Projects Vs Operations: Image: Supplied

Projects Vs Operations: How To Manage Each

In this article, we will take a look at the roles played by both project managers and operations managers and what their day to day consists of.


Projects Vs Operations: Image: Supplied

Most work environments have evolved to more digital, dispersed and dynamic spaces that are in need of both operational and project managers. But, who does what? In this article, we will take a look at the roles played by both project managers and operations managers, what their day to day consists of, and how you can join this growing career field.

Operations Managers

Operations managers are in charge of making sure the business runs smoothly and efficiently. They are responsible for overseeing, directing, and controlling business operations. Production operations, manufacturing operations, accounting operations, software support, and maintenance are examples of operations management too. Being an operations manager means you are the heart and soul of the business and need to know at all times what is happening within and outside the business.

Operations managers’ responsibilities often include, but are not limited to:

  • Managing day-to-day activities
  • Problems and opportunities must be identified and addressed
  • Budgeting, planning, reporting, and auditing are all tasks that must be managed
  • Regulatory compliance is essential
  • Creating policies and procedures for the operation

The Project Part Of Things

A project in its core is the process of creating a product, launching a service, or working towards a desired result for a certain period of time. Project managers who work for companies are often presented with various projects, and unlike operations managers, they do not always work on the same things. They also do not work to deliver the same results as all projects are different.

Project managers are expected to do the following as part of their daily duties and responsibilities:

  • Manage teams
  • Project planning and definition
  • Coordination and supervision of project implementation
  • Organise your schedule.
  • Keep an eye on the budget.
  • Progress should be measured and reported.

Operations Management vs Project Management

Both operations managers and project managers work differently around the same specs. Let’s take a look at how they work in the different departments and variations of a company:


Operations managers are responsible for the budget of the entire department. This includes all costs associated with that department, such as salaries, cost of managing the workplace, maintenance costs, and many others. In contrast, a project manager is only responsible for the budget of the specific project.


Operations managers have to ensure their department or the overall company is running as per schedule. They liaise with different departments and ensure that deadlines are met and any delays are managed. Project managers have to ensure the project they are working on gets delivered on time by tracking the project’s progress, planning milestones, and pushing for delivery on the agreed-upon dates.


When it comes to staff, operations managers are part of the team responsible for recruiting people into the department, onboarding them, and allocating them to projects based on their skills, qualities, characteristics, as well as demand. They are also responsible for dealing with things such as absence from team members, leave applications and approvals, sick days and personal problems, absence from employees, and more. Project managers are not in charge of hiring or firing anyone. Their job is to ensure that their team members are performing well because any lack of competence from the team will fall on the project manager’s shoulders.

Understanding the main differences between the duties of project and operations managers is essential to ensure business objectives and processes are met.

How To Strengthen Each Career

Operations and project management jobs are now in demand, and digital skills are part of the reason for this demand. As either one, it is important that you arm yourself with the right and necessary skills to become hirable and competent in all your tasks. Consider taking up projects and operations management online short courses offered by the likes of UCT. Equip yourself with the right tools to make informed decisions within your department or on the project you are working on, learn all the basics of how to manage each department, and grow your career with online short courses that operate at a place you choose. Plus, they are affordable.

How To Get In The Job Market

If you are planning on joining the project or operations management career field and don’t know what happens after you have collected the necessary education and skills, the following are some of the tips recommended by hiring sites and managers across South Africa:

Project Management: Hiring managers look for project managers that communicate well, remain organised and level-headed, and showcase leadership skills. These are just some of the basic soft skills that successful project managers often have. You may also develop your time management, conflict resolution, delegation and problem-solving skills, so you’re able to speak about them to any hiring manager.

Operations Management: While the above skills also apply to operations managers, you must also have a strong grasp of collaborating with executives for strategic operations and planning, establishing goals and procedures for hiring new staff, designing and executing professional development and training for staff, and overseeing budget among other things.

Final Thoughts

A career in either operations or project management is recommended if you love keeping things organised, work well in collaborating and managing teams, as well as if you are passionate about overseeing the process of any organisation or project’s growth. After all, both work to deliver results. Consider giving your new, budding or already established career the boost it needs with the right tools.

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