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Updated on August 4, 2010

Teamwork and project management. (3rd ed.)

Operations Management Program in the College of Management


The primary difference between projects and operations -- and this is a key concept in thinking about projects -- is that projects are unique. There is a fixed end-date and a fixed budget to achieve a defined product or service. Projects that go on and on into releases 29 through x are not one project; each release should be considered separate and consist of an entirely discrete set of phases, plans, and outcomes.

Another difference between projects and operations is that, in operations, we frequently manage or schedule in weekly or hourly increments, but in projects, we use a concept of progressive elaboration. We start at the highest level by defining project objectives, then we continuously elaborate or decompose down to progressively smaller increments until we have defined specific project outputs, such as deliverables or operating features, along with the execution tasks required to create those outputs. (Berkely.ed, 2009)

A project plan can be considered to have five key characteristics that have to be managed:

  • Scope: defines what will be covered in a project.
  • Resource: what can be used to meet the scope?
  • Time: what tasks are to be undertaken and when.
  • Quality: the spread or deviation allowed from a desired standard.
  • Risk: defines in advance what may happen to drive the plan off course, and what will be done to recover the situation. (, 2009)

References: 2009. 1.1 The Difference between Projects and Operations. Retrieved November 20, 2009, from: 2009. Basics of Project Management. Retrieved November 20, 2009, from:

The sad thing about plans is you cannot have everything immediately.

Many people plan using planning software packages, without realizing the tradeoffs that must be made. They assume that if they write a plan down, reality will follow their wishes. Nothing is further from the truth. The point of a plan is to balance:

  • The scope, and quality constraint against,
  • The time and resource constraint,
  • While minimizing the Risks. (, 2009)

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