Organizations that use technology for work management have a competitive advantage over those without collaborative, digital systems. However, existing work management technology may not be sufficient to keep up with the rate of digital work that is being performed.
Ventana Research defines work management as a unified process to plan and execute work with activities and tasks using the allocated resources available. The pandemic forced many organizations to reexamine how business is conducted, namely travel and on-site meetings performed in the course of business operations. Remote and hybrid work environments reduced the delays typically associated with commuting to and from the workplace and the need to coordinate meetings across multiple time zones. These changes also optimized workflow in the development of business and implementation for customers, clients and partners.
Ventana Research asserts that through 2024, one-half of organizations will invest in work experiences and prioritize work management technologies that optimize use of time for task and activity execution.
Organizations that optimize their existing workflow to remove time delays can gain advantages over those that do not. The assumptions that historically defined work management are changing. Organizations must conduct work at the speed of digital.
Work management platforms are designed to organize workers around task-based projects that follow a baseline, repeatable workflow. Work management software vendors rely on input from customers to inform them about new functionality and evolving business requirements. The atomic elements of a task include a description, the task’s duration, the work estimate to complete the task, dependencies (both predecessors and successors) on other tasks, and the user or group responsible.
Prior to the pandemic, an organization may have required personnel to travel in support of the sales process, requirements gathering, and the execution and implementation of a project. Scheduling appointments, traveling to and from the location and conducting business all take time, which is accounted for in the work management timeline.
Once organizations were operating under quarantine, travel was replaced by digital communication processes. With digital interactions in place, tasks associated with travel outcomes were eliminated and the remaining work could be performed faster. Tasks that may have taken weeks or days to conclude now took days or hours.
While project and task duration compression became an opportunity for organizations to conduct business faster, the new pace of business posed a challenge for the work management platform vendors.
The unit of measurement for the duration of a task does not seem like an important consideration in selecting a work management software vendor. However, with the change in workflow and a greater reliance on digital technology to conduct business, the architecture of existing work management systems may no longer align with the needs of the market.
Tasks that previously required no less than a day to complete can be accomplished in a fraction of a day. Does the work management platform support this level of precision? Regardless of the current capability, what is the right unit of measure for the future of digital business? Hours may appear sufficient if shifting from days or weeks for task duration. With the addition of automation to complete repetitive tasks, perhaps the work management platform should support minutes or seconds as the basic element of time.
This distinction is important for organizations to evaluate. Baseline schedules and standard lead times to complete work in hours instead of days offer a competitive advantage. An organization that is able to complete work in less time can accept more projects. And growth through incremental projects and better use of technology without requiring workforce expansion can increase organizational performance.
Work management software is an established category that organizations cannot afford to overlook. 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.
Changes in how business is conducted, with less travel and in-person meetings, have afforded organizations the opportunity to accelerate the development and delivery of products and services. Organizations generate value from these changes; however, work management platforms typically assume that the minimum duration for each task is one day.
Business is now conducted at the speed of digital technology, and current work management software may hold back organizations’ ability to respond to this growth opportunity. Organizations that have already invested in work management technology should assess their ability to optimize task-based workflows such that task duration time units are not an impediment to growth. Organizations that are investigating the use of work management platforms should be critical of vendor capabilities for task duration and narrow partnership choices to a consideration set that aligns with current and future business requirements.