27 Sept 2021

What is work management?

In their Information Technology Glossary, Gartner, defines work management as; “a set of software products and services that apply workflow structure to the movement of information as well as to the interaction of business processes and human worker processes that generate the information.” They also state that; “work management streamlines and transforms crucial business processes and thus can improve results and performance”.

So it sounds like work management is pretty important, right? It lets you manage individual’s, team’s and even whole organisations’ workloads and workflows, while keeping everyone informed of everything that they need to know. And without this, your efficiency, productivity and indeed the quality of your output, is reduced.

What’s the difference between Work Management and Project Management?

You might be thinking, isn’t this just the same as project management that I’ve been doing for years? And it’s not an unreasonable question. But there is one big difference between the two.

Work Management permeates every aspect of your organisation, from processes such as budgeting, down to resource, project, task and time management. With great work management, you get total visibility over how each of these aspects are connected, how your team can tackle their individual tasks and how your organisation can move towards your goals. Great work management provides a structure to the workflow so that teams can work more efficiently.

Whereas project management looks at, well, one project at a time.

The process of work management involves 6 steps:

  1. Identifying the work
  2. Planning out the work - how long it will take and who is needed to complete it, which tasks are dependent on another to be done first,
  3. Scheduling the work
  4. Completing the work on time
  5. Following up to make sure nothing has been missed
  6. Analysis of the work and the process to complete it

Applying the right methodologies to Work Management:

Waterfall:

Waterfall work management consists of mapping out a project into different, sequential phases, with each new phase beginning only when the prior phase has been completed. The waterfall system is the most traditional method for managing a project, with team members working in a linear way towards a predetermined end goal. In other words, you deal with one task at a time and once that is completed, you can move on to the next.

Agile:

The Agile approach to work management is a methodology based on iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between organising and cross-functional teams. This type of approach is great if your work is liable to change.

APF (Adaptive Project Framework):

Also known as adaptive project management (APM), this is an iterative, adaptive, and agile approach designed to deliver maximum business value to clients whilst remaining within the limits of their time and cost constraints. With an APF methodology, the scope of work is always variable and will be adjusted at each iteration, as change is understood to be inevitable.

Prince2:

Prince2 is a process-based approach to work management that focuses on organisation and control over the entire process, from start to finish. That means that work is thoroughly planned before kickoff, each stage of the process is clearly structured, and any loose ends are neatly tied up after the work concludes.

So work management is important, but why is it so difficult to get right?

The answer to this age old question (ok, probably not that old, but still relatable right?!) lies within the planning and scheduling steps of the work management process.

Planning

When you’re planning out your work you probably plan project by project, mapping out how to get each one sorted, right? So you need to take into account;

What tasks are there across the projects?

How long will each task take?

Who would be best suited to each task?

What’s the deadline for each task?

Are there any dependencies between tasks?

Obviously you’re a planning wiz and you deal with all of these things using your expertise and experience of your organisation. But unfortunately, it’s still just your best guess. How do you stop stakeholders, clients or customers from changing the goal posts, meaning you need to add more tasks? And the product build which usually takes about 10 hours has an issue and now it’s taking 20 hours instead. But that means that the review task which is dependent on the product build being finished can’t start, the deadlines won’t be reached and you need to re-plan it all again. Your guess was good, but things change and there’s always unforeseen circumstances.

Scheduling

Then it comes to scheduling your perfect plan for each project in and around all of your other work. You need to consider all of the things you thought about whilst you were planning, and more;

What other aspects of work life are going on for your team?

Are other projects running past their deadlines?

Are there meetings that need to be accounted for?

What team members have time off?

But you’re amazing, and great at problem solving so you’ve taken all of this into consideration and got your plan all scheduled and you’re ready to rock and roll on Monday morning. Then Monday morning comes around and… one team member (or many team members thanks to this pandemic) isn’t feeling well and can’t come to work. You spend another hour rescheduling their work and shuffling things around, you make it to 11am and then… another meeting pops up (we all know that they do!) for one, two, maybe even all of your team. Then that hour that you had them scheduled to work on a task is out of the window and there’s no way they can stick to your schedule today. You tried your best but it would take a machine to adapt to all the changes of work life quickly enough to always keep everyone on track perfectly!

Don’t Work Management methodologies solve these problems?

We hate to tell you this but, even your extremely sound work management methodology is still dependent on your best guesses.

Waterfall:

You can’t start the next task until the previous one is finished, but how do we know how long that first task will take? It’s an estimate, an educated one, but at the end of the day, it’s never certain.

Agile:

It’s designed to be iterative and adaptable to change, but we are still only guessing and you really need to be ‘hyper-agile’ to make things work effectively.  Agile methods are not great outside of software development!

APF (Adaptive Project Framework):

Another methodology with change understood as standard, but with clear goals in mind, how can we stop our plans from going way over schedule in order to accommodate change.

Prince2:

Thorough planning before things get going sounds great, but it’s not what it says on the tin. Everything changes, all the time, so how can you plan thoroughly, before those changes have even happened?

Could life be better?

We don’t know about you, but all that planning, scheduling and problem solving, just for things to change and need to be manually re-adjusted, sounds exhausting. Guess-planning like this takes a lot of brain power, over and over again. Every. Single. Day.

Granted, guesswork has got us this far, but we could always be doing more. So we have. We’ve done more, so that you can plan less.

With Planless, you can simply define the skill required and the effort needed to perform a task and the best plan will be calculated for you, no guessing required. Even when things change! Our Intelligent planning means that if anything changes along the way, you can just let us know and it will adapt and recalculate your schedule in milliseconds!

You can Do More and Plan Less.