Much has been written on the subject of whether companies and law firms should begin with process improvement or project management efforts. They aren’t the same, and it’s important to understand the distinction as well as the benefits that each one can offer your organization.
Process improvement is a way of streamlining a repeated set of tasks for maximum effect.
Generally speaking, process improvement efforts are undertaken to streamline and improve the operations of a business. Process improvement efforts typically require teams to analyze why they are doing things the way they are and find better ways. Does every piece of paper need to be touched so many times? Where are the economies in the process?
Project management is a disciplined approach to starting, planning, executing, managing, and finishing a discrete project.
Project management can have associated processes. For example, the process of analyzing risks or identifying and documenting lessons learned. Projects can also have associated processes. For example, if your project is to develop a new enhancement for your web application, your project could include multiple build, test, and refine steps.
The question that project managers need to continually ask is this:
Where is the value to the client or the project?
Even if your management team is your client, asking the question forces a team to look for continuous improvement in their efforts, whether they are operational processes, project efforts, or project management efforts.
There will be times when your client may not understand the value. For example, time spent on team training exercises may not seem to offer value to a client in the short term, but it will improve effectiveness over the long term. You will have to be objective and ask yourself if the value is there. If what you are doing has no value to the client, your project, or your management, why are you doing it?
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We find processes and projects in most organizations, and most organizations would learn a lot from undertaking improvement efforts. Some companies are more project-centric, while others are more operationally centric, and that impacts the decision about which improvement project to take on first.
Benefits to improving a process may include:
- Reduced costs from completing the same workflow in less time and/or with fewer people.
- Improved documentation because the process becomes simpler.
- Better training with an increased understanding of what is involved.
- Improved quality, resulting from improved documentation, better training, and a more streamlined process.
Benefits to using an effective and consistent project management methodology, and software, may include:
- Lower investments in projects without business value.
- Reduced project costs when committed and effective teams are engaged.
- More clarity, transparency, and better communications.
- Superior resource management.
- Improved project outcomes.
- Better executive decision-making.
When taken together, the benefits can transform an entire organization into a visionary firm that enjoys simpler, more streamlined work flows with a happier, more effective workforce; achieves greater profitability; and is able to capitalize on new opportunities.
Smart Projex software has been streamlined so that project teams focus on what matters most. Learn more here.
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