Understanding the Difference Between Tasks and Process

difference between job task and process

From your local grocery store to Microsoft headquarters, there is one commonality between all types and sizes of businesses. Processes. Business operations are made up of several processes that work in sync with business outcomes. A lot can be learned about the business by looking at daily processes. The most effective way of improving business operations and outcomes is to improve the efficiency of business processes.

The terms process, job, and task are used interchangeably in the business world. Is there a difference between task and process? Read on to understand tasks and processes and their differences and commonalities.

What are Tasks?

Project management is all about task and process management. A task management in a project may be defined as an action with a specific accomplishment in one stage of the process. Tasks are everywhere in a business; they are steps that need to be executed for the process analysis to function as designed.

In computer programming, a task may be defined as a unit of work being executed. A task is a sub-part of a job. Several tasks together form a job. A task may be referred to as a thread sometimes.

For example: when we run a thread in Java, it is called a task. A printer printing a document is said to be executing a printing task. When several tasks are performed together, it is referred to as multitasking. Multi-tasking is also referred to as time-sharing.

What is the difference between a job and a task? A job is a complete unit of work under execution. A job is made up of many steps or tasks that are executed as batches. A program is written to run a job. Although job and task manager are used synonymously in computational work, they both mean different things. When there is only a single job, it may be referred to as a task.

Work is another term that is often used interchangeably with the terms job, task, and process. Work may be defined as an event that is happening. Work also means employment, occupation, and labour as per specific contexts. The comparison of work vs task may be done in terms of the purpose and duration. A task has a single, specific purpose, while work has multiple purposes. The duration of a task is specific, while work is continuous by nature.

What are Processes?

A business process is a set of tasks that are executed to achieve business outcomes. The input to a process is raw materials and effort, while the output is usually a product or service. Employee productivity and long-term business growth are determined by how well business processes are managed.

Business processes are the core upon which a business operates. Having a well-planned and implemented process offers several advantages, like:

Streamlines operations:

a clearly defined process streamlines business operations by cutting out redundancies and repetitions

Saves time and effort:

mapped business processes have well-defined roles, which enables smooth execution of processes saving time and avoiding duplicate effort

Minimizes opportunity cost:

a clear process design frees up time for employees. This time can be utilized in performing more productive work, thereby, reducing the opportunity cost

Improves operational efficiency:

when the project and department teams are clear about their roles, there is no wasted or duplicated effort or redundancies. Operational efficiency is more in a clearly defined process workflow.

The definition of job and process is very similar. Both processes and jobs are a set of tasks performed to accomplish specific outcomes.

Difference Between Task and Process

The concept of job, process, and task revolves around each other. The job vs task vs work vs process comparisons depends on the context they refer to. In computer terminology, a process is an isolated entity of an operating system. A task may be called a process if it is a single isolated task. While a job may be called a task if the job to be performed is a single unit of work.

In the context of business operations, a process analysis consists of several tasks that are performed to achieve a single objective. A project is usually divided up into a sequence of individual tasks, each task having specific deadlines.

What is the difference between a job and a process? The task vs. process comparison in business operations may be done based on the scope, duration, and intent. Business processes have a wider scope of accomplishment, while tasks are smaller units of work with a smaller scope. Processes take a longer time to complete when compared to tasks. Processes are usually aligned to the overall organizational goals, while tasks are aligned to process improvement objectives.

What is Task Management?

Tasks are an integral part of business operations. Relying on manual methods to execute tasks may not work at all times. Especially the repetitive and data intensive tasks are better off when automated. Efficient task management is what brings out the best results from each task. What does task management entail? Task management is essentially the process of breaking down a process into smaller tasks or grouping similar tasks into groups, which makes them manageable entities. The most important aspect of task management is prioritizing them on an ongoing basis. 

Efficient task management also provides teams with the ability to keep track of which tasks have been completed and which are pending. For instance, if there is a project that requires repetitive daily tasks, then good task management would allow the individual to stay informed on what needs to be done. The best example would be financial reports that are run on a daily basis in several steps, and at the end of the month, a month-end report pulls data from the daily report to generate the month-end report. In this scenario, tasks would be running different reports required on a daily basis, keeping up with data, and pulling it into a larger report at the end of the month. 

Let us consider another example of where task management is utilized on a larger group project. When the project begins, tasks are divided among the group members. Here, task management involves keeping track of who is doing what at all times. Keeping track of work process and resource statuses is important because it eliminates overworking or underutilization of employees. Task management provides the means to openly track who is working on which tasks, which is important for efficient project management. 

What is Process Management?

Processes are the lifelines of business operations. Smooth and efficient running of processes is essential for hitch-free operations. And for that you need an efficient process management solution. A business process has been defined in the above sections as a series of tasks/steps taken in order to achieve specific business goals. Processes are not restricted to the business sense alone, in fact, everything in life entails a process. From simple things like registering travel expenses to complex work like the creation of customized quotes for one-of-a-kind products – everything involves processes. 

When there are processes, you would need a way to manage them. Process management involves all those activities undertaken to manage processes. Process management involves prioritizing processes, monitoring their progress, and documenting the results. Let us take the example of registering travel expenses. The process could involve adding a description and all the required information pertaining to the travel, uploading the receipts, notifying the approver, waiting for the result of the review, and finally getting paid upon approval. So the travel reimbursement process requires efficient management and coordination between these tasks, which is nothing but process management. 

Let us take the example of a more complex process like creating customized quotes for unique product rollouts. This process could involve receiving the quote request, confirming the receipt of the quote, starting the costing on a custom item, and requesting freight for shipping. There could be several other sub-tasks that are involved in the process of creating a custom quote. Process management may simply be defined as the approach used to strategize and align processes within the organization. 

Take the procurement process for example, process management is a must for ensuring that the team stays updated on all procurements and tasks are not lost or missed along the way. The process management approach ensures that effective business processes are followed, measurement systems are established, and system users are educated so that they can manage operations effectively. 

Difference between Task and Process Management

Similar to the task vs process debate, the task management versus process management debate is also worth considering. Task management is a task-oriented approach to managing work. The focus here is more on completion of discrete, self-contained, and independent tasks. Completion of individual tasks is isolated from each other, and they do not necessarily have an end goal in mind. 

Process management on the other hand has a wider scope than task management. This is a process-oriented approach to work management. It is a process of managing tasks that are interconnected and interdependent. Processes are the steps that need to be accomplished to achieve a larger objective, and they are generally iterative and recursive. Processes are often mapped out in detail before any work begins so that everyone involved knows what needs to be done when it needs to be completed by whom. 

Both task and process management have their uses, pros and cons. Task management is more relevant when there are a few tasks that need to be completed, while process management is more useful when there are many interconnected tasks. Task management may be visualized as micro-steps to a process. 

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What should you choose – Task or Process Management?

Now comes the question of suitability – task management or process management? The choice between these two management approaches is entirely contextual. For example, if a role requires continuous tracking to stay on top of processes for projects, it could cause strain on the team to always remember where the last step in the process was completed. Having a business process flow would however enable smooth continuity in process management. A process workflow pattern links workflows to processes and facilitates road-mapping business processes for a deeper understanding. So, a role that requires continuous follow-up with various parties, then a workflow pattern would be the best guide to understand what has been done and what the next steps are. 

The best approach, therefore, would be to combine process and task management for better outcomes. Once a business is empowered with process and task management systems that complement each other, the outcomes are much more productive and efficient. While combining these two approaches, the team must avoid multi-tasking and choose the right software that combines these two approaches.

Automating tasks and processes

Optimized business operations require streamlined business processes. Process workflow automation is an efficient way of streamlining business processes. Automated workflows are devoid of process bottlenecks, delays, repetitive tasks, redundancies, and inaccuracies. Resource utilization is optimal in automated workflows. Accountability and transparency are better in automated workflows when compared to manual workflows.

Cflow is a cloud-based workflow automation solution that automates business workflows quickly and efficiently. To explore insane levels of process automation, sign up for a free trial of Cflow.

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