Why Do You Need to Have a Project Management Workflow and How to Create it?
Maintaining efficiency and ensuring every task is executed smoothly is paramount. One way businesses achieve this is through the use of project management workflows. These carefully planned sequences of tasks and activities are integral to the successful completion of projects, improving overall efficiency, reducing bottlenecks, and providing greater visibility into each task.
In fact, organizations that use standardized project management practices, including workflow systems, waste 28 times less money because their strategic initiatives are completed more successfully.
Yet, despite the apparent benefits, creating an effective project management workflow can seem like a daunting task.
So, why do you need a project management workflow and how to create one that works for your team?
What is a Project Management Workflow?
The concept of workflows dates back to the early 20th century. It was introduced by Frederick Taylor and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, who were pioneers in the field of industrial engineering. They saw the potential of improving efficiency by studying and optimizing workflows – an idea that’s still relevant today.
In the context of project management, a workflow is like the backbone of a project. It’s a visual depiction of the sequential flow and control of tasks and activities within a project. It provides a clear roadmap for the entire team, outlining who does what, when, and how.
The workflow can be as simple as a flowchart or as complex as a Gantt chart with multiple dependencies. It takes into account the resources available, the time required for each task, and the order in which tasks need to be completed.
Interestingly, nearly 77% of high-performing projects use a project management tool, which often includes workflow features. Those features help in creating and visualizing the workflow but also in tracking progress and identifying bottlenecks.
Why Do You Need to Have a Project Management Workflow?
A project management workflow is not just a diagram or a chart. It’s a strategic tool that can make your projects more successful and your team more efficient. What exactly a workflow can help you with?
Have you ever tried to complete a complex puzzle without having the picture on the box? That’s what managing a project without a workflow is like. A project management workflow is your picture on the box, providing a clear vision of what the completed project should look like. It maps out every step, breaking down the project into manageable tasks.
Each task has an assigned owner, which eliminates any ambiguity about who is responsible for what. The transparency of this process allows team members to see where the project is at any given moment, and what needs to be done next.
Managing resources efficiently
A project management workflow outlines each task in a project, complete with its sequence and assigned owner. This clear breakdown of tasks allows project managers to understand exactly what resources are needed, when they are needed, and where they are needed.
Facilitating better communication
A project management workflow is a powerful communication tool. It provides a shared understanding of the project’s structure, sequence, and responsibilities. This shared understanding reduces ambiguity, ensuring everyone knows their role and what is expected of them.
Tracking progress and identifying bottlenecks
Workflows outline the entire project, breaking it down into individual tasks, each with its own timeline and dependencies. Every task has its place in the sequence, and as they are completed, you can see your progress towards the project’s end goal.
But it’s not just about tracking progress. This workflow also shines a light on any potential roadblocks or bottlenecks that could derail your project. If a task is lagging, the workflow shows you exactly where the delay is happening. That’s invaluable information because it allows you to pinpoint the problem and address it before it impacts the rest of the project.
How to Create a Project Management Workflow?
Step #1: Define the project scope
Defining the project scope is the lifeblood of a well-structured project management workflow. It’s the compass that guides every decision, every task, and every resource allocation. Without it, teams can end up meandering aimlessly, wasting time and resources on irrelevant tasks. A clearly defined project scope sets boundaries. It outlines what is to be achieved, what is not part of the project, and the specific outcomes desired.
Step #2: Identify the project team
Each team member brings unique skills, knowledge, and experiences to the table. Additionally, they are the gears that drive the project towards its intended goal. By identifying the project team early on, you make sure that every task, every responsibility has a name attached to it.
Step #3: Create a project schedule
With a well-defined schedule, you can map out exactly when each task needs to start, how long it should take, and when it should be completed. This not only ensures that every task is accounted for but also helps in identifying potential bottlenecks or delays. By doing so, it allows for proactive problem-solving and effective resource allocation.
Step #4: Develop a risk management plan
A risk management plan is like your project’s safety net. Risks, both anticipated and unforeseen, are inherent in any project. A comprehensive risk management plan helps you identify these risks early on, assess their potential impact, and formulate strategies to mitigate them.
Step #5: Define the project budget
Each dollar in your project budget is a commitment to a specific task or resource. It helps keep the team focused and aligned with the project’s goals. But it’s not just about control, it’s also about vision. With a set budget, you can foresee potential financial hurdles and plan accordingly, reducing the risk of a financial crisis mid-project.
Step #6: Review and obtain approval for the project plan
Reviewing the project plan is your safety check. It ensures that all elements of the project, from resources to timelines, are realistic and achievable.
Obtaining approval for the project plan, on the other hand, is a seal of consensus. It signifies that all stakeholders agree with the proposed direction. It fosters ownership and buy-in, making each team member a committed participant in the journey towards the project’s successful completion.
Step #7: Execute the project plan
Each task, each responsibility, each deadline that was once just a part of the planning process, now takes on concrete significance. The plan’s execution is not a passive act and it requires continuous monitoring, adjustment, and refinement.
By implementing a project management workflow, you are not only setting a clear path to your project’s end goal but also creating a dynamic environment that adapts to changes, solves problems proactively, and keeps everyone on the same page.
Now that you understand its importance, the next step is to roll up your sleeves and start creating your own project management workflow. Embrace the process, learn from it, and watch as your projects transform from complex challenges into well-orchestrated symphonies of success.