As the pace of digital innovation has accelerated, many organizations have found it harder to manage the portfolio of work conducted by the workforce to ensure timeliness and mitigate the risk of increased costs and resources. The challenges in managing the work related to project plans are not only to ensure the timeliness in performing and tracking the individual tasks and activities every single moment of the day, but also having the intelligence to adjust and guide all future work. The advent of work management is a systematic approach to prioritizing work and optimizing resources to perform at the desired levels. It requires dedicated applications designed to continuously monitor and streamline activities and processes in ways traditional spreadsheets and project management systems cannot. Ventana Research asserts by 2024, one-third of organizations will deem existing project management and work experiences ineffective to engage or motivate the workforce to be productive.
We at Ventana Research define work management as a unified process to plan and execute work with activities and tasks using the allocated resources available. The variety of resources needed can be complicated to manage, as they include people, assets, technologies, facilities and even real estate. Each category has unique characteristics, so how they are used for work must be carefully planned and executed. Combining formal and informal ways of working in a framework that the organization uses to optimally manage its resources, conventional project management software cannot accommodate the flexibility this requires because it is rigidly structured and is unable to adapt to how people actually work. In contrast, more recent work management applications can respond to change efficiently and help increase the effectiveness of the organization. The use of work management is not only valuable to inside and within your organization but also essential for where you work with external constituents including contractors, customers, partners and suppliers. For example, engaging with customers and partners - from onboarding to operational work – and the respective organizations and parties involved.
A unified set of activities and tasks within an application to manage work and resources can help managers communicate strategies and objectives related to plans. Our benchmark research on next-generation business planning finds that fewer than one-half (45%) of executives do this well or very well. In addition, most do not communicate in a timely fashion. Organizations that communicate about plans annually, rather than quarterly or monthly, cannot respond to changing circumstances as quickly, which undercuts the productivity of the workforce. Work management also helps workers focus on the important parts or priorities in their jobs and apply their skills fully to where it is needed the most. It thus enables organizations to be more agile and can help them gain advantages over less nimble competitors.
Such an approach can empower and guide managers and workers to make wise choices about planning and assigning work – choices that achieve organizational goals. For managers, the need for insights about resources and availability is essential to know how to adapt and guide the path of projects and programs to inevitable success. They are able to identify changes in work patterns and priorities that are needed to attain optimal performance. Only about one-fourth (28%) of organizations in our research reported that they are able to review project plan details during meetings or immediately afterward; the balance takes longer to do so. Similarly, only about 1 in 4 (26%) can compare actuals to the plan within three business days. For effective planning, the ability to compare actuals vs. plans should be available at any time – it should not take longer than three days, but that is the situation for almost three-quarters (74%) of organizations. Systematically improving the ability to compare actuals to plans can have a significant impact to ensure continuous optimization of everyone’s work and resources are being utilized.
Plans today cannot be static project documents; to be effective they must be dynamic and flexible and involve teams assembled across lines of business to yield outcomes that address the organization’s goals. For example, plans developed and shared flexibly across marketing, sales and customer service departments can increase efficiency in anticipating customer needs and ensuring customer satisfaction. Having such plans can enable the organization to better adapt to the realities of work today.
Integrating work plans across lines of business is easier when all use a common framework. Here, also, most organizations can improve their performance. In our research, one-third or fewer said that they integrate project plans well or very well with those created in the lines of business, while a larger percentage said they do this just adequately. Managing work efficiently is critical to providing high levels of customer service for the company’s products and services.
Many organizations do not manage work systematically; they have an array of disparate processes and applications that undercut productivity and create barriers to serving customers well. For example, organizations that organize task management via email and outlook or use spreadsheets for timeline management, and have a separate reporting tool for measuring achievement, continually waste substantial time in attempting to integrate these disparate systems and the data they contain. It is essential for organizations to gain consistency across lines of business and consolidate to simplify the technology that is used. Ventana Research asserts that through 2025, two-thirds of organizations will standardize on collaborative and task-oriented work management applications to ensure the portfolio of business processes and resources are utilized effectively. Examine work management to engage workers across your enterprise but also the processes that interact with your contractors, customers, partners and suppliers that encompasses the business processes that are essential for your and their success.
To eliminate impediments to effective work and productivity, organizations should examine how they can unify work management and better utilize resources in the tasks they execute, and the intelligence needed to manage the dependencies required to reach critical timeframes. Organizations should look to have intelligence about work and the potential impediments that impact outcomes as just automating projects is not the only path to help operate more efficiently. By developing more effective capabilities to plan and define activities and conduct tasks, and having knowledge of available capacities and resources, organizations can achieve the level of readiness to reach expected outcomes from work management.