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Letter from the CCO (Mar 2021): What is Work Management and Why is it So Important?




Do you ever feel like you spend so much time responding to ad hoc requests, it’s impossible to come up for air to think strategically about longer initiatives? You aren't alone. I’ve heard this referred to as the “tactic treadmill.” It feels impossible to catch up, let alone get ahead, because there's always something urgent that needs your attention. 

The good news? When teams are empowered to evolve from simply responding to requests, the work they manage can also evolve to be more proactive and strategic in nature. 

Gartner defines work management as "a set of software products and services that apply workflow structure to the movement of information as well as the interaction of business processes and human worker processes that generate the information.” 

In other words, work management gives meaningful structure to the work. It’s an ecosystem where the people, process, technology and data are brought together into a framework specific to your business objectives. 

While I’d love to say it’s just a flip of the switch to reach work management nirvana, it will take time. Here are some things to think through as you navigate this new world of work. 

  • How is work requested? Chances are high that work is requested of your team through a number of different channels. Before this can be streamlined, you'll need to audit your workflow processes and determine where there are opportunities for improvement. For example, how is planned work requested, vs. unplanned? Internal vs. external? Tackle this one process at a time so it doesn’t become overwhelming. 

  • How is work being fulfilled? Once you’ve streamlined and centralized the work intake processes, it’s time to define how work will get fulfilled. This step involves things like defining your resource requirements, outlining the various steps and activities needed to complete the work, and managing projects and timelines as efficiently as possible. 

  • How is work reviewed and approved? A huge opportunity for efficiency can be found in the time after work is executed, but before the project is officially complete. Think about it. How much time does your team spend manually chasing down approvals or looking for missing information in order to complete their work? When you define your specific approval requirements, you begin to shine light on opportunities for automation. For example, does a task need to be validated before moving on to the next step? Or maybe a project request needs to be vetted for data compliance before being marked complete. Put Workfront to work for you to limit unnecessary and manual human intervention with automated review cycles and workflows. 

  • How is work being completed and delivered? Make sure that project teams and stakeholders know exactly what is expected of them by defining what “done” means for each workflow. In addition to establishing accountability for completed work by way of roles and responsibilities, take time to celebrate, learn and drive improvement after a project is completed. Conducting effective post-mortem meetings is a great way to learn retrospective best practices. 

  • How is work evaluated? Just because a work item has been completed doesn’t mean it should fall off your radar. It’s important to assess performance of work so you can identify areas for improvement down the road. Measure performance with key performance indicators (KPIs) such as planned vs. actual costs, on-time delivery and turnaround time to give you the data you need to make better, more informed decisions on similar projects in the future. 

Evolving from request responders to strategic leaders of work management will take time, but we’re here to support you every step of the way. You can connect with other like-minded individuals right here on Workfront One, or reach out to our Customer Support team if you need any technical assistance or help troubleshooting. Changes may not happen overnight, but with practice and a determined mindset, it will happen.