Expand my Community achievements bar.

3 Tips for Quick Project Setup & Executing with Speed in Workfront




The world of work is a world of constant evolution and change. Some changes are incremental and can lead to something monumental over time. Other changes are monumental on their own and are thrust upon us.

I recently read a story in Jim Collins’ classic ‘Built to Last’ about Johnson & Johnson and how J&J started producing a talc powder in response to a physician who complained about patient skin irritation. Johnson & Johnson then started including a small can of talc as part of the standard packaging with certain products. Customers unexpectedly began demanding the talc powder as a stand-alone product and J&J responded by creating “Johnson’s Toilet and Baby Powder”. Johnson & Johnson got into the baby powder market by accident, but continued to iterate incrementally in the direction of consumer products, which eventually grew to 44% of company revenues. Johnson & Johnson’s story illustrates the monumental impact of incremental changes.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of workers around the world pivoted to a 100% remote work atmosphere. Companies adjusted strategies and corporate objectives in response to the ‘new normal’, and new projects were prioritized and launched to mitigate risk or capitalize on new opportunities. COVID-19 forced monumental change on most organizations whether they were ready or not.

In this article I want to provide you with three tips for quick project setup and execution in Workfront. How do you create new projects quickly when conditions change? How do you redirect your resources to execute with speed and agility? Time is of the essence when conditions change.

Tip #1: Minimize Your Task View to Just the Basics

When you are trying to execute with speed it’s all about three things:

  • What needs to be done?
  • Who is doing it?
  • When does it need to be done?

The Standard task view on a project was designed with project managers in mind who want to create formal project schedules. The Standard view includes columns to define task predecessors, duration, and effort. These fields are valuable for creating intricate project schedules or setting the stage for resource management, but if your users are not project managers by training or just want to get work done fast these fields can get in the way or cause confusion.

Consider creating a ‘Quick Planning’ view for your project leaders to outline just the essentials for getting work done - Task Name, Assignments, Due Date, and Percent Complete (to understand progress). 

Project leaders can always come back after the fact to add additional detail like duration and effort to drive resource reporting, but it’s important to focus on the fundamentals when you need to pivot quickly.

Need guidance on creating custom views? Click here.

Tip #2: Use Workfront’s New Timeline Planning Mode

Workfront’s 20.1 release included a new feature for quick project planning that is especially useful for planning and replanning project schedules.

Depending on the size and complexity of your project, updating the task list, especially dates and durations, can take longer than desired. Each task edit made in a project schedule results in recalculations to every other project task. Recalculations are being made to fields like dates, performance indicators, cost, revenue, etc. The larger a project gets, the more calculations have to be made and the longer it will take to save a change and move on.


To accelerate the edit process, Workfront introduced a new saving option when editing tasks in a list called Timeline Planning mode.


Consider the following benefits when using the Timeline Planning mode for saving your changes in a task list:

  • Workfront applies a new view (see tip #1 above), with fewer fields to your task list. This ensures you can focus on the most important fields that might affect the project timeline.
  • Submitting each change is faster than when using the Automatic or Manual save modes. This is because Workfront is minimizing the recalculations taking place in the background and ignoring recalculations to fields like CPI / SPI, cost, revenue, etc until a final save is made across all changes.
  • You can reverse your changes before you save them.

Timeline Planning mode is an option when changing the project plan mode from Autosave to Manual Save.

Tip #3: Consider Adopting a Kanban Approach

Managing work in a project plan is great when you have a deliverable or objective you are driving towards during a specific timeframe. But what if your work stream is more fluid and you need an easy way to capture incoming work and manage work in progress?

Consider setting up an Agile approach (specifically Kanban) for your team in Workfront.

  1. Create a team for your resources and set the team as an Agile - Kanban team
  2. Determine the best approach for your team to manage work intake
    1. Create a team project to serve as a backlog. Add tasks to the project and assign the tasks to your team to populate your Kanban board.
    2. Create a request queue and define a routing rule to automatically route to your team.
  3. Assign work to your team members and make updates from the Kanban board