You want your team to function like a well-oiled machine. You want deadlines to be met, communication to be streamlined, and projects to cross the finish line with as little stress as possible.
So, as the project leader, how do you make this happen?
It will take more than just crossing your fingers or clicking your heels together. You’ll need to turn your attention to a workflow report to understand the way your team tackles projects—and identify what isn’t working.
What is a workflow report?
Within Wrike, a workflow report provides a high-level overview of how your team is getting work accomplished.
The workflow report will display the average amount of time tasks remain in a particular status, what percentage of tasks change from one status to another, and the number of changes from one status to another that occur on a weekly basis.
When is workflow analysis appropriate?
Your team is probably more focused on getting the work done, rather than worrying how it gets done. And, it’s far too easy to rely on that oft-repeated adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, anytime is a good time to figure out how you can make some workflow improvements.
Maybe you keep hitting the same snags in completing projects. Perhaps your team is feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Maybe you’re hearing frequent complaints about roadblocks and missing pieces. Or, perhaps nothing has run off the rails, and you just want to support your team in becoming as productive and successful as possible.
There will always be ways to streamline and improve your work processes and it’s smart to consistently comb through and refine them.
How to analyze workflow reports
Before you can make improvements, you need to understand how your current workflows are performing. This is where your workflow report comes in. It’s easy to get your hands on through Wrike.
But, data is only data—unless you know how to use it. Let’s cover a few tips to make sense of the information you get from that report.
1. Look for bottlenecks
One of the biggest things you’ll want to look for are bottlenecks. Your Wrike workflow report will show you how long tasks have been in any given status during a certain time period.
For example, perhaps you can see that tasks are marked as “in review” for way longer than you anticipated. That’s an indicator that your feedback and approval process is a sticking point for your team. With that information, you can further investigate why that’s happening and address that hurdle.
2. Keep an eye on repetitive tasks
Your Wrike workflow report will also show you the average number of changes from one status to another during a weekly basis. This is another area that you’ll want to pay close attention to, because it could help you spot some rote tasks that might be able to be automated or shortened.
If you see that your team is moving way more tasks from “planned” to “in progress” than any other status types during a given week, that’s a clue that you could take some manual labor off their plates by finding ways to optimize the start of projects. This might involve using a template so they don’t need to start from scratch each time.
3. Go beyond the data
Your workflow report will reveal a lot, but you shouldn’t consider it as a replacement for actually talking to your team members.
Go beyond the data and have conversations about your existing workflows. Where do your team members get stuck? What do they think could be working better? What are the root causes of the bottlenecks you’ve identified?
Your team members are the ones who are in the weeds with these tasks on a daily basis, so it’s important to get their input about any prospective process improvements. Plus, those are valuable insights you can use as you figure out how to monitor and manage workflows moving forward.
Top workflow improvement ideas
You have a ton of information at your fingertips, and now you’re ready to leverage that to actually make some improvements for your team.
Let’s take a look at just a few techniques to monitor and manage workflows that you can use to optimize your team’s approach and remove headaches and hassles.
1. Plan for project handoffs
As much as you’d like to think that your project handoffs resemble a swift passing of the baton, it probably isn’t working that way. Transferring ownership of a project to a new person or team is when things can fall off track, especially if people haven’t been kept in the loop about the project’s progress to that point.
To really streamline your workflows, make sure that you account for this handoff period when planning out your projects.
Whether you want to create a brief template that people are required to fill out before handing that project over, or rely on your collaborative work management software to provide transparency and fill in the gaps, it should be clear how you’ll move that project from one set of hands to another.
2. Introduce automation
Sometimes the reason that projects go off the rails has a surprisingly simple explanation: somebody is skipping a small but important step. Maybe team members keep forgetting to assign the next person in the workflow or update the task’s status.
This is where automation can save the day. Wrike makes it easy to see which status should be selected next, and can automatically update assignees based on the task status.
It’s one less thing your team needs to remember, which means they can stay focused on what really matters: the project.
3. Keep the lines of communication open
One out of five projects is unsuccessful due to ineffective communication. Regardless of what hacks or tricks you try to implement, you won’t see significant workflow improvements if you neglect the importance of effective communication.
More often than not, projects slow down or fail altogether because team members miss important updates or instructions.
One of the best ways to prioritize communication is to use work management software that increases transparency and gives everybody visibility into project-related questions and conversations (without having to dig through email threads or hear things in passing).
4. Continuously monitor and improve your workflows
Think you can knock the dust off of your workflows and then watch as everything runs smoothly from there? Not exactly.
Improving your workflows isn’t a “set it and forget it” exercise. It’s something that you’ll need to do consistently as your team and projects evolve.
Set yourself a recurring reminder (at least quarterly) to take another look at your processes and host an open conversation with your team about what’s working well — and what isn’t. That will be far more manageable than needing to overhaul all of your workflows once in a blue moon.
Leverage workflow reports to boost your team’s performance
Like any project manager, your goal is to support your team as it produces high-quality projects — ideally, with as few roadblocks as possible.
But, that doesn’t just happen automatically. It takes a conscious effort to evaluate your workflows and figure out how things can run even more efficiently.
The good news is that workflow reports give you the data you need to tackle this process with confidence. Pull your own workflow reports from Wrike, and then take steps to refine those processes and transform your team into a lean, mean, productivity machine.