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Projects vs Operations

Projects vs Operations

If you enjoyed reading this post, check out all of our post on PMP Concepts Learning Series.

Designed to help those that are preparing to take the PMP or CAPM Certification Exam, each post within this series presents a comparison of common concepts that appear on the PMP and CAPM exams.

Projects vs Operations

Work completed by an organization could be considered either operations or projects. Given that the PMP and CAPM exams are testing your knowledge of project management, the difference between projects and operations should be recognized.


According to PMI’s PMBOK® Guide, a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result”.

Using that definition, a project is temporary in nature, having a defined start and end date, and produces a unique output. Projects are conducted as a means to obtain the organization’s strategic objectives and are considered above and beyond normal organizational operations.


Operations, however, are the ongoing, routine activities that are involved in the organization’s primary business. This is the “keeping-the-lights-on” work, such as staffing management, payroll, product production, service delivery, etc. As such, operations includes all of the “normal” business functions.


Here at Passionate Project Management, our daily student management, writing blog posts, ordering course materials, paying the bills, and changing the toner in the copier, are part of our operations.

However, each time we develop a new training course, such as our PMI-ACP (Agile Practitioner) boot camp, we are working on a project: We plan our approach, gather experts, develop the course materials and exercises, and add the course to our class calendar .

Once the class has launched, it will be managed through operations.


Both projects and operations are:

  • Performed by people
  • Constrained by limited resources (such as people, money, equipment, and time)
  • Planned, executed, and controlled

However projects:

  • Are conducted to attain an objective and then terminate
  • Organize activities that are not supported under the organization’s normal operations
  • Are directly related to the achievement of the organization’s strategic plan

Whereas operations:

  • Are on-going and intended to sustain the business

See all posts in our PMP Concepts Learning Series

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