Process or Project?
Do I need to focus on managing my projects or streamlining business processes to improve my organization’s performance? The answer is a resounding yes.
Today’s workplace looks much different than the offices of a couple years ago. The pressures of the global pandemic, coupled with political and social shifts around the world have created new challenges for businesses of all types and sizes. We’ve collectively been thrown head-first into a brave new world of work, with remote staff trying to figure out how to navigate a world that includes very different team dynamics and a whole set of new management hurdles.
Look online for just a few minutes and you’ll initially be relieved that the software industry has responded to these situations with helpful project management platforms, task handling systems and a slew of process automation technologies - all, they’ll have you believe, ready to make you more efficient, capable of supporting work-from-home teams, and the perfect thing to ensure your business stays on-track and fully operational. You can broadly categorize many of these tools into two categories: project management and process management. Project management vendors focus on defining discrete goals for a particular initiative, creating and assigning tasks, and managing due dates and deliverables.
Process management platforms focus on a function - say HR or sales - and create workflows that facilitate tracking the core elements of those processes. You can track an employee from interview to onboarding through performance reviews and evaluation. A sales opportunity is navigated from prospect to qualified opportunity and eventually to close. Many of these tools have been quite successful at their individual goals, with users happily logging into individual platforms to perform their functions. What you may begin to notice, however, is that you need a bunch of them to accomplish the overall objective of operating a successful business.
Finite vs. Infinite
The problem is that a project is finite, or at least should be if you hope to complete it. As a stand-alone, atomic task it can function as guardrails for the delivery of a specific outcome, but oftentimes is relatively isolated from other elements of work that are required to achieve business goals. Process management software generally handles a specific function reasonably well, but requires integration to use data from other systems, extensive staff training and typically doesn’t offer the flexibility for task handling and project oversight that the project management tools do.
At SmartSuite we look at these categories as a continuum. You have processes that are essential parts of the business, each generating an ongoing stream of work items, tasks and data. Projects are created as needed to achieve a specific outcome, often involving or impacting several of these core processes. On top of all of that, every individual contributor has a long list of things that don’t fit neatly into a predefined category that need to be handled. One-off requests from a customer, a hallway conversation with a manager that leads to a new task - things that don’t generally have a “home” in most of these platforms.
Work Management: Processes AND Projects
To address these needs, SmartSuite combines process and project management functions in a unified platform. We also provide the building blocks needed to tailor the environment to the unique needs of each organization, allowing you to store, work with and visualize data in the way that works best for you.
By consolidating these capabilities in a single platform you have ready access to the information you need from across the organization, all in one place - without the need for complex and costly integration projects, multiple logins and the hassle of constantly changing context. We’re also realists, and know that there are certain systems that just can’t be easily migrated from. For those, we offer a collection of native integrations and connections to workflow automation platforms to make the information you need easily and transparently accessible. SmartSuite becomes your “single pane of glass” to look across the organization and focus on value creation and business goals - not just on the completion of a single project or the efficiency of a standalone process.