Is it Manufacturing or Projects?

Definitions I am using for these:


Planned set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations.



The process of converting raw materials, components, or parts into finished goods that meet a customer's expectations or specifications. Manufacturing commonly employs a man-machine setup with division of labor in a large scale production.

I can suggest that in software development manufacturing translates to:

"raw materials" = requirements and specifications
"parts" = software libraries
"finished goods" = service/software deployed and serving customers
"man-machine setup" = configuration of environments
"division of labor" = dev and ops and qa, etc...
"large scale production" = lots and lots and lots of code

When I write "Software Development" I actually mean the whole cycle that includes lead-time from the point where some customer need is discovered, to the point of customer value created and delivered.

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    I am not sure if Projects is the right word. Consulting or Contract Work also do not convey the right meaning. What you are sort of asking is whether this is a Continuous Process or Collection of discrete Tasks, I guess. Jun 21, 2017 at 1:03
  • 1
    @JiriKlouda I needed to use some word to describe it. Which is why I also include the definition for the word that is relevant for the context of the question. Thing is, the rules that govern projects and manufacturing are different. In projects the whole project duration and cost can be managed and improved. In manufacturing the bottleneck defines the throughout of work. Different rules, different ways to manage each. But imho software falls into one of these, maybe. Jun 21, 2017 at 7:02
  • same question in economics SE: economics.stackexchange.com/questions/17272/…
    – Ta Mu
    Jun 21, 2017 at 17:36
  • Actually I would probably also add "services" as an option, but services are also either manufacturing (made to order) or projects. So I guess services is a level above this question as hierarchies go. Jun 21, 2017 at 18:37

1 Answer 1


According to Wikipedia

Manufacturing is the production of merchandise for use or sale using labour and machines, tools, chemical and biological processing, or formulation.


a project is an individual or collaborative enterprise, possibly involving research or design, that is carefully planned, usually by a project team, to achieve a particular aim.

Based on the definitions Software Development could both be seen as Manufacturing and a Project.

It could be seen as manufacturing from a deliverables perspective as Development activities mean that that the software is created, but does not guarantee quality. Therefore QA is required and to get it online Operations tasks are needed as well. In summary, Software Development could be seen as manufacturing as multiple specialisms are required to make the feature available for a customer.

It could also be compared with a project as the Dev team itself does R&D and creates a (software) product.

From a DevOps perspective I would advocate to compare Software Development with manufacturing rather than project as DevOps is about let work multiple specialisms together and not about creating silos like project.

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