From Frank Patrick’s multi-post about multi-project management and organizational effectiveness: Organizations are Multi-Project Systems.
Projects as the business. Drawing a distinction between production-based organizations and project-based organizations, the former is usually dependent on delivering a lot of copies of identical (or at least very similar) units of a product or service, with minimal or easily manageable uncertainty and variation of process. In production environments, the “touch-time” associated with an individual piece of output is usually very small compared to the total duration of building that output, as components tend to spend most of there time in queues awaiting attention or the setup of the machinery that will transform it in some way.
Project environments, on the other hand, are characterized more by uncertainty of expectations, greater variation in the performance against those expectations. Projects also involve larger chunks of “touch time” as a proportion of total project duration. If one’s business is based on directly “selling” the outcome of projects developed with a shared pool of resources, as it is in industries such as custom software and IT systems, consulting, construction, maintenance and repair, and engineer-to-build custom manufacturing, projects are “the business.” In such arenas, the ability to maximize the throughput of multiple completed projects is directly related to both current and future success.