Last week, we posted the following quote on Social Media:
Understand flow and process of your projects to avoid them spinning out of control.
The response was lots of nods of agreement. Clearly, this is something that resonates with our followers.
So how does workflow (or ‘flow’ as we called it) relate to good project management? And how can a good project management tool support optimal workflow?
Workflow and project management are tightly interlinked. They also share a lot of similarities. But they are not the same.
Some project and workflow semantics
Let’s get the nitty gritty out of the way first.
Project management authority PMI defines a project as “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result”.
A workflow,on the other hand are all the steps that need to be taken to bring a task to a successful end.
What project and a workflow have in common is that they are focussed on bringing specific outcomes. But, while a project deals with the planning and overseeing of a series of tasks, workflow is what connects these tasks and makes them run from stage to stage without hiccups. Basically, projects depend on a good workflow to run smoothly.
You and me are not the same
But there’s more to it and this is where it gets interesting.
Projects by definition are unique; workflows on the other hand can be quite repetitive. How your company transitions from initiation of a project through to final sign-off is typically part of the company’s standard procedures. Some flexibility might be in order at times, but generally speaking, it’s not something that is reinvented over and over again.
The thing to remember is that how workflow is handled differs from company to company. Stick with this for now, we’ll get back to it later.
Project Management Software and Workflow
As a project manager, you will be dealing with both projects and workflow. Sometimes it’s even hard to differentiate one from the other and when looking at project management software, many of the options available support both.
The real question is how good are they at it? Good project management tools automate the workflow as much as possible. They improve productivity, reduce errors and stress and ensure consistency.
Customizable is the magic word
But remember how we pointed out that companies often have unique and specific procedures for handling workflow?
It automatically follows from there that the workflow side of your project management tool should reflect that uniqueness. A good project management tool should allow for flexible workflow set-up.
If your workflow options are out-of-the-box, you will be in trouble. The tool will not align with the actual stages of your workflow. What’s more, it will cause a lot of confusion and be the source of errors. In other words, it’s important that the project management tool of your choice allows for a good amount of customization. Your procedure, your steps, your words.
ProWorkflow is on the ball
One reason our customers really appreciate ProWorkflow is because the software allows for the level of flexibility your company needs. You design the different stages of a project in a template (you create as many templates as you want) and like a jigsaw puzzle you put your project together with the templates you need. It’s all kept in line with your company workflow procedures.
Assign as many users as you want. Replace them, add them, or remove them as the project transitions through the workflow. As soon as one of the team members finishes their side of the task, you mark it off and the next person who needs to work on it takes over.
The integrated notification and collaboration tools make sure you can communicate it effectively.
The result is an efficient and flexible workflow that gets the best out of your team.
Project gone well, happy customers. Big thumbs up!