A project is a temporary endeavor. Its successful completion results in the creation of a new or improved product, service, process, or other result.
Being temporary means it should have a distinct beginning and end. In some project-based organizations, the temptation may be to drag the project on forever as a form of job security. The best job security, however, is being efficient at finishing projects and knowing your successful performance means you’ll always be reassigned once your current project is over.
Operations and processes just keep going on without a distinct beginning or end. An assembly line may be used to build a car from beginning to end, but as a whole, the assembly line is really a process that continually creates new cars over and over. If an inefficiency in the process is found, a project may be undertaken to overhaul the process, but once the new process is in place, it goes on with no planned end in sight.
Operations are important to the consistent functioning of a business. But don't underestimate the transformational power of a good project.