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7 work management best practices for the enterprise

Heidi Melin Profile picture for user Heidi Melin April 8, 2019
As the proliferation of digital applications reaches crisis point, Workfront's Heidi Melin outlines 7 work management best practices adopted by enterprises

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As companies race to digitize work, they’re too often doing it piece by piece rather than with a holistic view. One department adopts an application here and another department adopts a different application there – all without giving proper attention to how these different pieces of work come together across the entire enterprise.

Put another way, while digitization has brought seemingly infinite possibilities, it has also brought new pressures that today’s organizations are not equipped to handle. Pressures that add up to create what we might call the digital work crisis.

New tools enable us to gather more information and work faster, but they also add to the activities we have to track. As a result, it’s no longer enough to only manage individual projects. We must also manage the fabric of work itself, especially at the enterprise level.

We’re talking about the difference between project management and work management.

What’s the distinction?

Project management is about managing a set of initiatives, each with a start and end date.

Work management includes these initiatives, but it also extends beyond them to include all work across the enterprise at every level.

Work management gives the extra insight that enables knowledge workers to execute on deliverables, managers to execute on projects, VPs to execute on objectives, and executives to execute on growth. It also enables everyone at each level to see how their work rolls up into the company goals.

This requires new processes and technologies, including a system of record for work. Here are seven best practices to implement such a system – and some stories of customers making strides.

1. Find one place to manage work

More than anything, a system of record for work must show activity across all tasks, content, and conversations so each person can see at a glance all the work that touches them. This brings transparency to priorities, work progress, resources, and outcomes to empower you to orchestrate enterprise work with the precision and certainty you run the rest of your business. In this way, the system of record for work diminishes the pressure of the digital work crisis. For instance, ATB Financial implemented such a system and saw a 30% increase in productivity – with five times the information to track – and reduced the cost to manage a job by 60%.

2. Build for people

To fully address the problems that arise from the digital work crisis, all processes and technologies should be familiar and intuitive, able to effortlessly connect every team and organization. Of course, people who regularly use the system must have the power to configure settings to their liking. With front-line users in the business engaged, you'll have the ability to build cross-functional, connected workflows across an organization in motion. After implementing this system of record for work, Fender reduced time spent in meetings by 30–40%, and project managers eliminated two hours of daily busywork while significantly improving project visibility. That’s what can happen when the tech is built for people rather than getting in the way of people.

3. Keep using what you have

When the number of possible apps out there can be overwhelming, work management should connect all your technology across the company, allowing information and processes to flow seamlessly across teams, departments, systems, and locations. It should save valuable time through automation and multiply the value of your other platforms and systems as they connect with the platform to amplify productivity.

4. Move at a new pace

A true system of record for work brings together collaboration, content, and tasks throughout the lifecycle of work. This means the platform must be flexible enough to keep pace with constant technological change, including the tech of tomorrow. On this front, Citrix improved collaboration with 40 task owners across multiple organizations and teams that were evolving their technology needs, all while seeing a 50% reduction in time spent during compliance meetings.

5. Optimize for safety and security

Built-in security and compliance measures allow you to confidently audit your work, ensuring you maintain the enterprise-level control you need to safely operate in the digital economy. Put simply, there are certain tasks you don’t want visible to everyone in the company, especially if the tasks contain financially sensitive information. A system of record for work must be flexible enough to keep such information secure from those who shouldn’t access it.

6. See everything

The executive team must be able to see everything that’s happening across the company. This doesn’t mean that they will need to micromanage – In fact, just the opposite. It means that they will be able to see and deliver the results of the work that employees are doing so that they can pivot company strategy accordingly. Trek Bicycle achieved global collaboration and company-wide project alignment and then regained 30% of their time for innovation and improvement, after implementing work management.

7. Measure anything

The platform should contain a deep record of all work while delivering analytic-driven insights that empower you to analyze and optimize everything you do. Because you can measure anything, managers can see the results of knowledge workers, VPs can see the results of managers, and executives can see the results of VPs. Everything rolls up into the company goals so that everyone knows how the company is doing when it comes to fulfilling their vision.

With these measures firmly in place – both on the process and technology front – companies pave the way for full control over what’s to come and unifying work across the enterprise. In this way, they’ll effectively address the problems that surface from the digital work crisis, enabling a unified and streamlined approach to work management across the enterprise.

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