with the projects per se but with the set of project management processes: initiation, resources management, risk control, phase and project closure. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) counts 47 processes; it talks more about processes than about projects.
Now let’s look at the process management. At the first level it’s about managing company activities via documented, designed and/or executable business processes. Let’s agree how we deal with e.g. customer’s complain once and follow the procedure each time.
Yet this single-level view of the process management is totally outdated; the process management today is about managing the ever-changing processes – this is the second level or meta-management. Process volatility is an axiom – business environment is ever changing as well as our understanding of how the job should be done.
Now how do change processes? By executing projects! It may be a big transformation-scale project or a series of small projects (a program). Once again, the big part of BPM Common Body of Knowledge (CBOK) is about these projects and change management.
Summing it up:
- process meta-management is project management
- project meta-management is process management
Therefore, professional process management implies project management and vice versa. “Process people” (more inclined to do a routine, repeating job) vs. “project people” (more targeted to reach unique results) is rather vulgar: the real “process man” appreciates and understands project work while good PM is in fact process-oriented.
It isn’t a pure theory – we hit this dualism in practice every time.
A recent example is the case of Moscow Genplan Institute discussed at the recent ABPMP Russian Chapter seminar: “Process Management In The Project Organization”. It’s the project business in essence: city development planning and design. These projects are managed by processes; two core processes were presented: contract work and project execution. These process are in turn managed by improvement projects: the contract process is now at version 9.