Here at Teamwork, we love helping organizations improve their approach to projects. When businesses systematize and automate as many project elements as possible, organizations can use our tools to do more, faster, better.
But what happens when the problem isn’t the organization of the project but something about the business processes and workflows an organization uses to execute the project?
Project management gives us a few tools to identify problems like these on the project level. But it can’t improve workflows or workloads across an entire company.
Many organizations are turning to another discipline to identify these workflow and process issues at a larger scale: work management.
Join us as we discuss work management, how organizations do it, and what kinds of results and benefits it can generate.
What is work management?
Work management involves understanding and organizing work, usually across multiple teams and projects. It provides guidance, logic, and cohesion across levels, departments, and projects on how an organization and its team members should get work done. The term can also refer to the software and services that enable organizations to streamline business processes and bring structure to workflows, per Gartner.
Work management is more comprehensive than workload management, though the latter is a part of the former. Similarly, project management has a different scope and focus. Project management usually focuses on a single project at a time, looking closely at numerous aspects (like its project timelines, deliverables, and workflow structure). On the other hand, work management takes a broader look at how the work within multiple projects fits (or ought to fit) together.
With optimal work management strategies in place, organizations avoid collisions between projects, teams, or departments, keeping everyone moving toward the same goals. A work management solution can also help to identify redundancies at a larger scale than within a single project.
Breaking down the work management process
Work management can seem a little nebulous and wide-ranging, but it’s easier to learn when you break out each step in the process.
1) Work identification
During this phase of the work management process, organizations identify and define the work: What will this process manage?
The first step is defining the work, whether on a small scale or an enterprise-wide scale. This identification or definition should also include the broad strokes of how and when your team will complete the work.
And, crucially, you must clearly and centrally document all information established during this phase.
2) Work planning
Next up is planning out in greater detail how your team will accomplish the work. What resources will you require? How much time do the component steps need? Where are the dependencies and potential bottlenecks or choke points?
This and the next phase look similar to project management, at least at a glance. But remember the key difference: Work management takes a broader, more holistic view that isn’t confined to a single project.
From the work planning phase onward, work management will be far easier when you use the right digital tools. For initiatives this ambitious, a spreadsheet just won’t cut it.
Teamwork excels as work management software, giving you a central location to plan, schedule, monitor, and follow up on work.
On a related note, using resource management software or work management software will instantly set you apart from many of your peers. Despite the digital transformation happening all around us, just 25% of businesses report using PPM, or resource management software. Three out of every four competitors are still using spreadsheets! That gives you a great opportunity to get ahead.
3) Work scheduling
Once the scope and timeline are set, whatever work is in view needs to be scheduled out: Which tasks will be completed when, in which order, and by whom?
Work scheduling can be done weekly or biweekly (as is common in agile or scrum sprints) or planned out over many months. Today, efficient work scheduling apps are vital for precise and adaptable tasks and project management in our fast-paced work environment. For short-range initiatives, scheduling may even take place or be adjusted at the daily standup.
There’s no single correct choice of frequency here, but the nature and scope of the work included in your work management plan should suggest a longer or shorter period.
Similarly, work scheduling can be done using various systems or display methods. Gantt charts usually work well in a complex work management system, while on a smaller scale, Kanban boards or perhaps even to-do lists may be sufficient.
4) Work execution
With work identified, planned, and scheduled, it’s time to get the work done.
During this phase, team members complete the work assigned to them, using the work plan and work schedule as a framework and guide.
Similar to how a project manager shepherds a project along through execution, making adjustments and prioritizing along the way, a professional overseeing work management will do the same kinds of things during work execution. You’ll track progress, interface with stakeholders, keep an eye on morale and team collaboration, and take whatever steps are needed to keep the work on track.
5) Work follow-up
There’s something people say about the best-laid plans — and it definitely isn’t that they always work out exactly like everyone expected them to.
That’s why the fifth phase of work management is follow-up. Did people complete the work correctly, in order, and on time? Did the situation on the ground lead to deviations from the work plan that need to be either resolved or incorporated into the plan?
If work is falling behind schedule, if teams or individuals are facing roadblocks, if the critical path is disrupted — if anything threatens successfully completing the work, then this is the time to identify and resolve such problems.
6) Work analysis
Work analysis takes place during and after the work. Ongoing analysis happens during work follow-up, where you’re looking for operational impediments, process inefficiencies, etc.
But most of the time, you’ll engage in an after-the-fact or postmortem round of work analysis, too. Here you’ll evaluate not just whether goals have been met but the quality of the work involved.
Proper documentation and data collection are both essential to successful work analysis. All along the way, work (and the people doing the work) generates data that must be stored and categorized to be analyzed. And whatever the nature of the work, documentation is a given.
These are just a handful of questions that you should document as answers develop:
What processes did a team or individual follow?
Did those processes work?
Are they repeatable?
What policies came into being along the way?
Did anyone write them down?
Are they stored somewhere that employees can view them?
Here again, a proper work management software solution is key: it provides a stable centralized location for collecting data and for producing, collecting, and viewing documentation.
Try Teamwork today for your work management software and work analysis needs.
What are the benefits of good work management?
Chances are, if you’re considering starting work management, you’re probably already doing some form of project management.
So it’s natural to ask: Does work management really add enough value to be worth the investment?
Many times the answer is a clear “yes.”
Consider these benefits that companies with strong work management tend to enjoy.
Creates an adaptable work culture
First is the effect on work culture. Project management is a good first step, but it can get a little bit siloed: Teams tend to focus solely on their project, not on the broader goals of the organization or how their project fits into the bigger picture.
A project that’s otherwise perfectly scheduled out might fail to account for a shared resource (e.g., a designer working on two projects or a single physical machine that two departments or projects end up needing at the same time).
Work management goes deeper, looking at how an organization approaches the work. When you find something that isn’t working, work management seeks to fix that thing — in a way that meets the needs of every project and team.
With an approach like this, change is frequent. Over time, your culture will begin to adjust, becoming less averse to change — perhaps even welcoming it.
Work management is also adaptable and can boost your results across any management style or project management methodology.
Gives brands the ability to be more efficient
Good work management can make companies more efficient because it reveals weaknesses in how work gets done. Because work management runs across all projects and elements within a business, the discipline may find a particularly efficient process in place somewhere (say, a single project) that could boost efficiency on many projects.
The opposite is also true: What a single project manager might not be able to identify as an inefficiency may be crystal clear in a work management context.
Here also, the tech tools you use to engage in work management can seriously affect the efficiency gains you can achieve. You need a work management platform powerful enough to collect the right data and track the right metrics — and one that can quickly or even automatically implement process changes across projects.
Boosts productivity and increases customer focus
Work management aligns teams and even entire organizations on what’s most important: the successful delivery of products and services to customers. By stepping back from the more granular level of task management (“what task do I do right now?”) and analyzing the big picture (“what do our customers need and how can we give it to them?”), organizations find synergy and move together as one.
Fosters continual improvement
Because work management constantly looks at business processes, it allows organizations to improve those processes continually. This becomes an iterative or cyclical process, where even the work management processes improve over time.
Manage your teams’ work better with Teamwork
Work management is a rapidly growing discipline and approach that impacts businesses, even as the concept continues to define and refine itself.
While you may not know on day one exactly how you’ll use work management or what specific ways it will improve your operations, one thing is certain: Work management is better when you have the right tools.
Teamwork gives organizations like yours a central hub for planning, scheduling, reporting, executing, following up, and analyzing work. With dashboards providing a single source of truth and a central data collection point, your team can transform its business processes using data-driven insights. You’ll unlock greater efficiencies and find increasing levels of synergy as everyone works together toward the same goals.
And with a massive library of templates and integrations, Teamwork works seamlessly with your other work management tools.
Ready to take your work management to the next level (and reap just as many benefits in your project management)? Step up to a better work management software solution. It’s time for Teamwork. Sign up now!