I have been struggling with this question lately. What is the real difference between a Case and a Project? I have a certain set of conditioned responses that made me immediately assume they are of course very different but the more I look the more blurry the lines become. I’ll admit it is late and I have been working fourteen hour days but I now hold the opinion that a least from the perspective of the data, there is no difference at all. The project is in the eye of the beholder.
In one conversation on this topic recently I was challenged that projects are single occurrences whereas cases are repetitive. Several hours later someone else made the exact same argument but in reverse. I fully expect the PMI crowd to storm the Bastille and pummel me with Gantt charts but hear me out. What do they have in common?
Both are really time bound containers having fixed starting points and a linear progression to an end state. (think open to close and start to finish) Cases don’t appear to follow ordered progression but I am referring to STATE of the container not the flow of task execution.
Both contain tasks that can contain predecessors, dependencies, resources and there are common elements like calendar, events and milestones. I know you might say that cases don’t necessarily have these things. My argument is that they do – we just chose not to identify or manage them all the time.
The debate becomes oddly reminiscent to me of the structured vs unstructured data distinction I despise. Both are data but one confines the data to a rigid rectilinear construct while the other does not. Similarly projects might simply be thought of as cases where the entities managed are limited to those required to support the work break down structure and allocation of resources to task. I have a hard time though imagining a case management system where I would not want the option of applying these capabilities to every case.
There has been much conversation around the intersections of BPM, Case and Content Management and how the vendors bleed over into the others spaces. Maybe I just haven’t been asking the question in the right places but I don’t see project management coming up in conversation. The PM software space is comparatively mature but there are clearly basic project management capabilities that would enrich a case management if they were pervasive within the platforms.
Tell me what you think – Cases and Project – is there a difference or not?