Work management differs from project management. Work management helps companies put procedures in place that employees follow to complete projects and tasks.
- Work management is the use of workflows to develop and distribute information in the form of individual and team tasks.
- Work management comprises project, resource, time, process and client relationship management, in addition to business intelligence.
- This approach improves the consistency and quality of employees' work across all departments.
- This article is for business owners and managers interested in using work management to guide their teams and improve product quality.
Research shows that just over 1 in 5 companies use standardized project management systems to guide their work. However, this same report found that more than 2 in every 5 companies that report poor project performance fault a lack of supervisor involvement as the cause of those struggles. But there's a twist: Project management is only one part of a comprehensive approach to resolving common business problems. Work management has the potential to solve many of the problems that companies often 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.
What does work management include?
Work management comprises the following six 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, then delivering 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. Time management is thus 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 they can include 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 customer relationship management 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 new initiatives based on your competitors or managing a department's performance.
Did you know? Work management includes project, time, resource, process and client relationship management, as well as business intelligence.
Why is work management important?
Work management introduces reusable workflows that your team can use time and again for completing 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 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 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. It follows that work management is project management, but in reality, the former is far broader than the latter.
Project management concerns one deliverable, even if that deliverable comprises 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. Manage this campaign requires dividing all ad creation, implementation and reporting efforts, and deadlines among your team.
Work management, on the other hand, 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 as mentioned above returns to you for work from your 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 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.
Key takeaway: Project management is a narrow, deliverable-focused portion of work management, which 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 pivoting away from project management toward work management, work management software can help. These tools eliminate the back-and-forth and navigational confusion that can accompany using numerous spreadsheets and digital file-storage platforms to track work. Instead of siloing tasks into different spaces, work management software houses all tasks, deadlines, resources and communications within one platform.
Common work management software features include:
- 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 need to ensure 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 timeclocks 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.
Given all the above features, work management software makes visualizing your employees' current workloads much easier. Work management, when done right, should improve your work on all fronts.