Project Management vs. Work Management – What’s what?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pocket
Share on email

Project management and work management are terms people hear and use often, but they tend to be talked about interchangeably. This frequently leads to confusion as they are not the same thing. This article will give you a thorough explanation of these two concepts.

What is classic project management?

The difference between project and work management lies in the different methods that are used.

Project management (PM) includes organisational methods for non-recurring projects. I.e., these projects have deadlines. They are limited in time and are completed within this timeframe.

Project management is all about fine-tuning all operations that are part of a company’s project plan. The project is structured in such a way that a systematic approach is made possible and planning and monitoring of individual processes becomes easier.

Source: gruenderszene

Certain methods, such as planning, management and project execution, are commonly employed in PM. The project leader’s mission is to reach all project goals and milestones with his or her project team. The success of a project is defined by a clear goal. . That is why teams who work on such projects are also short-lived. In any case, it should always be ensured that the skills of the employees complement one another. Only then can a complementary project team come into existence. An example should clear things up:

Project Goal

Your agency has received a new assignment. For nine large clients, you will need to craft a complete marketing campaign and prepare a design for its product.

Project Structure

Every project includes a responsible person: the project leader. Let’s call him Marcus. He makes sure that everyone in the team knows what they are responsible for, that everyone supports each other and that all deadlines are met. Marcus starts preparing tasks for this project, putting together a team, and handing over these tasks to various colleagues. Larissa, Max, and Julia are tasked with creative brainstorming, thinking up ideas, and drafting the campaign. Barney is responsible for creating a suitable design.

Only by organising yourselves like this, can the team work on the project productively. Otherwise employees might interfere with each other, the same task may be worked on twice or a task may be completely forgotten about. Of course, the agency example chosen for clarification depicts an ideal situation. In reality, Max and Larissa also have a second important project to take care of, which then shakes the entire schedule. However, the right software can help with project organisation. After all, we know that such assistants are important for creating structure and for saving us time and time again from forgetting something important.

Project Management Methods

Ideally, every single team member working on a project knows who is responsible for what task at all times, thanks to the chosen method.

Gantt Chart

An example of a commonly used method is the Gantt chart. This is a special type of chart involving bars. All of the project’s scheduled activities are graphically displayed here. Using this method, one can properly portray a project’s progress visually. At the same time, it also serves as a good communication tool between project participants.

Critical Path Analysis

Another method is the critical path analysis. Project planning and management are organised with the help of this method. It shows the logical and temporal sequence of part processes, similar to a graphical presentation. In doing so, individual parts of a project are observed and arranged chronologically. Consequently, the critical path allows for exact time analysis, among other things.

Well then what is work management?

In day-to-day business, these methods are also helpful. Since there are work processes here as well that can be standardised. Project management taught us that we can work in a much more structured manner; so why wouldn’t we use this knowledge to better structure our daily working routine? For instance: in internal marketing, it would be helpful to discuss internal projects, subjects and deadlines, determine contact persons and to assign tasks to one another.

Work management (WM) takes the well-thought-out project management methods and uses them for day-to-day operations. The main goal here is not to complete a project, but rather to optimise the internal productivity culture. This includes daily work organisation, as well as trust in the processing of tasks, agreements between the individual departments involved, and meeting internal and external deadlines. The main principle is displaying important information about internal tasks clearly and transparently, allowing the team to work in a structured manner. Of course, this could also include recurring tasks, e.g., the newsletter that is to be written and sent to certain clients every week or month.

Work Management Methods – Kanban Boards

One of WM’s most beloved methods, is the Kanban board. It helps create clarity by making your workflow visual. Tasks are divided into process phases. Usually, they can be divided into categories, such as “to do”, “in progress”, and “done”. Every task must go through each of these phases. In doing so, it is immediately apparent where we stand. Knowing which and how many tasks are in what phase, allows us to plan ahead.

With the help of efficient work management, information transfer of individual business operations is improved, which means organisational challenges can be overcome more easily. Still, how can one exactly apply this concept in a company? To clarify this, we will use the agency example once more:

How can a team within an agency become more productive through work management?

Transfer of compact tasks is an important part of efficient work management. These tasks contain detailed information, deadlines, previous activities and contact persons. And so, Larissa from the Marketing team communicates with Tom from Human Resources using a work management tool. When dealing with a task, she will tell him when this task has been completed, whether or not there is feedback about the task, or whether or not the job posting has been released. Being able to store all relevant information about a task clearly in a WM-programme is especially practical. This way staff members can find any relevant documents, agreements and deadlines relating to the task themselves.

Let’s say we are dealing with the job posting, for example. In this case, one would find Larissa’s text, as well as Tom’s comments in a new document, within the appropriate task, in the work management tool. And so, the progress of the task, and which files belong to the task, is now clearly portrayed for Tom, as well as for Maria. Consequently, the whole process can also be understood by Larissa’s colleague, if Larissa chooses to go on holiday at some point. It is extremely practical, as it helps prevent the same tasks being performed twice.

A better overview and more transparency

One mustn’t forget that whoever is in charge also needs an overview of all projects and of the workload of staff members. In our example, it is immediately apparent that Larissa has a lot of tasks on her plate and thus cannot take up any additional tasks right now – this is not the case for her colleague though. Therefore, the new important task can be divided among employees who still have room for new tasks. Transparency must also be emphasised within WM. Everyone, including directors, knows what the task status is. The focus is not to monitor members of staff. Primarily, it is for the coordination of tasks. A task may potentially require additional help or a second opinion, which can be planned for accordingly and directly.
Work management helps prevent unnecessary work or even duplication of work. This makes daily work more reliable and transparent for yourself, as well as your colleagues. This is especially important for teams, since agreements are displayed clearly and transparently, and tasks can be worked on simultaneously.

What does work management look like in awork?

awork’s aim is to help you organise you and your team, and as a result to help improve your workflow. It is a work management tool that allows you to create tasks according to specific subjects in a structured manner. This is done through projects. It may seem confusing at first glance, but the idea and practice of project management has been kept and makes sense in everyday business. It is for this reason that awork divides projects practically, allowing you and your team to better organise your work and become more productive together.


In awork you can create projects, invite team members and start creating tasks within these projects, which you can then assign to the respective staff members. This makes it clear to everyone, who is responsible for what task. Another practical feature is the ability to upload documents or files to tasks, after which you can tag colleagues, allowing communication to take place within the task. As a result, your decisions concerning projects and tasks are always clearly documented.
To make sure you do not miss anything, you will also get an email whenever you were mentioned in a task. Not only that, awork will also message you and your team when any important news arises. Thanks to these smart notifications, everyone is aware of any and all urgent tasks. If you happen to be waiting for a colleague’s feedback, you can easily assign the task to that person. Your colleague then immediately knows that he/she is now responsible for this task.
If you want, you can very easily track your working hours in awork. This will help you get a better idea of how long it takes you to complete certain tasks. In return, this helps you plan better and become more productive. In awork, you can track time using the stopwatch, the drag & drop feature, or you can directly track hours in your calendar. You can even start the time tracker using the Google Assistant!
The practical Zapier integrations simplify team collaboration even further! This would, for example, allow you to directly create tasks in awork or integrate your calendar through a Slack channel.

No matter whether you are a freelancer, an agency or a company: awork is the smarter solution for work organisation and it is the work management tool of the future.

Remember

Projects are limited in time and they require a certain amount of structure and organisation to be completed successfully. This is why certain project management standards have been established to help implement this. Work management is based on the idea of project management but organises internal communication within a company. This implies the organisation of daily work, as well as trust in the processing of tasks, agreements between individually involved departments, and meeting internal and external deadlines. The main principle is that important information, that is necessary to improve the workflow, should be displayed clearly and transparently, so that a team may work in a structured manner.
If we organise ourselves like this, duplication of work can be avoided, and our day-to-day work will become more comprehensible and structured.


Other relevant posts

Stay up to date

Subscribe to the awork blog to be informed about new features and developments.