November 2019 – 2nd Article

Trying to Coordinate Processes with Project Management Workflow Software?

Discover the Differences and Benefits of Project and Process Management Workflow Software

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Does Your Business Need Project Management or Process Management? Answer: Businesses Need Both.

[Infographic illustrating key differences between project and process management]

Why is Project Management Workflow Confused with Process Management?

Project management workflow software and process management software are frequently thought to be one and the same. This confusion results largely from the task management features that both forms of software contain. There are, however, some very significant differences that separate the two. To understand them, it’s useful to define what they each mean in isolation.[1]

What is Project Management Workflow Software?

A project is an individual or collaborative series of processes that is carefully planned and designed to achieve a particular aim. For example:

  • A software development project
  • An event planning project
  • A research project
  • Architectural design
  • Website design

While projects usually follow a high-level methodology or process, the details within each step of that methodology tends to be unique for each project. Many projects get around waterfall or agile methodologies. A typical waterfall approach consists of “Requirements > Design > Implementation > Testing > Rollout”. Agile takes a similar approach, but in shorter “Sprints” which cumulatively add up to a larger project. However since each project tends to have unique requirements, the details within those phases can be vastly different for each project.[2] [3]

Project management workflow software helps everyone involved in a project understand, coordinate and track the tasks, time and resources required to accomplish a project’s goal.

A project manager is a person skilled in project management who is responsible for coordinating the people, resources, and tasks necessary to perform the project’s required work.

What is Process Management Workflow Software?

A process is a series of repeatable actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. Many processes need to be done on a recurring cycles. For example:

  • Daily checklists
  • Weekly procedures, ongoing marketing and social media activities
  • Bi-weekly or semi-monthly payroll accounting
  • Monthly accounting close, inventory count, equipment maintenance
  • Quarterly property maintenance, tax filings, reporting
  • Semi annual employee performance reviews
  • Yearly activities and filings

Many processes repeat frequently, but not on a regular schedule such as:

  • Employee onboarding process
  • New client onboarding
  • Mortgage loan processing
  • Property management move-in or move-out checklists
  • Routine equipment installation or inspection at a customer site

Process management software helps organizations document standard operating procedures, automate workflows, coordinate and track tasks, and optimize operational processes.

Workflow software helps organizations automate processes by automatically coordinating process steps, tasks, task assignees, and due dates. It is also possible to assign tasks within the steps of the workflow to a person for completion. Similarly, tasks can also be integrated and connected to other software programmed to complete the task. Workflow software may request that people or other systems provide information back to the workflow for the task to be completed. The workflow may use rules or conditional logic to follow different workflow paths depending on the information gathered or decisions made during the workflow process.

A process manager is responsible for process design and optimization. A process manager evaluates processes, documents them, monitors and optimizes the performance of processes. Process management is inherent to many managerial roles that are not titled “process manager”. However, process management jobs can be a specialization in some industries as well.

What’s the Difference Between Project Management and Process Management?

When building a process, it’s typical to define a sequence of steps that can be repeated so that a clear sequence of steps can lead to a high-quality outcome. For example, the process of employee onboarding. In contrast, projects are often aligned with work that’s unique in nature. This could be, for example, to design and build a website for a customer or plan a marketing campaign. Projects and processes are not mutually exclusive. Numerous processes can make up a project: “define the goal; gather requirements; design a solution; build, test, and refine”. A process, however, cannot contain a project. Accordingly, project management workflow software is optimal for projects and process management software is optimal for processes.

What Problems Arise if you Try to Use Project Management Software to Automate Processes?

Trying to use one to do the job of another results in lots of wasted time. Trying to manage recurring business processes, procedures and workflows with software like Wrike, Asana, Trello, Basecamp, Jira or other project management tools can be like using gardening shears for a haircut. It is possible, but there are better-suited alternatives available. Process automation, by contrast, would be the same as a robot cutting someone’s hair as soon as it is required and in the exact same style as before.

This is because automation ensures that the work for standardized processes moves forward automatically and with consistent precision. With project management workflow software being a manual activity, work must be transitioned from person to person, meaning extra time and effort is put into the coordination of tasks. This coordination often takes the form of daily or weekly project meetings along with emails to check up on tasks. Automated processes, by contrast, rarely require meetings and are, ultimately, self-sufficient. So, while project management workflow software might be able to carry out the same task as process automation, it can be significantly more error-prone or done to a varying standards of quality when a number of team members carry out a process. This is why, for recurring actions, process management is more useful, cutting down on coordination time while achieving high quality, repeatable and less error-prone results.

What Problems Arise if you Try to Use Process Management Software to Coordinate Projects?

While process management is incredibly useful for recurring processes, there are situations where project management workflow software is a better fit. In the same way, for instance, that using gardening shears for a hair cut might be a difficult and risky approach, using a robot eliminates the possibility of having a discussion with a person about what could be changed or improved between hair cuts. So, while there will certainly be a huge amount of actions within a business that will follow the same procedure over time and will benefit from being automated, there will be plenty that would be better to develop over time within a team. This is especially true for newer actions within a process, where the best way to carry out an action has not been worked out yet. This is where coordination within a team is incredibly useful, even if it does make carrying out a project much slower. Once the very best approach to a recurring project has been developed, it is always possible to then use process management software to carry it out more consistently. It is for this reason that, to achieve the very best results across a business, it is always advised to use process and project management software side-by-side.

What is TeamworkIQ?

TeamworkIQ is designed to make managing your business processes simple. Just type up who needs to do what as you would in a document. Your process document can then be used again and again to start new automated workflows which TeamworkIQ manages for you from start to finish. Once a workflow is created, it becomes instantly actionable. Other than making life easier when setting up workflows, this also has the added benefit of saving time that would usually be lost over months training yourself or your team on how to use more technical software.

See how TeamworkIQ works to discover more about how businesses like yours are streamlining operations, making sure things get done right, and reducing costs. Visit our latest case study for the Equitable Mortgage Group and see how TeamworkIQ was able led to a 4x increase in revenue in less than a month.

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Simple.
Smart.
Project Management Software

Not optimal
for processes.
 
Task Management

Both TeamworkIQ and project management software assign and track tasks for work that needs to be done. However, TeamworkIQ is for managing and automating processes, procedures, and workflows. Project managment software is for managing projects.

 
Workflow automation

TeamworkIQ lets you define any step-by-step workflow complete with multiple levels of subtasks. You can enforce the sequence of steps easily by outlining your process with numbered bullets. Or, use regular bullets for work that can be done in any order. Project management tools typically focus on tasks that can be organized and reorganized according to priority status. The notion of “workflow” tend to be more aligned with the workflow for each task, not an overarching process. Project management workflow is usually “not started”, “in progress”, and “done”. Project management workflow is aligned with task completion status wherein a user changes the state of the task manually from one to the other. Process management workflow automates more complex, multi-step processes wherein the transition from one step in the process to the next is automated.

 
Conditional logic

Process automation and workflow software typically support conditional logic. For example, an approval step in the process may ask a person to approve, reject, or send back submitted work for revision. Depending on the decision, different branches of the workflow will be followed. An approval moves work forward. A rejection stops the process, but may also trigger other work to be done. A request for revision, send the process back to the point where work needs to be redone and resubmitted. Project management software lacks the notion of conditional logic and branching workflows. TeamworkIQ supports the ability to branch the workflow based on decisions to opt-into or out-of a branch of the workflow.

 
Dynamic due dates

TeamworkIQ figures out task due dates for you. In a process or standard procedure that gets used again and again, due dates are usually defined relative to other dates in the process. Phrases like “due 3 days after {checklist started}” or “2 weeks after {event date}”, or “4 days before {new hire date}” can be used to set due dates. As soon as you tell TeamworkIQ the key dates, it can calculate all the other due dates for you. Project management software on the other hand typically does not have such automation because it’s more focused on discreet tasks that are manually coordinated by a project manager. Without an overarching process that defines the steps and substeps, tasks and subtasks for a process, there’s no need for project management software to have automated due dates. Instead, the project manager is left to put their time and effort into coordinating it all.

 
Process templates

Some project management software lets you duplicate a project in order to create a new collection of tasks for a similar project. However, when you do, if the work needs to be assigned to a different collection of people, you’re stuck again doing project management work, manually reassigning the tasks to new people, one at a time and then doing the same for task due dates. It takes lots of time of effort. TeamworkIQ’s process templates are smarter than that. Process templates define reusable workflows but are different in two key ways. First, tasks do not have to be assigned to individual people. They can be assigned to roles like “HR Manager” or any other job title you want. Then, when you start a new workflow, you can assign the role to a person without having to reassign lots of other tasks and hope you do not miss anything. The same is true for due dates. Due dates for process steps and tasks can be defined relative to other dates. For example: “3 days after {new hire date}”, “2 weeks after {checklist started}”, “1 month before {event date}”. Thus you need only set a value for the key date when starting a new workflow from a template, and all other due dates are automatically calculated for you.

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