People often think that operations management and project management software are the same as both offer goal setting, resource scheduling, budget management, reviewing progress, and revising strategy. So, businesses think they can manage their functions and projects with either option.

However, these solutions are not the same.

Here’s where the tools differ: Operations management software ensures smooth operations, which is essential for the success of your business. But it can’t guarantee that all team members will be productive and on-track with their tasks. For that, you need project management software. It lets you manage multiple projects and makes teams productive. However, it can’t ensure the smooth running of your operations.

Before you choose a software type for your business—whether it’s operations management or project management—thoroughly understand the differences between the two. Without this understanding, you could purchase the wrong tool and incur losses in productivity as well as revenue.

To help you understand the difference between the two software options, we’ll cover the following:

  • Differences between project management and operations management software
  • Key features of each software type
  • Which tools are suitable for small and midsize businesses?
  • More about project management and operations management software

Differences between project management and operations management software

In this section, we will cover the definitions of project management and operations management software. We also describe the key features of each software type and provide examples of a few popular tools in each category.

What is project management?

For those new to the term, project management is the process of planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and delivering a specific goal with a definite time, scope, and budget.

How does project management software help?

Project management software streamlines the process of managing and tracking project progress throughout a project’s lifecycle. The software lets project managers and stakeholders divide big projects into smaller tasks and subtasks, which are assigned to specific individuals with strict deadlines.

Task view in Zoho Projects

View tasks at one place in Zoho Projects

Here’s a list of the key features of project management software:

  • Task management: Create several tasks and subtasks in a project. Add task (and subtask) descriptions, organize tasks as per priority, assign deadlines and people, attach supporting documents, and comment on the docs. Automate the task workflows for recurring tasks.
  • Real-time communication: Communicate on individual or group chats to collaborate on projects in real time and avoid any delays. Also, use video and audio calls with text chats for better collaboration.
  • Collaboration: Use team discussion threads, project channels, and comments on tasks. Share, review, edit, co-author, and store project-related documents in a centralized online space to collaborate with team members in real time.
  • Reporting: Get customized reports with bar charts, graphs, and pie charts. Use these to track team and individual performances, project milestones, budgets, and expenses. View overall view project progress on the dashboard. Forecast project requirements such as required resources, time, and budget.
  • Project planning: Create and share visual project plans in Gantt charts with the team before beginning a project. Define the project scope, labor, and time required in the project plan to prepare team members and bring them on board.

Other notable features of project management software include time tracking, budget tracking, and resource allocation.

Which PM tools are suitable for small and midsize businesses?

There are many tools in the market that offer the features discussed above. We will discuss three popular tools featured in the Category Leader rankings (our list of the leading apps in the market based on numerous criteria) that suit small and midsize businesses (SMBs). (The detailed methodology is given at the end of this article.)

Wrike

Wrike is a cloud-based solution that supports project management and collaboration. It lets users create project plans, visualize schedules using Gantt charts, as well as collect and organize project requirements. They can also track work progress and be notified about work changes.

Wrike allows users to send dynamic request forms to their teams. These forms are auto-assigned and help users collect all the project information before beginning the project. This ensures that all the important information is collated in one place.

The tool is suitable for SMBs.

Gantt charts in Wrike

Gantt charts in Wrike (Source)

Avaza

Avaza is a cloud-based solution that offers business management features, including capabilities that support project management, collaboration, resource management, time tracking, and expense management.

Users can track time directly on tasks and create timesheet approval workflows. They can also track the budget allocation and spend for each project. The tool gives an overall view of resource availability. It also lets users add PTOs and holidays to manage resource allocation by scheduling and editing the tasks.

Avaza lets users snap and upload pictures of expense receipts on the go. Users can submit the receipts for approvals from anywhere using the mobile app.

The tool is suitable for SMBs.

Avaza projects dashboard

View projects in one place in Avaza (Source)

ProjectManager.com

ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based tool that helps users manage and monitor projects online. They can create, update, and share project plans with their team members, who can view their task list and know which task(s) to prioritize.

ProjectManager.com generates reports on the team’s workload to provide managers a view of the workload that needs to be evenly distributed.

The tool is suitable for SMBs.

Task lists in ProjectManager.com

Organize tasks in lists in ProjectManager.com

What is operations management?

Put simply, operations management is the process of administering, managing, and altering business practices to boost productivity and maximize profit.

How does operations management software help?

Operations management software helps businesses create, automate, monitor, and track business workflows to ensure smooth operations. The software supports production, design, quality control, inventory management, and inventory control.

Asset labels in EZOfficeInventory

Design labels for assets in EZOfficeInventory

Here is a list of the key features of operations management software:

  • Workflow management: Develop specific workflows that include approval steps and merge two parallel interdepartmental workflows. Create subtasks in the workflow, assign those to different resources in your departments, and notify the assignees about the task and its deadline.
  • Quality management: Handle the quality management processes using customized workflows that feature integrated compliance forms. Automate these processes to avoid manual follow-ups and reminders. Set notifications and prompts to alert workers in case of any compliance deviations.
  • Inventory management: Add, edit, and manage the information about your products, purchases, and orders from a central dashboard. Retrieve information about the product cost, images, quantity, and barcode any time. Track inventory costs, product surplus, or duplicates and manage returns and partial shipments.
  • Asset tracking: Track the movement of assets using the product barcode or RFID tags. Stay updated in case of loss or duplication of assets. Ensure that each asset complies with active service agreements, licenses, and contracts. Store asset data in a centralized location that is easy to access.
  • Business performance management: Track and analyze data from various sources to monitor the overall business performance. Review and revise your operational and strategic plans to manage business performance.

In addition to these features, other common features of operations management software include calibration management and vendor management.

Which OM tools are suitable for small and midsize businesses?

There are many tools in the market that offer the features we discussed above. However, we will discuss the top three solutions that have the highest average overall ratings, feature more than 50 user reviews on GetApp, and suit SMBs. (The detailed methodology is given at the end of this article.)

NetSuite

NetSuite is a cloud-based platform that helps businesses manage all their operations from a single system. The solution allows users to manage, streamline, and automate processes such as finances, inventory, customer relationships, and eCommerce. It also offers a self-service portal.

NetSuite’s global business intelligence capability provides users the ability to get one version of all your business data in one centralized place. Its reporting tools offer personalized reports on a web browser and mobile app.

The tool is suitable for businesses of all sizes.

Business operations dashboard in Netsuite

View all business operations in a dashboard in Netsuite

EZOfficeInventory

EZOfficeInventory is a cloud-based tool that helps businesses manage assets and control inventory stocks. Users can create purchase orders, service tickets, and custom labels with barcodes and QR codes. The tool lets them manage vendors, integrate RFID tags, perform scan-based audits, and get detailed reports.

EZOfficeInventory allows administrators to limit the visibility of certain items based on item group and location. They can add an approval step before letting employees reserve items in the system. This will ensure that too many assets don’t get reserved and everyone has equal opportunity to use the assets.

The tool is suitable for businesses of all sizes.

Asset list in EZOfficeInventory

Create an asset list in EZOfficeInventory

UpKeep

UpKeep is a cloud-based system for managing maintenance work orders using workflow automation. Users can easily create, manage, and update their work orders. They can submit work requests on the mobile app, maintain checklists, manage an inventory of the consumables, as well as track asset depreciation and warranty.

UpKeep lets you create work orders with predefined rules, ensuring that each order contains the right information and is assigned to the appropriate technician. You can automatically approve/assign work requests and approve/decline purchase orders.

The tool is suitable for businesses of all sizes.

Inventory list in UpKeep

Create inventory list in UpKeep

Which software do you need—and when?

Having read about the definitions, core features, and popular tools for each software type, you should have substantial information to choose the right tool. In this section, we’ll summarize the scenarios in which you would need to deploy each software type. Getting the right tool is vital in ensuring that your business thrives.

Project management software

  • When to deploy: To manage short-time projects that have a well-defined beginning, an end, and a fixed output.
  • What to expect post deployment: Project output will be based on the decided deadlines, budget, and project team.
  • Who does what: This is an HR-dependent function. Usually it consists of a project manager and a dedicated project team, which may be different for each project.

Operations management software

  • When to deploy: To manage the ongoing, recurring daily activities.
  • What to expect post-deployment: Consistently high output as a result of fixed operations practices defined by your organization’s annual budget and long-term deadlines.
  • Who does what: This involves a company’s labor and machines (for production and manufacturing). An operations manager and the whole operations team handle this function.

We hope the information in this article was useful to you and will help you choose the right software type. The next section gives a brief recap of all that we’ve discussed so far.

Recap: The difference between the two software types

Check out the below graphic to recall the basic differences between project management and operations management software.

Differences between project management vs. operations management software

Read on to discover


Methodology

Applications highlighted in this article were selected based on several criteria: the market definition, the Category Leader rankings, and suitability to SMBs.

As part of our formal research efforts, a series of market definitions are developed and leveraged across all our content for that market. These definitions determine an application’s suitability for the market under analysis. If a formal market definition has not yet been created, the individual analyst uses their market experience and knowledge to assess an application’s suitability for the category.

After suitability is established, the applications are analyzed against GetApp’s Category Leader ranking for that software category; this ranking considers user reviews, integrations offered, availability of a mobile app, media presence, and security features. Where a Category Leader ranking doesn’t exist, individual apps are chosen based on the highest average overall ratings. Each app should have a minimum of 50 reviews, written in the past two years, in order to qualify for inclusion.

Lastly, applications are filtered as per the business size using GetApp’s filtering tool to include options that are suitable for businesses that have 0-500 employees.

Note: The information contained in this article has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The applications selected are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations.

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