Work management vs project management: what’s the difference?

At first glance, the terms “work management” and “project management” don’t seem that different. But while both work and project management fall under the bucket of collaboration tools, this article will help you understand differences—so you can choose the right tool for your team.

Like all collaboration tools, work management and project management help teams work together. From chat software to email management to video conferencing, teams are using collaboration software to stay connected—especially in this time of increased remote and distributed work.

[Read: 3 ways to collaborate with a distributed team]

According to the Anatomy of Work: Remote Teams Survey, more teams are using collaboration tools than ever before. In fact, during the shift to distributed and remote work due to COVID-19, 62% of teams have increased their use of collaboration tools, and one in five employees (19%) are using collaboration software for the first time.

Collaboration tools help your team work together—but communication is only one element of collaboration. Project management and work management tools augment communicative collaboration tools and help you plan projects, coordinate work, and hit your goals.

Project management

What is project management? Project management is a way to tackle projects of all sizes. By defining clear deliverables and key milestones within a set timeframe, project management software can help you achieve a specific goal—individually or with a team.

“Accountability, visibility, and discoverability are advantages that come from proper project management and using the right tools.”- Joël St-Pierre, Head of PMO, Global Customer Events at Autodesk

Initially, project management software was developed so that one person—the project manager—ran the software to coordinate, assign, and deliver projects and tasks. Today, project management software is easy for any team to use. From Marketing Managers at Sony Music to executives at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, anyone can get started and get organized with modern project management software. With a project management plan, you can:

[Read: 11 project templates to start your work on the right track]

But project management is part of a larger system of planning: work management. So if you find yourself asking When should I use project vs work management?, think of it this way: project management tools help you coordinate individual projects, while work management sets up a system and process for all of your work, from day-to-day tasks to company objectives.

Work management

What is work management? Work management helps teams organize their workflows—whether it's a project, an ongoing process, or routine tasks. By bringing clarity and visibility to team members across all levels, work management helps teams hit their goals faster. With a work management tool, you can coordinate people and work across your organization, and make sure everyone has the information they need to do their most important work.

[Download: Work management ebook]

In addition to helping you manage individual projects, work management software helps teams manage processes that have no beginning or end date. And, with a work management tool, your team can get a bird’s-eye-view of how all of those initiatives connect.

With a work management tool, you can:

“It’s super helpful to have a high-level view of the milestones on all projects so we can connect the dots.”- Joe Moran, Director of Content Operations at The Michael J. Fox Foundation

Why your team needs a work management platform, not a project management tool

Project management tools can be extremely helpful if you’re creating a discrete piece of work. These tools help you focus your work and accomplish your goals. But to be an effective team at any company, you don’t just need to complete individual tasks.

With a work management platform, not only can you accomplish an individual project—you can also ensure that no work falls through the cracks by creating repeatable processes and dependable systems your team can use—not just for one project, but for all of them.

Beyond that, work management tools also connect an individual’s task to your organization’s goals. According to the Anatomy of Work Index, employees who have clarity on how their work impacts their organization’s goals are 2X more motivated than their counterparts.

[Download: Anatomy of Work Index]

Ready for work management?

Work management platforms like Asana help you gain visibility into your work, so you and your team always know who’s doing what by when.

We don’t just need clarity in our day-to-day—driving team cohesion and success requires a broader understanding of how your team fits in your company’s overall mission. That way, whether your team is temporarily remote, distributed, or returning to office, you can collaborate and get great work done from anywhere.

Learn more about Asana for remote work

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