Agencies know the importance of achieving their goals and meeting their timelines. It’s necessary to maintain healthy customer relationships and positive cash flow.
This feat takes managing your work consistently at all levels.
Projects can get stuck and falter without proactively planning, watching, adjusting, and following up. Project management tools are crucial in avoiding this stressful scenario.
Today’s article focuses on work management systems, why agencies should use them, and how to choose the best work management tools for your business. Once you read it, you’ll understand the benefits that work management systems provide to agencies and what you can expect to gain from using them.
What is a work management system?
At its most basic, a work management system is a business process plan. It holds a workflow structure with tasks, subtasks, due dates, and other milestones.
Work management systems encompass all levels in the company to help them align their processes and execute their initiatives with minimal issues.
The actual system management may need both people and technology to succeed, but a work management system is a roadmap of all the efforts to make a project successful.
Why agencies should use a work management system
Agency team members enjoy many positive results from using a work management system. It helps them maximize time and resources to get the most bang for their buck. It also streamlines processes and increases transparency and collaboration while reducing the chances of obstacles and bottlenecks slowing down progress.
From a broad view, a work management system gives teams a repeatable process that has worked in the past. While it may require slight tweaks, once agencies hammer out a workable system, they can use it numerous times. This benefit mitigates the need to start from scratch every time.
What is the difference between work management and project management?
They sound similar on the surface, and they both involve staying organized, tasks, collaboration, and tools to be successful. But there are slight differences between the two management types.
Work management focuses on how your teams work: your processes, workflows, and day-to-day tasks. Project management is a bit more granular. While projects are a part of your team’s daily work, project management focuses specifically on moving a project toward a tangible end: a deliverable. As such, project management deals with more rigid deadlines and schedules, whereas work management can change as needed to create more efficiency in your business processes.
How to establish an effective work management process (and understand which work management system you need)
Taking the myriad aspects of a project and integrating them into a system that enhances efficiency and productivity is the root of work management. Creating and executing a successful work management process is driven by key information about your company, project, and team. Here are a few important items to include on your checklist when building your work management system.
Identify the structure of your team’s workflow
This step requires asking how, when, and in what way your team will complete work. If you don’t answer these questions early in the process, you could build out a system that won’t function effectively. These answers help you prioritize task lists and visualize how one aspect of work moves into the other.
Plan and schedule out tasks accordingly
Take the big ball of work and start breaking off chunks. Each chunk is a section of tasks you must include in the team workflow. Use workload management to measure the time each of these tasks will take to create an accurate timeline estimate. You also need to include the people who will be involved and what their roles will be. Task management tools are valuable during this step.
Monitor and document your progress as you go
Remember when your 6th-grade math teacher asked you to show your work? Well, that premise is alive and well when you’re creating a work management system. Being able to reference how you arrived at your decisions and plans is just as important as the result.
Keep the information you’ve gathered during your process in a single location. Include your notes, conversations with other stakeholders, and the thoughts that drove your decisions. This intel will give you and others actionable insights the next time you’re involved in creating workflows.
Review work and refine the process periodically
Work management is not a set-it-and-forget-it plan. There are changing dependencies and additional resources that may arise. It’s crucial to never get comfortable with the process. Take the stand that you can always improve it and review it every so often to do just that. Down the road, new stakeholders, tools, or external factors may give you an additional edge to make your system even more efficient and seamless than it is today.
Main features of work management software
Work management software is a powerful tool for keeping your work management processes functioning and at top capacity. The automation involved saves time and decreases issues like data entry errors.
When choosing the work management software for your organization, make sure it provides the features you need to maintain your system efficiency. Here are some of the most important features to look for when choosing software for your company.
Overlook this feature at your peril. After all, if user adoption is low or non-existent, your work management software will do little to improve your efficiency and productivity.
During your search, look for direct, intuitive, and simple features within the software. For example, make sure an action that a team member could complete with one click doesn’t take four clicks.
Think about your users. Are they tech natives or beginners? For best results, gear your software toward the people using it.
Advanced task management
Task management is a big component of the system you end up using. This is because it’s difficult to manage tasks — especially when different people are tackling multiple tasks simultaneously. The best work management software will provide seamless solutions for three types of task activities:
Task scheduling: Your task management software should allow you to schedule tasks efficiently and quickly. Being able to assign tasks to team members, insert timelines, and prioritize them according to urgency should make your must-have list.
Task tracking: Once tasks are assigned, managers should have a way of keeping up with the tasks. Seeing which ones are moving forward and which are stalled lets managers know where to focus their problem-solving efforts to keep projects moving forward on time. There should also be a place in the system to comment and give feedback.
Task planning: Work management systems help to advance task management processes by laying every task out in an organized, easy-to-visualize way. To simplify task planning, your software should offer easy-to-digest tools like Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and high-level dashboards.
Team and resource management
Keeping team members on task and on budget can be a full-time job for managers. Work management systems have features that help manage on-site and remote teams and other resources. Sending notifications to check on progress, offering feedback, and addressing roadblocks are some notable ways work management software can manage the human elements of a project. In addition, it can encourage team collaboration with real-time and asynchronous features that keep every stakeholder engaged and in the loop.
Seamless communication and collaboration
Speaking of collaboration, it’s essential, folks. Projects suffer when team members toil away on their own little section.
It’s well known that communication is helpful to a project’s success, but it’s also difficult to attain. The State of Project Management in 2021 Report finds that, while 94% of people feel that knowing what team members are working on improves productivity and efficiency in business, only 42% say they find it easy to understand what their team members are working on at any given time.
A work management platform's centralized communication and improved collaboration features can enhance the team’s transparency and knowledge. Sharing information and updates within the system is easy, and it’s simple to access it whether a team member is one office down or across the world.
It's helpful to use a software tool that provides integrations to your other communication channels, like Slack. Integrations make it even easier for everyone to stay informed.
File storage and sharing capabilities
Saving project information across several apps and document storage areas is a surefire way to frustrate everyone. Worse, it'll make things a lot harder to find. Choose a work management software tool that provides a central location to store and organize your documents and images. Try to find one that offers a mobile app so every stakeholder can always access what they need, whether working in the office or from a mobile device.
There should be choices in the type of workspaces team members can use within the software. Technology people may want one viewpoint, while marketing may need another, and freelancers may need still another. Use a software system that lets stakeholders tailor their workspace to their focus and goals, as this will serve a wider range of your team members.
Data and analytics
Your work management software should have multiple methods for analyzing task data. Quantifying the team’s performance into analytics lets you track progress and tells you where they’re doing well and what should be improved. Reviewing analytics offers important insight into actions that will make future work even more seamless and efficient.
Using data to make changes and informed decisions is a wise business move that can elevate company performance and drive success.
Integrated time tracking
A time-tracking feature is especially beneficial for companies that employ team members who work remotely, either full- or part-time. Integrated time tracking lets managers track these workers’ hours and productivity without old-fashioned timesheets or time clocks.
If the work management software you’re using doesn’t offer it, there are several integrations with time management software that can glean the same information for you. Using time tracking lets you keep a handle on your team’s productivity and project overhead costs.
Benefits of a work management system
Being able to plan, execute, watch, and measure team tasks are the premise of the best work management software tools. Using a work management system offers companies a few distinct, measurable benefits.
Helps you balance and manage workloads
With a broad overview of everything your team must accomplish and the people accountable, managers can see who is overloaded and who needs more. This is especially helpful for small businesses with only a few team members on the project.
By creating a better balance, the to-do list is cleared off faster and more efficiently.
Provides real-time work flow updates
Knowing where you stand on tasks is vital for staying on track and reaching deadlines. Software that shows you up-to-the-minute progress, whether as a calendar view or on a board, keeps you agile and gives you the data you need to make adjustments, address problems, and keep the project moving forward.
Identifies bottlenecks and blockers
It’s realistic to build issues into your project planning initiatives because they’ll happen somewhere at some point. Minimizing them is key. While using spreadsheets wouldn’t automatically highlight potential issues, a work management system that boasts visualization tools will. Seeing potential problems early allows you to figure out a solution, so the bottleneck or obstacles doesn’t morph into an even bigger, prolonged issue that holds up your deliverable.
Improves communication and coordination
Forty-two percent of survey respondents say poor communication is their biggest internal challenge, according to the Revenue Marketing Report 2022. When work management software facilitates communication among team members, it helps them attain alignment and smooths the way for project success.
If everyone is in the loop, sharing updates, and brainstorming issues, the project moves faster with fewer unnecessary issues. With communication and coordination, tasks get finished on time, and everyone involved works more efficiently toward the common goal.
Boost your agency’s work management with Teamwork
Deciding on a work management system takes thought but is worth the effort. By employing and depending on the software tool, you can stay on top of tasks, increase collaboration, and meet your client deliverables more seamlessly, with fewer challenges and less stress.
Use Teamwork to manage your team, projects, clients, and freelancers in a central location. Our platform is built for client work — why use anything else?
Sign up today for free to start streamlining your workflows and maximizing your work efficiency.