- Project: temporary, unique, aligned with strategic objectives, with a defined outcome (product, service or result)
- Operation: ongoing, repetitive, vital to sustaining the business
According PMBOK® Guide, “Project” and “Operation” are defined differently:
- Project: A project is a temporary endeavor that is taken to create a unique deliverable (namely: product, service or result).
- A project must be unique and non-recurring, i.e. every project is different.
- Every project has a definite begin and end date.
- The ultimate aim of projects are to achieve/align with the strategic objectives of the organization, e.g. improve efficiency, introduce new products, enhance current products, etc.
- The end products for a project can be a new product, improved products, enhanced operation procedures, etc.
- Examples: develop a new PMP® Exam reference book, create a new PMP® online training course, prepare for the PMP® Exam
- Operation: Operations are routine ongoing activities/tasks for the organization.
- Operations must adhere to pre-defined steps/procedures.
- Operations carry on indefinitely until a change is introduced.
- All normal business functions of the organization are considered operations.
- Operations are necessary to sustain the business.
- Examples: printing of PMP® Exam books, delivering online PMP® Exam training to Aspirants, accounting/staffing/sales management
On the other hand, “Project” and “Operation” do carry some similarities:
- They both have to take limited resources into accounts.
- Both projects and operations are performed by people/human resources.
- Both involve execution and control (e.g. quality control).