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Updated Jan 11, 2024

How Your Team Can Benefit From Work Management

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst

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Research shows that just 1 in 4 companies use standardized project management systems to guide their work. The same report named poor resource management and improperly implemented systems as some of the most common project management challenges. However, project management is only one part of a comprehensive approach to achieving business goals. Work management has the potential to solve many of the problems that companies attribute to poor project management.

What is work management?

Work management is the oversight and supervision of all individual and team tasks and task lists within one project or across a company’s operations. Work management comprises the following business areas:

  • Project management: Project management is perhaps the largest component of work management. It involves a project manager who coordinates and assigns work and deadlines and then delivers the results to clients.
  • Time management: Employees only have so much time each day to perform their tasks. To keep your projects on schedule, you must allocate tasks evenly among team members. Thus, time management involves dividing and conquering tasks. In doing so, you should respect employees’ work-life balance and not push team members past their work capacity.
  • Resource management: Resource management is the creation, maintenance and distribution of all of your company’s resources. Such resources can include tangible items, such as inventory and equipment, or intangible assets, such as patents or copyrights.
  • Process management: Process management involves the smart and considered use of resources. Unlike resource management, process management concerns resources only as they’re used for analyzing, measuring and improving business processes.
  • Client relationship management: While much of work management concerns internal operations, client relationship management encompasses all communication with current or prospective customers. Most companies use the best customer relationship management (CRM) software for this task.
  • Business intelligence: Business intelligence is the use of technology to collect and analyze data, thus resulting in actionable items. In the context of work management, business intelligence can involve implementing big data solutions that help you keep up with your competitors or manage a department’s performance.
Key TakeawayKey takeaway

Work management includes project, time, resource, process and client relationship management, as well as business intelligence.

Why is work management important?

Work management introduces workflows that your team can use time and again to complete tasks. Put another way, the more closely you guide the tasks of all your employees and teams, the more consistent your product’s quality and delivery timeline can be.

Additionally, work management often leads to workflows that can be applied to any task or team, rather than to one project or department. These workflows often reflect your company’s overall goals, so in completing them, your employees may come to better understand your business’s mission.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway

Work management matters because it makes your employees’ work more consistent and aligns it with your company’s mission and values.

Work management vs. project management

Work management and project management are often intermingled. This confusion is understandable, since, in business lingo, we often think of all work as comprising several smaller projects. But in reality, work management is far broader than project management.

Project management concerns one deliverable, even if that deliverable includes several additional deliverables. For instance, if a client hires your marketing company to execute a content campaign, the project goal is the completion of the campaign. To manage this campaign, you must divide all ad creation, implementation, reporting and deadlines among your team.

Work management, by contrast, concerns processes and structures that can be taken from one project, scrubbed of that project’s unique qualities and applied to another project. For example, if the same client mentioned above returns to you for work from your search engine optimization (SEO) team, work management entails using the workflow structure of your sponsored-content campaign to guide your SEO campaign. The deliverables may look different in pretty much every way, but the workflow remains the same.

Perhaps more importantly, work management structures can be adapted to fit internal needs, which is far more challenging with project management structures. That’s because the repetitive work that’s fundamental to work management does wonders for establishing and adhering to rigid internal protocols. The result, whether used for external or internal work, is that your teams can work faster and thus take on more work, thereby leading to company growth.

FYIDid you know

Project management is a narrow, deliverable-focused portion of work management that can be used to guide both internal and external work. Work management focuses on the organization as a whole, including how teams collaborate, and is designed to improve efficiency, capacity and quality.

What is work management software?

If you’re interested in moving from project management toward work management, work management software can help. These tools eliminate the back-and-forth and navigational confusion that can accompany the use of numerous spreadsheets and digitized processes to track work. Instead of siloing tasks into different spaces, work management software houses all tasks, deadlines, resources and communications within one platform.

These are some common work management software features:

  • Task management: Using task management tools, you can assign tasks to individuals or teams, set priority levels and establish deadlines.
  • Communication tools: Once tasks are created, you must ensure that your team is working on them. You can ask questions, request updates or add more guidance through task comments or message board conversations, all of which trigger notifications for your team.
  • File storage and sharing: Instead of using valuable cloud storage space, you can upload relevant files directly to the appropriate tasks in your work management platform.
  • Time tracking and management: Many work management software platforms include time clocks or other tools for tracking the time spent on a project or at work in general. Time reports may also be available, depending on the software and service plan you are using.

These features of work management software make it easier to visualize your employees’ current workloads. Work management, when done right, should improve all aspects of your work.

The best work management platforms

Just as when you’re choosing project management software, identifying the right work management platform means considering your business’s size and pain points. Making this decision also requires you to determine whether the platform can scale with your business and how easily you can navigate and use it. 

The following work management platforms provide an excellent user experience and help businesses of various sizes address numerous work management challenges.

  • Asana: You can use Asana to create the same structures for deliverables and task delegation across all of your projects and clients. Asana also includes features for assigning tasks, setting deadlines and communicating with team members about progress or important updates. With file attachments available for each task, Asana gives your team the resources and workflows they need to achieve success.
  • The work management suite is well known for its robust automation abilities. You can also access high-quality reports that put dollar figures to your team’s progress. Plus, also ranks among our picks for the best HR software and the best email marketing software.
  • Airtable: With Airtable’s work management software, you can create customized workflows, streamline processes and more. The platform displays the status of each task, each team member’s volume and other core insights. The approval features, as well as Airtable’s shared vendor databases, keep your tasks flowing smoothly across all of your projects.
  • Jira: Another standout for workflow automation, Jira includes templates for quickly creating highly efficient processes. You can also connect issues and tasks to uncover task dependencies, leading to smarter planning for your future projects. 
  • Wrike: The Wrike work management suite includes Gantt charts and Kanban boards so you can give similar structures to all of your projects. It includes customizable templates for different types of projects, such as IT, creative and marketing. You can create data-rich reports built on several key performance indicators and other metrics.

Managing work to achieve success

Successfully replicating the same workflows and structures across projects makes for more repeatable, consistent processes. That’s work management in a nutshell: When you travel the same types of paths for different projects, you’re more likely to achieve each goal. Even though the projects are different, if you move along these paths in similar ways, you’ll manage your work with insight.

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Max Freedman has spent nearly a decade providing entrepreneurs and business operators with actionable advice they can use to launch and grow their businesses. Max has direct experience helping run a small business, performs hands-on reviews and has real-world experience with the categories he covers, such as accounting software and digital payroll solutions, as well as leading small business lenders and employee retirement providers. Max has written hundreds of articles for Business News Daily on a range of valuable topics, including small business funding, time and attendance, marketing and human resources.
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