Project management workflows are hard. Trust me, I know. I worked as a project manager for years and it can be really tough to find the best ways to organize everything for your team.
When I started as a project manager, I had no idea what I was doing or how to keep things from falling through the cracks. Then I discovered workflows and the skies parted. Everything in my life got better.
Okay, that last part isn’t exactly true. But using project management workflow software certainly helped save me a lot of time and stress, and it can do the same for you.
So let’s talk about project management workflows, what they are, and how they differ from process management. Then I’ll tell you about the five best software you can find.
Project management workflows are essential components of successful projects. They are the sequence of tasks and activities that need to be completed to achieve project goals and deliverables. A project workflow outlines the specific steps that team members must follow to move a project from start to finish.
Project management workflows can be executed using various methodologies and supported by project management tools. They provide a systematic approach to managing complex processes by breaking them down into smaller, manageable tasks.
This helps teams stay organized, ensures that all project requirements are met, and keeps everyone on track towards the project’s timeline and objectives.
A proper project management workflow identifies the key team members responsible for each task and establishes accountability. It also outlines the dependencies between tasks, enabling team members to understand how their work contributes to the overall project’s success.
Workflow management software and tools provide visibility into progress and enable seamless collaboration among team members, making it easier to track and manage tasks, deadlines, and resources.
One of the key features of project management workflows is the ability to create custom workflows tailored to specific project needs or industry requirements. This flexibility allows for easier adaptation to different types of projects, whether they are small, iterative tasks or complex, large-scale projects.
Additionally, project management workflows often include features like time tracking and an approval process, allowing managers to monitor progress, identify bottlenecks, and make timely decisions. This enhances project control and enables quick adjustments to project plans, if necessary. It makes overall business processes run much more smoothly.
Let me sell you on project management workflows by talking about why they’re amazing. Here are the benefits:
Project management workflows provide a systematic approach to managing complex processes. By breaking them down into smaller, manageable tasks, workflows help streamline the project’s execution, ensuring efficiency and reducing the risk of errors.
With clearly defined steps and milestones, project management workflows enable teams to stay focused, aligned, and productive. They provide a roadmap for completing tasks in a timely manner, optimizing resource allocation and reducing wasted time and effort.
Collaborative features within project management workflow software promote real-time communication among team members. This eliminates the need for back-and-forth emails and fosters seamless collaboration, ensuring everyone is on the same page and fostering transparency.
Project management workflows often include features like time tracking and an approval process, giving managers better visibility into project progress. This allows them to identify bottlenecks, make timely decisions, and adjust project plans if necessary, enhancing overall project control.
By setting clear expectations, defining dependencies, and assigning accountability, project management workflows reduce the risk of missed deadlines, errors, and rework. This ensures that projects are delivered on time and within budget, meeting client requirements and expectations.
There are several types of project management workflows that organizations can implement to effectively manage their projects. These workflows can be tailored to suit the specific needs and requirements of different projects and industries. Here are some common types of project management workflows:
This type of workflow follows a sequential order of tasks, where each task is dependent on the completion of the previous one. It is suitable for projects with a clear timeline and well-defined dependencies.
In an iterative workflow, tasks are divided into smaller cycles or iterations. Each cycle involves planning, executing, and reviewing the tasks. This type of workflow is ideal for projects that require continuous improvement and adaptation.
Agile workflows are known for their flexibility and adaptability. They involve breaking down the project into smaller tasks called user stories and completing them in short iterations known as sprints. Agile workflows are widely used in software development projects.
This type of workflow involves multiple tasks or phases running concurrently. It is commonly used in projects where different teams or departments work on separate components or deliverables of a project.
A hybrid workflow combines elements from different types of workflows to suit the specific needs of a project. It may involve a combination of linear, iterative, or parallel approaches, depending on the project requirements.
So what makes up project management workflows? There are several components, so let’s take a look at them:
This involves defining project goals, setting objectives, and outlining the overall timeline and scope of the project.
This component involves breaking down the project into individual tasks, assigning responsibilities to team members, and tracking progress.
Project management workflows require the efficient allocation of resources, such as manpower, budget, and equipment, to ensure that tasks are completed on time and within budget.
Effective communication and collaboration among team members is crucial for successful project management workflows. This includes facilitating regular team meetings, providing updates, and ensuring clear channels of communication.
Identifying and mitigating risks is an important component of project management workflows. This involves assessing potential risks, developing contingency plans, and monitoring risk throughout the project lifecycle.
Maintaining comprehensive documentation and generating regular reports are essential for tracking progress, monitoring milestones, and evaluating project success.
Ensuring that deliverables meet quality standards is another vital component of project management workflows. This involves conducting quality checks, performing testing, and managing any necessary revisions or improvements.
As projects evolve, changes may need to be incorporated into the workflow. This component focuses on managing and implementing changes effectively, mitigating any potential disruptions or delays.
These are the steps to need to take in order to build project management workflows:
Begin by clearly defining the project goals, objectives, and scope. Understand the specific requirements and constraints of the project, and gather input from stakeholders to ensure alignment.
Divide the project into smaller, manageable tasks. Determine the sequence of tasks and dependencies, and assign responsibilities to team members. Use project management software to organize and track these tasks.
Establish the workflow processes that will guide the completion of tasks. Determine the sequence of activities, decision points, approvals, and handoffs required. This will allow for a structured and efficient flow of work.
Assess the resources needed for each task, including manpower, budget, and equipment. Make sure resources are allocated effectively and in alignment with project requirements. Continuously monitor resource availability and make adjustments as necessary.
Implement tools and processes to facilitate communication and collaboration among team members. This includes regular team meetings, email updates, project management software with collaborative features, and efficient channels of communication.
Identify potential risks that may impact project success. Develop risk mitigation strategies, contingency plans, and a risk monitoring process. Regularly assess and update the risk management plan as the project progresses.
Define a system for documenting project progress, milestones, and important decisions. Generate regular reports to keep stakeholders informed and evaluate project success. Utilize project management software to streamline documentation and reporting processes.
Regularly review and evaluate the effectiveness of the project management workflows. Identify areas for improvement, implement changes, and adjust the workflows as needed. Encourage feedback from the project team to refine and optimize the processes.
Shopping for a project management workflow tool can be intimidating. How can you tell which ones are actually the best versus which ones just have really good marketing?
So I’ve taken the work out of it for you. Below are the five best project management workflow tools. Each one offers a free trial, so read about them and try the ones that speak to you the most.
Self-described as the “all-in-one toolkit” for managing operations, Basecamp really does deliver.
Each project on Basecamp has all of its management features on one page. These features include:
That last feature is great because it allows managers to automate their check-in questions for their team so they don’t have to pester anyone.
Basecamp features team schedules so everyone can see what the others have on their schedules and when their deadlines are.
It’s a highly intuitive tool that’s great for teams who are looking for simpler project management software.
Like most project management software, Asana has multiple ways you can view a project, like:
But it has one extra that sets it apart from other tools: timeline.
The timeline feature gives users a visual representation of the stages of each project from start to finish and helps teams keep track of their deadlines.
Asana also comes with a unique workflow management feature that allows managers to see the overall workload of each team member. It tells managers who is overworked, underworked, or if a project is properly staffed. Features like this save employees from burnout.
Trello is a Kanban-style project management tool that is the digital answer to sticky notes on a wall.
In my previous job as a remote project manager, I used Trello to manage multiple projects at once to great success. It’s a great way to collaborate and have all the steps of the project clearly laid out and defined.
You can see what your colleagues have done or are currently working on in real-time, making it easier to know the status of your project without having to wait for replies from someone in another time zone.
Additionally, Trello allows you to:
It’s intuitive and very easy for teams to learn how to use. You could have your team using it reliably within a week.
Where most project management tools focus on data, Notion focuses on knowledge.
What does that mean? Well, Notion’s biggest selling point is that you can use it to:
It’s about putting all of the knowledge contained in a project into one place.
For example, I once had a job writing scripts for a YouTube channel. We used Notion to upload the prompts, scripts, descriptions, and thumbnails. We even used it to leave notes on each other’s work.
The scripts didn’t have to be uploaded to Notion as separate files, they could be put in directly without sacrificing any rich text.
Notion won’t be able to give you detailed reporting and analytics on data like other tools, but it’s excellent for creative collaboration.
It also includes administrative features for permissions management, checklists, and real-time collaboration.
Monday is the most versatile software for project management.
Monday.com utilizes very user-friendly timelines and calendars to structure tasks, giving users a clear picture of when things should be completed.
You can also change the view to see the project tasks laid out in a Kanban or Gantt chart.
Monday gives project managers a lot of flexibility in their methodologies, whether they prefer Agile or Scrum.
Monday supports lots of different types of workflows that can be used by most departments.
These workflows include:
All of the tools we just covered are great project management software. However, that means they are all inherently lacking when it comes to process management.
But what is the difference between project and process management, and which one do you need?
Well, the answer is surprisingly simple. Projects are short-term and measurable. There is a clear beginning and end to a project. There may be a budget and specific deadlines that must be met, and you may only ever work on a specific project one time.
Processes are recurring tasks that keep day-to-day operations running smoothly. Processes are things like:
You get the idea. It’s literally impossible to run a business without some kind of process management.
If you’re looking for a management tool for one of the listed processes above, you’re better off with one like Process Street.
Process Street specializes in making recurring processes seamless and easy for teams. With it, you can make checklists that can be automated to make everyone’s lives easier and take boring, repetitive work off of employees’ plates.
It differs from project management software because it keeps all the long-term information about company processes in one place. It keeps things organized and standardizes everyday business practices.
If you want to see what a process management tool can offer and have your questions answered in real-time, book a demo with Process Street! Our sales representatives can walk you through the whole process of building a workflow and how the platform can work for entire companies.