If you ever plan to manage an entire production process, there’s no way around it: you absolutely need a collaborative work management software. And when you consider the basics of production management and all the ways in which this kind of tool supports them, it makes sense why. Here’s an overview of exactly that, along with some inspiring examples of how leading brands use collaborative work management software to successfully pull off multi-layered and complex production management projects.
Production management 101
Here’s everything you need to know about what production management is, why it’s a big deal, and what all production managers strive to achieve.
What is the nature of production management?
Production management is usually run by an individual or team, depending on the scope of work. It can be used to help create a product or run a service. The most common activities involved in production management include a wide range of duties. These include everything from organizing a new manufacturing process to overseeing a related marketing campaign to creating a budget for the project.
What is the importance of production management?
It’s essentially the bridge between managing and producing the good or service. While other specialists on the team can execute the nitty gritty details, the production management professionals help plan, facilitate, and control the big picture. Depending on the industry or product, a company might need production management to work alongside other key departments like HR, finance, or even R&D.
What are the key objectives of production management?
Here’s what a production manager or production management team is primarily responsible for on a day-to-day level.
- Sourcing the best possible materials and/or talent
While a production manager might take on the responsibility of hiring and firing team members, they may also delegate the task to an HR department or some other qualified individual. It’s not so much about who does it but how it gets done. No matter who’s executing it, the production management team will most likely determine the best process for the job.
- Creating a blueprint for production from A to Z
It’s the production team’s job to orchestrate the path from idea to realization. They’ll typically start with an overview of what tools are needed, who they’ll collaborate with, what timeline they’ll operate in, and what budget they have to work with. Then they’ll go into detail to describe the expected due dates and benchmarks. After that, the production management team will go into even more detail to subscribe a plan of attack for each segment.
- Top level management of progress
Once the process is established and in motion, the production management team will move even deeper into the management portion of their position by overseeing each step. They’ll also be responsible for working out the kinks and keeping track of what (or who) has fallen behind. If a project is behind their assigned timeline or creeping towards its budget limitations, the production manager will take over and find a solution.
- Providing guidelines and systems that maximize efficiency
For production management teams, a job well done is defined by finishing ahead of schedule and under budget. In order to achieve this perfect balance, a production manager must be skilled at anticipating problems while also creating a process that’s realistic and flexible. They’ll also have to take things like the assigned team’s productivity and human error into account when planning the whole production.
- Reviewing and adjusting the production process when needed
As we’ve already mentioned, project managers have to develop and execute the plan, which means that they’ll also have to deal with roadblocks along the way. When something interrupts the process (a failed parts delivery, a prolonged employee absence, etc.) it’s the project managers responsibility to huddle with relevant parties and maneuver the schedule so that everything fits the initial timeline despite the issue.
Now that we know the primary purpose and goals of production management, let’s take a look at one of the most necessary (but often overlooked) tools needed to accomplish it.
Why the most successful production management teams rely on collaborative management work software
There’s a reason why brands like Adidas, Cisco, and AT&T all use collaborative management software for their production processes. The short story is, it’s because it works. But the longer version will take a little more explaining, which is why we’ve laid out exactly what this tool does and why it’s perfectly suited for the demands of production management.
What is collaborative work management software?
Collaborative work management software has a few other nicknames like digital collaborative tool and team collaboration software. But the most important word in all of these monikers is, of course, collaboration.
Why? Because that’s what this type of software is best at. And for project managers, being able to seamlessly work together with a large and/or diverse group of people while juggling hundreds of variables is priceless.
In practical terms, collaborative work management software is a tool that allows users to outline big-picture plans, fill in the details, and assign tasks to the right people. Once the system is drafted, planners can look over their ideas to make sure they have the right equipment, resources, and personnel in place. They can also look for anticipated obstacles and create backup plans.
After the project has begun, collaborative work management software helps visualize what has been completed, what’s currently being worked on, and what tasks are left over. Even if your team is spread out all over the world, a tool like this allows each individual to provide status reports and ask questions all within the main project file. This keeps communication all in one place, which means nothing gets lost and everyone on the team knows what’s going on at a glance in any given moment.
Sound familiar? Let’s take a closer look at exactly why this kind of tool is a secret weapon for most production management professionals.
Why is collaborative work management software important for production management?
You can probably tell from what we’ve outlined about production management needs and what collaborative work management software is capable of; it’s clear that these two go together perfectly.
Besides helping them fulfill nearly every task on their objective list, production managers also appreciate how much easier it is to use one main program for their work. While you may not be ready to cut ties with your most trusted MES or QMS, you can still use a collaborative work management software to consolidate all your team communications, tasks, and timelines.
That means you can easily replace all your paperwork (spreadsheets, messy email chains, private messaging conversations, vendor invoices, etc.) into a single, flexible software. It’s easier to refer back to and change as you go.
Besides being a match made in heaven for all your most common responsibilities, here are some other reasons to adopt a system like this for your next project.
What are the benefits of collaborative work management software when used for production management?
There are so many benefits of collaborative work management software for virtually every industry. Here’s just a sample of what you can expect when you adopt one as part of your production management strategy.
1. It helps build trust with clients and partners.
Studies show that transparency is the best way for brands to increase their percentage of long-term relationships and gain trust among their audience. And when you use collaborative work management software to draft and manage production, you can easily give clients a clear idea of where their budget is going. It also helps stakeholders make informed choices if anything comes up down the line.
2. It gives you more options than traditional structures.
One of the biggest perks of collaborative work software is how flexible it is. Especially compared to less advanced DIY systems like Word documents or paper and pencil outlines. First, this type of tool makes the production outline process a lot faster thanks to features like drag-and-drop capabilities. Second, if you need to make an edit, your changes can be reviewed and acknowledged by related team members without any extra paperwork.
3. It’s highly visual which is necessary for the complicated team structures of modern business.
Data visualization includes any part of your production that can be communicated through charts, graphics, timelines, and interactive maps. It’s easier to understand for visual learners, of course. But it’s also helpful when you’re dealing with an international group of suppliers, manufacturers, and marketing/sales teams. Even if we don’t all speak the same language, it’s possible that a solid data graph or translatable timeline can make sure nothing gets lost.
4. It helps every member of your team get hyper focused on their responsibilities.
Thanks to the collaborative work software, everyone on your team knows what they have to do and what they don’t have to do simply by looking at what other tasks are assigned to their colleagues. And because this tool allows individual users to add progress updates, they’ll be able to see who they’re waiting on and the time frame to complete their leg of the run. If they see that someone else is late or that they haven’t been given enough wiggle room to complete the task, they have plenty of advanced notice to speak up or find a solution.
5. It lets you develop more realistic processes.
In an ideal world, we’d all be able to manage our time effectively in any given circumstance. But since we don’t live in one of those, using a collaborative work software can give us the next best thing: a workload management platform. Chances are that your colleagues aren’t just working on your production process. This is especially true if you’ve brought on freelancers or are juggling remote employees. And although it’s been proven that they tend to be more productive, it still helps to get their approval on certain critical deadlines ahead of time.
6. It helps you break down complex, layered segments into manageable chunks.
If you’re following a typical work breakdown structure, you’ll usually take large projects within your timeline and separate them into steps. From there, you’ll either assign the task or break that chunk down into smaller ones, then repeat. Thanks to features like folders, subfolders, tasks, and subtasks, you’ll be able to label each step appropriately and in a way that makes sense for everyone.
7. It gives you the chance to clearly communicate priorities.
To do this, you’ll have to label tasks by both urgency and importance. Most collaborative work management software dashboards allow you to choose a level of prioritization. From there you can easily search for and filter out the most important tasks from different tracks into one place without having to search through every timeline or sub timeline.
8. It stores all your project-related documents in one highly accessible place.
Besides storage, you can also expect your collaborative work management platform to let you attach specific files to various tasks for easier reference. This is great not only for general project forms but also for signing or making changes to things like contracts and purchase orders.
9. It allows you to templatize procedures or entire production plans.
Have you worked on a similar project before? Whether it’s an overall timeline and budget or simply a task run that would work really well with this new idea, you can quickly duplicate it with this tool. You can also quickly refer back to older projects saved in your software to find out where comparable productions went wrong or experienced issues to help avoid similar problems in the future.
10. It improves the efficiency of every step of your process.
This benefit is a combination of everything mentioned above. From better communication to clearer task assignments to more accurate timelines, collaborative work management software helps fulfill every goal a production management process could possibly have.
But all these benefits are just hypothetical advantages for your company if you’ve never used this tool before. Which is why it’s great to review how other businesses have tackled production processes so you can see how these benefits translate into the real world. Without further ado, here’s a little inspiration for how you can use collaborative work management software like these aspirational production managers did and reap the same (or similar) rewards.
3 ways leading brands use production management software
What do all of these successful businesses have in common? They used the right tool to achieve their production management goals. This is true even though they are in entirely different industries (travel, insurance, and entertainment, respectively). Even the projects themselves are completely diverse. From scaling their globalization efforts to streamlining client email correspondence to building an entirely new broadcasting department, these businesses are great examples of what it means to use this tool for production management.
Airbnb was recently valued at $31B, and the hospitality and travel brand continues to grow their global reach through collaborative work management software. By outlining, finalizing, and executing the production process of their newest service, Experiences, Airbnb was able to save money and increase productivity at the same time.
Case study: Experiences on Airbnb is a marketplace for unique, local activities. They started out in just 12 cities initially but wanted to quadruple production by streamlining their asset creation process from start to finish.
In order to do so, the Airbnb team created a uniform workflow through Wrike, their collaborative work management platform of choice. This massive overhaul required aligning at least three different teams as well as their individual leaders.
The end result? A scalable production process that allowed all their teams to create thousands of assets while dealing with real-time user feedback and the addition of new locations to their overall database. Duplicate projects and outdated materials became a thing of the past thanks to their newly streamlined and visual timelines.
Main takeaway: Even with a brand as powerful as Airbnb, adding another foundational service without interrupting active user experiences is quite a challenge. This is especially true when you’re relying on multiple teams to communicate with each other from across the globe. As complicated as it seems, moving your system from spreadsheets and inboxes to a fully realized collaborative work management software can help solve communication and production issues without compromising core objectives.
Esurance, the insurance search and quote tool, helps thousands of users find deals, process claims, and use one of many tools designed to make vehicle and home ownership a whole lot easier. Because their service is positioned as an authority on complex insurance topics, customer education is a large part of their marketing strategy. But at a certain point, they started to experience rapid growth and needed a system for handling incoming requests for informational content.
Case study: With this in mind, Esurance decided to use collaborative management software for all of their content creation needs. They needed to find an easier way to juggle multiple open projects at the same time. They also needed to keep track of multiple versions, approvals, and edits without releasing anything prematurely. And all of it needed to be strategically posted across every digital channel, including all their social media accounts and website.
Using Wrike, Esurance was able to accept and organize incoming client correspondence. From there, they could organize all questions and suggestions for content inspiration into one centralized place. And because the emails received were being collected in one relevant storage space, their employees saw an average decrease of 400 new messages taking up space in their inboxes every month.
From there, they could develop a workflow for weeding out the best, most actionable ideas. Then they created a process for turning that idea into a creative asset, drafting the final product, getting necessary approvals, and finalizing the piece.
In real life that translated into a series of request forms that site visitors could use to input suggestions. It also helped them track workloads and performance reports necessary for fine tuning their strategy. And on top of all that, they also helped clear up any confusion around simultaneous projects by providing greater visibility into progress across everything that was in process.
In the end, their efforts were a huge success. Not only did they increase their team’s concentration by streamlining their email system, they were also able to improve both the quality and quantity of their marketing pieces too.
Main takeaway: If you have multiple production processes that require creativity, approvals, and edits, a collaborative work management project is an absolute must. In addition to creating assets, you can also discover new ways to improve your customer information intake and reduce any busy work normally associated with the day-to-day grind. While Esurance set out to solve one issue, they ended up solving three instead.
Bonnier Broadcasting is some of the most prolific and well known TV stations in the Netherlands. The group is a global brand and reaches millions of viewers each year. As part of their revenue model, the broadcasting giant produces and distributes thousands of ads across all their platforms. From pitching to filming to editing, each piece requires a complicated set of specialists as well as equipment and key stakeholder partnerships.
And that’s just the actual content production process. Comparing outcomes to original concepts, getting approval from brands, and choosing when/where/why certain ads should be placed in certain time slots on certain channels was another.
Case study: As you can probably tell, Bonnier Broadcasting needed a way to manage all these moving parts and teams all over the world. At such a large scale, tools like spreadsheets were not going to cut it. And because each promotional advertisement required a huge financial investment to make, there was very little margin for error. Bonnier Broadcasting trusted Wrike to help them create a more organized process for accomplishing their goals.
Following the steps shown in earlier examples, the production company created a standardized workflow for content creation. But, given the need for client approval at every step of the way, they also made it a priority to maintain transparency. This helped with decision making and protecting financial investments since a reshoot or cancellation was simply not an option. Their visual project dashboard combined with schedule and timeline overview helped put investors’ minds at ease and keep everyone on the same page.
In the end, they successfully established and executed a new system that helped them create a predictable workflow, regardless of who was involved, where the project was shot, or which decision makers needed to be reached.
Main takeaway: Some of the biggest setbacks in production management come from leaving key decision makers out of the loop. This can happen for a number of reasons. Maybe the schedule isn’t organized well enough to ask for and receive suggestions while still remaining on track for the due date. Or maybe the decision makers simply don’t have access to a clear overview of where each project is at any given moment.
Collaborative work management software like Wrike is critical for keeping everyone in the know. It clears up communications, helps keep everyone on schedule, and makes sure that expectations align with results.
Main takeaway: collaborative work management software provides A to Z support for all types of productions
So it’s pretty obvious how this kind of tool has provided the backbone for a variety of brands large and small in all their production management goals. If you’d also like to benefit from better communication, more accurate timelines, and increased scalability, be sure to check out Wrike’s free trial. Because at the end of the day, a production manager is only as good as their tools and collaborative work management software is the best there is.