Collaborative Work Management – Is it a project or a process?

Labeling Work as a Process or Project? Don’t.

Why a process-driven project management is critical to collaborative work management

Today’s enterprise business operates fast. Processes are outsourced to other companies across the globe; customers are reached in real-time across many different channels; businesses are constantly adapting to meet these changing market requirements.

As the lines continue to blur, businesses often find themselves misidentifying a task as a project (or a process), opting to choose one management tool to plan, execute, manage and analyze work as it flows across the organization.

Collaborative Work Management – The Science of Process-Driven Project Management

First, let’s compare the two types of management software tools.

  • Project management tools: Represents a project timeline, but is poor at facilitating a workflow.
  • Process management tools: Shows a sense of time (left to right or top to bottom), but without a visual indication of time. That is, all steps are given equal weight.

It’s easy to see why a business would make the mistake of selecting one approach over the other (or alternatively, try to align two management tools). They offer distinct advantages. But in a dynamic enterprise environment where the product and customers are continuously changing, there are two problems with this thinking:

  1. There is an implied process in every project
  2. Processes have a timeline, but can be managed

The process is often obscured in project managers like Gantt charts, where it’s difficult to get a holistic view of how works flows through the project. All processes have a beginning and an end, but slight variations in this time period can be managed.

Existing enterprise work management platforms compound this issue. If the enterprise software application landscape were a supermarket, process management would be in one aisle, and project management would be in another. Business have next to no opportunity to blend capabilities of both.

Making matters more difficult, process-driven management tools require different skill sets than project-driven tools. A project manager may not have the same business skills as a business analyst who may be more adept at collecting data, for example.

Process-Driven Project Management: The New Aisle in the Enterprise Supermarket

If there were a software supermarket, you would find an aisle for project management products, and an aisle to process management products. There is no aisle for products that combine both.

The disconnect here is what causes so many silos for enterprises.

The reality is that a significant portion of everyday activities requires a blend of the two management tools: a combination of unique iterations of a recurrent process (process management) with a distinctive pre-planned timeline (project management).  In other words, individuals have discretion over how tasks are completed within the framework of a scheduled timeline.

Once organizations realize how, and why, they should seek a process-driven project management solution — instead of deciding between the two — the real value can be realized quickly. From there, a process-driven project management solution can become the status quo within an organization’s structure.

To read more on this topic, click here to read a full report from Work-Relay.


Work Relay is a collaborative work management platform that offers businesses a more holistic, unified way to manage projects as processes. Want to understand the collaborative work management vendor ecosystem?