Follow the I4 Process Blog

 Subscribe in a reader

Enter your email address:

“In class when I mapped the freight process, I discovered that the operational process was not the main issue; instead we had some key decisions at the strategic level to consider. Back at work, I have already shared the maps I developed with others and I am developing some dashboards to collect data to focus our improvement efforts. Shelley asked some insightful questions that influenced my thinking and put me in a stronger position to demonstrate what needed to be done.”

Theresa Quinn Accurso
Director of Finance
Shure Inc.


Project Managers and Process Managers - Many Similarities But Different Focus

Can a Project Manager provide value to a BPM project?

Project Manager is a common term in business these days.  On the simplest level, a Project Manager can be an individual in charge of a plan that was developed on a ‘cocktail napkin’ or simple spreadsheet.  For a more complex project, the Project Manager can be an employee in the Project (or Program) Management Office, be certified in Project Management by passing the rigorous PMI test, create sophisticated work breakdown schedules using software and manage enterprise projects from beginning to end for the organization.  The kind of Project Manager I am talking about has responsibilities like the second type above, but may not always work on enterprise projects; instead he might work on medium or large projects as well.  

According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) a project is a “temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.”  And Project Management is “the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”   The PMBOK then goes on to say that there are 42 logically grouped activities that the Project Manager does in 5 Process Groups.

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

All of these Process Groups are relevant to BPI process improvement projects.  Initiating would correlate with the Getting Started phase; Planning would include some aspects of the Getting Started Phase and some in the Process Discovery and Process Analysis phase; Executing and Monitoring and Controlling would align with Process Discovery through Process Design/Optimization.  Here a “project” closes with implementation, but a process never closes; instead it continues as part of the ongoing operation and needs monitoring.  There is no element of Project Management for ongoing monitoring, since a project by its definition is temporary.

There are so many activities in Project Management that are similar to the activities of a BPM project.  These are highlighted in the table below.

The point is:  A business process improvement project is a PROJECT that models, analyzes, and improves a business process. But then the process continues once the improvements are recommended and implemented while the project ends. 

What role can a certified Project Manager best play in a BPI project? I think the best role for a Project Manager would be the Team Facilitator.  Most Project Managers have strong group skills and could facilitate a team well, although they would have to learn the skills and techniques of the BPM Methodology.  

It might seem that a Project Manager could be a good Project Lead for a BPI Project, as many of the  skills are the same, but the Project Lead in a BPI project has some different critical additional roles.  The Project Lead should be the chief subject matter expert for the process, the leader of the BPI team, accountable to reach the Process Owner’s goals, and be responsible for making  the new process operational in the workplace.  The Project Manager from the PMO would not have the SME expertise, would not work in the process, and would not be responsible for implementing the changes in the workplace.  I do not recommend the certified Project Manager replace the Project Lead; but, if the project is large, I recommend the team use both.  That way the certified Project Manager can focus on managing the project aspects of the work, and the SME Project Lead can focus on modeling, analyzing, and improving the process. 

A Project Manager could also play other BPM team roles. He could be the documenter, data person, or Maverick on the team as well.   But the mostly likely role would be Team Facilitator or co-Project Manager with the Project Lead. 

The Project Manager has the project skills needed for the BPI project, but not the content expertise.  It is these skills where he has the most to offer to the BPI project.

Be Sociable, Share!

7 comments to Project Managers and Process Managers – Many Similarities But Different Focus

  • Greetings! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe
    guest authoring a blog article or vice-versa? My blog discusses a lot of the same topics
    as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other.

    If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you! Excellent blog by the way!

  • I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog.

    I am hoping to view the same high-grade content
    by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me
    to get my own blog now 😉

    Here is my webpage: Marcia

  • I have been exploring for a bit for any high quality articles or weblog posts on this sort of house .
    Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site.
    Reading this info So i am satisfied to show that I have a very
    excellent uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed.
    I so much indisputably will make certain to don?t put out of your mind this website and
    provides it a look regularly.

  • This is the right site for anyone who would like to understand this topic.
    You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not
    that I personally will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a
    fresh spin on a topic that’s been written about for a long time. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!

  • Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I will send this post to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a very good read.
    Thank you for sharing!

  • Ankur T

    I really enjoyed the format of this blog. It clearly explains the similarities and differences in skills and responsibilities of Project Manager and Process Manager. As a Business systems Analyst, I am responsible for managing the projects as well. This information has provided me deep insight into what I need to learn to be able to work as Process Manager. Thank you for sharing this.

  • I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs
    really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back down the road.
    Many thanks

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>