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Paige Erickson: Is project management keeping work siloed?

By Paige Erickson, Managing Director, EMEA, Workfront

One of the biggest questions keeping business leaders up right now is whether they should be preparing their staff to return to the office next year or simply embrace remote work long term. But that is the wrong question to ask about the future of work. It’s not where we work that’s critical, it’s how we work. Enterprises need to consider how they can holistically manage the outcome of work, wherever their people are.

Enterprises have raced to digitise all their operations—to allow teams to communicate, collaborate, organise tasks, and manage projects—while working remotely. In most cases, the technology supporting these activities is deployed at the individual and team level, meaning different collaboration and task or project management tools are used by different teams, and sometimes different functions in the same department. And while allowing teams to choose their own tools can bring short-term benefits, the practice can also create silos if those tools and the data they generate aren’t connected.

Instead of encouraging collaboration, this fragmented approach to project management can create added pressures for both employees and leaders charged with delivering on the strategic objectives of the business.

Stop managing projects. Start managing work.

Project management software helps manage projects with clear objectives, defined timelines, and distinct roles. Prior to the pandemic, digitisation and globalisation of business were already challenging this linear way of working.

COVID-19 added fuel to the fire, insisting that companies support a distributed talent, partner, and customer ecosystem characterised by a non-stop flow of work requests, interruptions, and overflowing inboxes. This understandable chaos is colliding with the need for companies to become even more focused and efficient on the most important work. Traditional project management tools with their linear approach were simply not designed for the digital age—let alone a disruption that continues to challenge nearly every norm.

Without a singular view of work across teams and departments, it is impossible for leaders to know whether, or how, work is progressing against strategic objectives, how to effectively plan and manage resources, or how to identify and mitigate roadblocks. The problem is only getting worse as more high-value work becomes digital and workers continue to work nomadically.

Six ways to banish enterprise disruption

1.      One place to plan, execute, and do great work

Unlike many project management tools that track individual projects, a work management platform provides a single operational system of record for work (similar to CRM for customers) that connects work artifacts, data, and systems across an entire department, as well as the enterprise.

Work management platforms provide teams with one central platform to share work and updates, manage complex processes, and ensure consistent, high-quality work. This means teams can fully track, manage, and orchestrate all elements of work, and optimise efforts between departments and across the whole enterprise—all from one place.

2.      See all work. Measure everything

When all work is tracked in one central platform, companies get the visibility to make better decisions. In addition to collecting and measuring the data from work that takes place within these environments, enterprise-grade platforms also integrate with other purpose-built work tools, such as Jira, Adobe Experience Cloud, and ServiceNow, as well as communication and collaboration tools like Slack, Teams, and Google.

As a result, work management platforms can provide business leaders with real-time insight into all programs, projects, people, resources, and work across the whole organisation.

3.      Nail remote team collaboration

With teams set to be remote or scattered across work bubbles for a long time to come, organisations must provide their teams with a way to connect work communication and collaboration across the enterprise.

Whether your goal is greater efficiency or better support for teams, you need to all be working in a unified system that makes it easier to monitor the flow and assignment of jobs without getting in the way of the real work. Work management platforms centralise conversations, collaboration, and data, breaking down silos and enabling cross-team, department, and enterprise coordination.

4.      Reclaim time for innovation, creativity, and purpose

Despite striving for efficiency and productivity, chaos still reigns in the world of work. As the Workfront State of Work report reveals, workers only spend 40% of their day on their primary tasks, with constant emails, meetings, and the number of digital project management tools they use to navigate all interfering with productivity. This is an organisation-wide challenge that shows most enterprises aren’t equipped for the future of work.

When work is managed properly, there is less need for distractions, checking of messages or project statuses, or duplication of work across multiple systems. This frees up all that lost time in the working day to focus on innovation and creative projects—so your team can do their best work.

5.      Engage your people

One of the key factors to keeping your team engaged and focused while working remotely is to ensure they feel fulfilled with their day-to-day work. According to the Workfront State of Work report, 91% of knowledge workers are proud of the work they do. But despite that enthusiasm, 42% said the number of project management applications their companies provide actually make them less productive.

Feeling unproductive can be the first step on the route to workplace disengagement, so it’s important that businesses do not let worker enthusiasm go to waste. Work management presents a strong opportunity for enterprises to aid productivity and support employees in doing their best work and feeling fulfilled while doing it.

Because work management platforms also integrate with other purpose-built work tools—Jira, Adobe Experience Cloud, ServiceNow, etc.—employees can continue to operate in the environments designed for specific types of activities. At the same time, they also have access to all the information they need to do their best work, as well as instant visibility into how their work is contributing to company goals. Empowering employees with the right tools and information leads to higher engagement, productivity, and retention, which is healthy for both the bottom line and individual workers.

6.      Sync your company-wide strategy

When it comes to something as important as your organisation’s strategic goals, you don’t want your team members to be siloed in a variety of apps that provide little-to-no visibility into whether or not work  is aligned to the company’s strategic priorities. That means you need one system that integrates all your core software or role-specific applications, such as timesheets, creative suites, or accounting systems. When all work is connected and shared, leaders can identify and remove roadblocks, reduce wasted effort and resources, and eliminate the risk of not delivering critical outcomes.

Manage work holistically

This year, the state of work has changed at a rapid pace. Now workers and businesses alike need clarity and seamless collaboration, whether from home, back in the office, or elsewhere. It’s clear that traditional project management software or multiple applications all operating in silos can no longer deliver the efficiency enterprises need. In the changing world of work—in which teams are working remotely or even in different time zones—collaborating across functions, disciplines, and regions is the new norm.

Work management platforms deliver the much-needed centralised solution for managing and collaborating on all types of work across the whole enterprise. It’s time to say goodbye to project management dysfunction and to begin managing work holistically.