The Differences Between Line and Project Management

The first difference between these two is that line or middle management is mainly about operational and to a lesser extent about tactical management. Operational management is about managing daily activities. Tactical management is the “layer” between operational and strategic management; “How do we get there,” is one of the questions the tactical manager is dealing with.

In that sense, the project manager of program manager for who manages various projects, is the tactical manager. He or she is concerned with the issue of transforming the organization to its future form.

The operational manager addresses most of its energy to directing people. Motivating, delegating, controlling, etc. in order to perform activities and gain results. On the short term the other resource categories are fixed.

The project of program manager is concerned with planning. How to prepare for the near future and reserve resources for doing this.

One important issue that is just rising between these two (operational and tactical) management areas; "should we close the shop during this period?" and "What will the client notice?" The dilemma is that in order to serve future clients you need to invest and focus on the long term that might impact the current performance. Clients will notice this...

Another important issues between these two is that the operational management receives most of the information. Information that is required for longer term projections and planning. But also information that is volatile. In small business management these responsibility are combined in the role of operational management. The challenge is the same; how do we focus on the longer term, not forgetting about the targets of this year.

For both situation the best solution is to plan: the budget for the current year should include the activities and investments that are for the longer term. The more you can plan for the near future, the more energy you save for current business issues.

In the mean time you should not forget that only the operational business defines the success for the future. Information about these two is like a critical success factor.

© 2006 Hans Bool

Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management advice. Astor Online solves issues in hours what normally would take days. You can apply for a free demo account

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