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Project Management and Operation Management

project management and operations management

How are project management and operations management similar?

If you have ever contemplated beginning a career in management of any kind, you have most likely come across job descriptions in your research that reference project management and operations management. Both of these terms refer to the management of specific projects.

At first glance, these roles might appear to be confusingly similar to one another. Both positions provide assistance to the operational aspects of the company by planning, coordinating, and carrying out activities in pursuit of an organizational objective. However, there are some very significant and fundamental differences between the two professions that you could work in.

In the following section, we will examine these distinctions so that you have access to all of the information that you require in order to determine which profession is the best fit for you and to formulate a strategy for how you will get there.

Despite the fact that project management and operations management are two distinct fields, it is essential to take into account the ways in which the two disciplines interact.

Bolick offers some illuminating commentary by saying, “There are times when the role of a project manager will intersect with operations management.”

First, a change that is going to have a significant impact on a part of the way a business operates is almost always going to be managed as a separate project. As soon as the change has been delivered by the project, operations will resume concentrating on maintaining, operating, and providing support for the products or services that were produced as a result of the project.

Second, during the closeout phase of a project, project managers and operations personnel frequently work together to begin the process of transitioning responsibility for any ongoing maintenance and operations associated with the deliverable or service.

Third, a project has a beginning date and an ending date, a specific budget, and employees and workers who are only there temporarily. On the other hand, an operation is a never-ending cycle of work that requires permanent employees, workers, and expenses and does not have a definitive end date (in most cases).

Project Management

What is a Project Manager?

A project manager’s primary responsibilities include making plans, carrying out those plans, and bringing projects to a successful conclusion. In most cases, It is the responsibility of the project manager to coordinate the utilization of these resources in order to carry out the activities necessary to finish the project within the allotted amount of time and money.

Business Operations

What is an Operations Manager?

In a company, it is the responsibility of the operations manager to ensure that daily operations are carried out in the most effective and trouble-free manner possible. They are an essential component of any management team because of their role in overseeing the different departments that make up a company and assisting those departments in better coordinating their efforts with one another to achieve the organization’s overall objectives.

How Do Project Management and Operations Management Differ?

The definition of a project as opposed to operations is what ultimately serves as the primary dividing line between these two roles. According to the Project Management Institute, also known as PMI, the definition of a project is a temporary endeavor that is undertaken to produce a one-of-a-kind product, service, or result.

On the other hand, business operations are ongoing activities that produce long-term, repetitive outputs. For example, manufacturing products or providing services are both examples of business operations.

Therefore, the role of an operations manager is one that is ongoing, whereas the role of a project manager is one that is temporary in nature and pertains to a particular project.

Both jobs require a certain set of competencies, education, and experience in order to be successful. However, there are several important distinctions between the two roles.

Roles and Responsibilities

It is expected of project managers, as part of the roles and responsibilities they fulfill on a daily basis, to

  • Manage teams
  • Plan and define projects.
  • Coordinate and oversee the execution of projects.
  • Manage the schedule.
  • Monitor the budget.
  • Measure and report progress.

Among the many duties that fall under the purview of operations managers are, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Overseeing daily operations
  • Identifying and addressing problems and opportunities
  • Managing the budgeting, planning, reporting, and auditing
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance
  • Developing operational policies and procedures

Job Growth and Salary

The amount of money that you make in any given profession is highly variable due to a number of factors, including the length of time that you have spent working in the profession, the sector of the economy in which you are employed, and the amount of experience that you have.

The salary range for project managers is typically between $47,000 and $110,000 per year, with the national average salary coming in at $72,675 per year. However, the average salary for project managers in the United States is $72,675 per year. Operations managers, on the other hand, can bring in anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 annually, depending on the sector in which they are employed and the location of their workplace. An annual salary of $63,925 is considered to be the national average for operations managers in all fields of business.

The significant contribution that project managers make to the achievement of business goals is reflected in the generous salaries they receive. As a project manager advances through their career, the breadth and depth of their skill set continues to grow with each and every project that is successfully concluded. As a consequence of this, experienced project managers are in high demand, and as a result, employers typically compensate them with higher wages in exchange for their expertise. As is the case with professionals in project management, operations managers can anticipate an increase in their pay as they advance in their careers through the accumulation of additional experience and the honing of their skills.

As more and more sectors become aware of the value that skilled project managers bring to organizations, there has been a concomitant increase in the demand for qualified individuals to fill these roles. According to projections made by the Project Management Institute (PMI), more than 2.2 million new jobs related to project management will be added to the labor force every year between now and 2027. It is currently a good time to enter the rapidly expanding field of project management because more companies than ever before are looking to add project managers to their teams. According to information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job opportunities available for general and operations managers is anticipated to rise at a rate of seven percent between the years 2014 and 2024. When compared to the rates for all other occupations in the United States, this one falls somewhere around the middle.

Important Skills

Both project managers and operations managers need to have a certain set of core competencies in order to be successful in their jobs. The following list of skills, while by no means exhaustive, does a good job of accurately reflecting those that are required for both of the positions:

  • Communication that is both clear and effective between all parties involved in a project or operation, including key stakeholders, vendors, and members of the team.
  • Time management is necessary in order to keep activities and tasks on track and according to the schedule. leadership skills in order to effectively manage a team and provide coaching or motivation when it’s needed.
  • Having the organizational skills necessary to keep track of all of the different complex moving pieces that are a part of a project or the ongoing operations of a business.
  • The ability to solve problems and adapt requires flexibility and the willingness to make adjustments as required.
  • Technical expertise in your particular field or industry, to assist in the prevention of problems and the development of solutions before they arise.

The application of these skills is where the differences lie, despite the fact that the skills required for each of these positions are similar and overlap with one another. It is also essential to keep in mind that the industry and company for which a project or operations manager is working will naturally influence the skills that are necessary for performing the duties of a particular role.


There are a variety of entry points available for those interested in the field of project management. When hiring for entry-level positions, the majority of employers require a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field, such as project management or another business-related field.

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, offered by the Project Management Institute, is the credential of choice for many individuals who aspire to work in the field of project management (PMI). Obtaining the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification demonstrates to prospective employers that you are familiar with the fundamentals of the project management field as well as the best practices for managing projects.

Many times, project managers will also decide to pursue an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Project Management, in order to not only demonstrate their mastery of the concepts involved in the field, but also to gain additional experience that can help them advance their careers.

The assistant academic specialist for the Master of Science in Project Management program at Northeastern University, Christopher Bolick, encourages prospective students to find a program that makes use of faculty members who are active in the industry:

The fact that our courses are taught by seasoned project management professionals who have a minimum of ten years of practitioner experience in addition to their professional project management certification is a significant advantage of our program (PMP). This enables a diverse and engaging representation of the industry, as well as provides our students with opportunities to gain experience with various methodologies in the classroom.

In addition to this, he mentions that “Northeastern focuses on experiential learning by allowing learners with varying degrees of work experience to participate in opportunities to practice their knowledge globally and collaboratively.” Experiential learning gives students the opportunity to acquire knowledge through real-world experience, reflective observation, and active experimentation in the classroom. To put it another way, experiential learning allows students to “learn by doing.”

The steps required to become an operations manager are, in many respects, analogous to those required to become a project manager. The majority of employers in this industry require candidates to possess a bachelor’s degree in business management or a field that is academically equivalent (at a minimum). When it comes to finding a job, gaining experience in the real world is just as important as having experience managing projects in order to differentiate yourself from the other candidates. Graduate degrees are frequently preferred for those who are seeking to advance their careers into management positions. For instance, the majority of Chief Operating Officers (also known as COOs) have a Master’s degree in Business Administration or even a Doctorate in Business Administration.

Getting Started

It is essential to ensure that the profession you want to work in is congruent with the objectives you wish to achieve in life before settling on a path to a specific line of work. If you believe that a career in project management would be a good fit for you, you should think about the actions you can take to enter the industry and differentiate yourself from the other candidates.

Your first step toward achieving your goals might be to earn a Master of Science in Project Management or a Master of Business Administration degree. This decision will depend on the specific goals you have set for yourself.

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