Every project manager, whether new or seasoned, has the same goal: completing projects on time and budget. According to research gathered by Wellingtone, only about 34% of projects are completed on time and budget.
Project management workflows are crucial for meeting that goal because they serve as the guidelines each project must follow for success. Without a clear workflow, it can be difficult for teams to know what needs to be done, who is responsible, and the order in which tasks should be completed.
In this article, we'll dig into project management workflows with step-by-step guidance on creating them with the help of project management software and templates. Don’t let your projects spiral out of control - establish a project management workflow and reap the benefits of improved productivity and project success.
What is a project management workflow?
A project management workflow is everything that must be done to take the project from point A (the start of a project) to point B (the completion of a project). It organizes and describes each step needed for project success, puts them in order of execution, and makes them accessible to the team visually.
We can think of the project management workflow as a recipe. When you’re in the kitchen, the recipe lays everything out, starting with the ingredients needed. Preparation and cooking steps are presented in order so you can arrive at the finished dish. Visually, your recipe needs to be well-organized and easy to follow. It should include a variety of elements, such as ingredients, task lists, notes, and some images of the finished dish.
Ultimately, project management workflows exist to improve efficiency and efficacy in projects because everyone knows what to do and when, just like following a recipe in the kitchen.
Project management lifecycle as cookbook for the workflows
The project management lifecycle has 5 phases: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and controlling and closing. Using these as a framework to plan, execute, and deliver projects is the best way to build and use a workflow and keep things running smoothly. If the project management workflow is the recipe for a specific dish, we might think of the project management lifecycle as the cookbook the recipe is published in.
The project management workflow is how the project manager organizes all the information and plans needed to carry out the lifecycle. It puts them into visuals to support each project phase and carry it through to completion.
In our example, the cookbook is the project management lifecycle. It’s organized into phases, or sections, to organize the individual recipes and create an order for them. The sections of a real cookbook could be breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For the project, it’s the five phases. The overarching methods of the cookbook provide structure and organization that will guide you in the kitchen as you go through each recipe and make reasonable choices on what to cook and when.
Benefits of adopting a project management workflow
- Harness chaos with realistic planning
- Clarify goals and objectives
- Facilitate teamwork by understanding who does what
- Increase success rates of projects by getting every step done
Successful project management workflows step-by-step
The two main questions a workflow needs to address are: What needs to be done, and how will everything get done? Gathering this information first will allow you to produce a workflow that guides you through your project successfully. Let’s dive into these two questions.
What needs to be done?
In each project, you need to start by figuring out what exactly needs to be done for the project to be successful.
Establish goals and objectives
First, goals and objectives need to be identified and documented for the team. Keep your goals SMART to put your project on the path to success, and start thinking about the best way to incorporate them into your workflow so they will be easy to see and track progress against.
Define project scope and deliverables
The better defined your project’s scope, the more likely you can create plans and tasks to get where you need to go. Scope creep is a leading cause of project failures, so work on a scope statement that will capture the high-level review of the project and its boundaries.
Don’t sleep on letting a work breakdown structure, or WBS, guide you to success by breaking the project deliverables down into bite-size pieces. Do it. This is also the key to ensuring you have your tasks and their sequence nailed down.
Create a project timeline: estimate effort and resources
This may be dependent on business targets and resource availability. Make sure your timeline is reasonable to meet both while ensuring the successful completion of the work of the entire project. Remember to avoid fully loading your resources with tasks. They need to have time for necessary meetings, and potential non-project work.
How will everything get done?
Now that you have a good idea of what needs to be done to meet acceptance criteria, it’s time to really nail down how the work will get done.
Task assignments and task dependencies (the order in which tasks need to occur)
This might end up being documented in Gantt charts or software app task assignments. The sequence of steps needed to complete project activities needs to be clear and visible to everyone on the team to make sure dependencies are managed well.
Make sure allocations fit within the scope, project budget, and timeline. This includes identifying the project team and scheduling them for the tasks they will have within the duration of the work.
Assigning roles and responsibilities
Make sure you know who will be responsible for completing individual tasks. Communication is key here! You might want to consult your RACI chart when making assignments across project teams.
Visualize the workflow
The next big step is taking all the information you’ve gathered and putting it in a visual representation to show task progress, task dependencies, phase, and timeline. A good visual workflow keeps the team and stakeholders informed, helps capture risks, and stays updated as the project progresses.
This may look like a flowchart or a diagram. Most commonly, the workflow is shared using software tools. Let’s talk about finding the right one and how using workflow management software can help.
How Motion fits into your workflow
There are many benefits of using software to power your workflow. Motion’s project management tools can power up your workflows by reducing confusion about who, what, and when for the team and stakeholders. Automation is built into many aspects of Motion’s tools, saving you from costly manual work and increasing efficiency and effectiveness. And finally, the improved visualization software can bring your workflow to help everyone on the project stay engaged and aware of the project’s status.
Features to support your workflow
Motion has lots of features that are crucial to making your workflow successful:
- Task assignment ability
- At-a-glance task progress
- Scheduling on individual AND team calendars
- Deadline visibility and alerts
- Management of project AND non-project work
Implementing your project management workflow
Introduce your new workflow to the team by framing it right to encourage everyone’s buy-in. Even on smaller teams, with so many people working remotely, picking a great tool manages their workload and makes teamwork much smoother.
Once you choose a workflow tool, it’s time to set it up. This is where setup must be straightforward so you don’t waste a lot of time on manual tasks. Next, present it to the team for their feedback and make adjustments. The more excited your team is about the tool, the more likely you will utilize it and revolutionize your workflow. Finally, roll it out with the next project on the books. Make sure to gather lessons learned as the project progresses and from post-mortems to make using your tool even more useful in the future.
Use Motion to drive your project workflows
Project managers aim to complete projects on time and budget, but as we’ve seen, not enough projects achieve this goal. Clear project management workflows are essential for success, providing guidelines and order for tasks. Creating workflows with project management software and templates can improve productivity and project success. Streamline your project tracking with automated project management using Motion.
Motion’s smart scheduling can help speed up task assignments, minimize bottlenecks, and stick to your project plan on time and on budget. Motion can help assign tasks to individual team members based on priorities, dependencies and deadlines. The smart calendar not only allocates time to work on the tasks, but reminds you and your team when tasks are due and warns you if a deadline is at risk . Let Motion’s AI streamline your workflow so you don’t have to.
Smooth out your project management workflows and start your 7-day free trial today.