Managing Projects or Project Management: Is there a difference?
Let’s start with the simplest and most straightforward answer to this - YES!
There is a huge difference between these two terms (despite them using the same words in a different order!) and understanding the distinction ensures you find the right software to effectively support your business needs, boost productivity and overall, make life at work that much easier.
So what does managing projects mean?
Managing projects is generally when a team or individual is responsible for a single piece of work and its goals and objectives. There’s likely to be many of these going on across the organisation like a Sales team chasing up 100 leads by the end of the month headed up by the Sales Manager, a Marketing department creating a host of new collateral headed by a Brand Manager, or a Finance department tracking down all the outstanding payments before the year end; the list is endless! These projects are all important of course, but they’re more tactical, short-term projects.
You’re probably familiar with the buzzword ‘task management’ too, often thrown around Zoom meetings or the office when referring to Project Management. In fact, ‘task management’ is more closely aligned to managing projects.
To keep things simple, we can break down task management into two types;
- Standalone steps. This could be actions from your usual weekly meetings, or even just the tedious task of tidying up your desktop because you’ve saved everything there; it’s basically a ‘to-do list’. It can also be used in a collaborative format to manage tasks of a group, for example, a Marketing team may use a Kanban board to keep track of who’s doing what, what’s outstanding and what’s completed.
- Tasks which are a part of a wider project; this is the part which is more closely aligned to managing projects. Your ‘to-do list’ for the day wouldn’t have the task to ‘build a new product’ as it’s highly unlikely for this to be done in an afternoon (if it is for you, drop us your CV please!). Instead, whoever is managing the project of ‘building a new product’ would likely have a list of tasks that need to be done that work toward building the new product.
Software tools for managing these day-to-day type projects are likely to be positioned as project management tools but in reality they are task management. The ones that help you get organised, collaborate with your team and track the progress, but not equipped to run a sizeable portfolio of multiple complex projects.
What is project management?
Project Management is an all-encompassing discipline, overseeing multiple complex projects in more than just a task management capacity too, covering communications, risk management, reporting and so much more! Generally it’s an approach that operates on a much larger scale than managing projects alone.
The role goes into more depth than the management of projects that we discussed above, with projects strategically aligned to business drivers. If there’s multiple project managers, they’re likely to be in their own PMO (Project Management Office), responsible for internal or external projects on a larger scale, led by a Head of PMO.
These project managers need to take into account risks and dependencies, manage resource allocations and costings, timelines, completion rates, KPIs and much more which requires a more strategic approach. With so many moving parts, it’s vital that project managers can instantly have eyes on exactly where each project is up to, see who is responsible for each stage and be able to spot and remove any potential bottlenecks.
To accommodate this in-depth, overall view, effective project management software or rather project portfolio management software (ppm) should provide a real-time, all-in-one snapshot of multiple projects, while automating all the usual pain points like meeting minutes, agendas and reports. The best project portfolio management software should also double up as a task management tool. There’s no sense in using one platform for tasks, and another for projects, why create the extra step?
What solution helps you best?
It’s important to know how much depth you need from project management software so it can help make your working day easier (after all, a good tool helps you but a great tool boosts your productivity and saves you time). To extract the best from a project management solution, you need a provider that can help roll it out successfully across the organisation and be on hand when you need support.
All of the above is precisely why we built Fluid, to offer any and all teams a suitable solution that you’ll actually want to use at work, as it makes your day-to-day workload management simpler. We don’t just have a great tool though; we provide a complete managed service with appropriate training, guidance and online support, helping them to make the most of the software to make their days more efficient.
Interested in learning more about Fluid? Our team would love to chat.