The differences between Project, Operation and Program



We said that a project is defined as a temporary endeavor that consumes resources, incurs cost and produce deliverables over a finite period of time to achieve a specific goal. They come in all shapes and sizes and can vary in length or complexity.

Operation type activities are similar to project activities in that they too produce deliverables, consume resources and incur cost. However they are on-going or repetitive in nature, hence they are not project activities or tasks. Some examples of operation activities are weekly maintenance of databases, paying invoices or help desk operations activities.

Programs are much larger than projects. They are made up of many projects and on going activities such as operation type activities and are similar to projects as they consume resources, incur cost and produce deliverables. However programs are more complex and include repetitive operation type activities such as maintenance work, facility administration etc, and are funded typically on a fiscal year basis. 

Projects in general are more time focused than programs.

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