Defining the project workflow is an important first step to solving problems and finishing up projects in a timely manner. If you do not manage to set up on time – and in the right way – then your project workflow can’t grow organically. People in your team will fall into routines, and even though this might seem fine, it will damage how your team evolves in the long run and adapts to new challenges.
Workflow has a huge influence on both efficiency and productivity and being able to change it to boost one or the other is a great perk. However, changing up the workflow in its entirety can seem like quite a challenge. And so, you should think about setting up your workflow early to get it ready for success. But if you are just starting with project management, then this can be a challenge too! With these key factors to successful project workflow, though, your team will be able to tackle any project that comes their way!
Thinking About the Definitions of a Workflow
Before we even start discussing creating a workflow and all of its components, we need to take a quick glance at what a project workflow actually is. And even though you will run into different templates when researching this topic, a workflow generally means the way in which you structure the activities of your team.
Basically, it is how they deal with a project – the tasks, processes, and anything that goes into completing what you need to do. Even those different workflow templates fall within the same definition. Similarly, they all share some common key factors for a successful project workflow.
This is fortunate since a good workflow is essential for project optimization. Using it, you can easily speed up the whole process or some tasks, just by reshuffling things around. The strength of your team’s communication can also be boosted with ease. This way, you can predict and measure your project’s outcomes just by working on your project workflow.
Divide Each Step Into Three Key Factors
This might seem like quite a basic thing, but you can divide all the tasks in your project into three smaller subcategories with ease. It holds true for all tasks – no matter how complex they are! Many people do not realize this, but it can improve your understanding of the workflow and better optimize it.
These tree “sub-steps” are input, transformation, and output. The first is all the resources you will be using for the task. These include the team, budget, time, and materials you will be using when working on the task. The second is the way in which you will transform the input. Finally, the output is the resources once more, albeit changed by the task. These can be the product of a project or can go into the input of the next step.
Dividing each of the project steps into these tree smaller parts will give you a better insight, and thus a better handle, of each step of your project. Similar to dividing a project into smaller steps, noticing these three “tasks” in every task you do brings you closer to the successful project. This is why this is an essential factor in understanding your project workflow better and optimizing it better because of it.
Choose the Workflow Software Very Carefully
We all rely on technology these days to help us manage our projects. Whether these are some communication and collaboration tools, or those that deal with timetables and to-do lists – there is just a handful of people who stubbornly refuse to use apps in their day-to-day business. However, a lot of people do not even realize that the software you pick for your team is one of the key factors to successful project workflow.
First, it is highly important that your workflow is flexible and easy to change. This way, if something just doesn’t work, then you can approach it directly and replace the way you deal with a task. Choosing the software that offers this ability will be very beneficial to your project workflow.
What’s more, it is important that the project management tool offers a variety of different workflow templates that you can pick and choose from. Sometimes, many “beginners” are stuck with standardized workflows that do not really fit their business model. So, when looking for what tools to use, try to find one with templates that fit you right.
Try to Keep Your Project Workflow Simple
A lot of people talk about project management optimization and how to create the best one ever. However, what many people forget to tell you is that how to do this can be hard to learn, and even harder to master. A lot of things can go down on your path to becoming a perfect project manager. Most of the time, it will feel like a balancing act, where you are trying to manage team collaboration with resources and shareholders.
It should not come as a surprise, then, that similar challenges happen in the project workflow too. While your team might be used to the way they deal with tasks, a new person coming into the team might find it very difficult to get used to it. This can cause tension and slow the whole process down.
So, one of the key factors for a successful project workflow is also how easy it is to understand. When creating it, try to make it as accessible as possible. This might include creating tutorials that a person can go through, or a buddy shadow system that can help people organically learn and adopt. Also, this should apply to the technology you use as well – it should be intuitive and even fun to learn.
Work on Your Projects Wherever You Are
Another key factor to a successful project workflow, which also goes along the ease of use, is where you can access it from. The COVID-19 crisis has especially taught us to be prepared for unexpected, as many workplaces had to shift into the confines of our own homes. Working remotely seems to have become a norm, but those who were already prepared for it fared way better than those who were not.
So, being able to work on projects from PCs, laptops, tablets – even cell phones – is an essential part of any successful project workflow. This holds true in the situation we find ourselves in today, as well as afterward. Being able to access your task list, for example, from your home – and even if you are offline – will help boost your efficiency and productivity by a huge margin.
Transparency Is One of the Most Important Key Factors to a Successful Project Workflow
Finally, when working on your workflow, you should also try to empower your team. This is the last – but definitely not the least – of the key factors of any good project workflow. What we mean by it is that every task should be transparent. At any time, people on the team should be able to see not only theirs but the tasks of their teammates.
This way, you create a level of accountability in your team. Once a person knows that others rely on them for a certain task, they will be more prone to finishing it fast. This boosts efficiency but also the reliability of your team. Some might even take it as a challenge and work extra hard to finish before other people. However, it’s important to monitor this friendly competition, since taking it too far can only cause difficulties and slow down the whole process.
You will strengthen your team this way since they will be able to tackle tasks on their own. Thus, you are preparing them for the future, where they will be able to tackle harder, more complex tasks and reduce the workload the whole team will face.
Content writer at Nifty, a leading project management tool, Petar Djordjevic is also a Math student working to become a professional novel writer. In the meantime, he is learning about online writing, content optimization and ways to boost website user experience.