One of the main challenges of project management is bringing everything together. Actually, “challenge” is putting it mildly, because bringing everything together is where most team leaders fail. Successful project management requires a strategy that facilitates collaboration, the efficient sharing of information, cohesive communication, and the ongoing evaluation of progress.\nBut easier said than done, right?\nIn fact, the average large U.S. business loses $40.6 million in productivity annually as a result of inefficient knowledge sharing.\nLuckily, organization can make life a whole lot easier. So, let’s look at how to create a project management workflow and the best software to help you do it.\nWhat is workflow management?\nA workflow is a series of steps that require sequential completion to finish a task. Workflow management is the coordination and automation of the different tasks stemming from that workflow. The general concept of workflow management lies in planning and managing tasks to achieve specific goals.\nThe global workflow management market was valued at $5.2 billion in 2018.\nIt’s huge, and big brands are part of it. Amazon does pretty much everything, and it defines its workflow management system as built to “embrace chaos.”\nSpaceX managed to go from 7 annual rocket launches in 2015 to 21 in 2018 using a strategy that focused on improved workflow management.\n\nHow is a workflow process different from workflow management?\nWorkflow management coordinates and organizes the different tasks emerging from each workflow. A workflow process is a series of coordinated tasks. Workflow management ensures that the series of tasks is efficient and more productive.\nA workflow process is a series of tasks\nSource: StakeholderMap\nWorkflow management organizes tasks\n\nSource: Smartsheet\nWorkflow management systems explained\nAny project workflow will benefit from a workflow management system.\nIn fact, controlling workflows without the correct system is difficult, if not impossible, especially for large companies.\nThe system relies on software to act as a workflow plan template, which provides a structure for the setup, implementation, and monitoring of workflows.\nA workflow management system is suitable for most repeatable processes.\nFor example, most large businesses in the U.S. lose $4.2 million annually due to inefficient onboarding.\nEmployee onboarding involves processes that require numerous departments to synchronize information. A workflow management system can ensure a smooth process without any missed stages or hold-ups as information is transferred to other departments.\nCreate custom workflows with Hubstaff TasksManage workflows, teams, and projects all in one place\nOperational workflows explained\nFor operations to be efficient, everyone involved must be on the same page about the required work, completion deadlines, and the anticipated impact of the action on the company.\nAn operational workflow reorganizes operations so that miscommunication and downtime are minimized. It can limit disruptions in the supply chain as every person at each stage of the chain will know when input is needed, and problems can be reported in a timely manner.\nThis is important, as when things go wrong, they can lead to a whole load of related issues.\nOne unexpected side effect is negative press as KFC learned in 2018 when a chicken outage was caused by a change in supplier and distribution issues. The operational workflow change cost KFC a minimum of £4.2 million per week – that’s £920,000 a day. And DHL didn’t come out looking rosy either.\n\nNASA is made up of rocket scientists but the company also learned about the importance of workflow management the hard way. The agency lost $193 million when its Mars Climate Orbiter disintegrated.\nSomeone along the workflow failed to use the right metric units, and there was no system to pick this up. Although it’s almost 20 years since the disaster, this incident still serves as a powerful reminder that you don’t mess with workflow management.\n\nCompany workflows explained\nA company workflow operates in a similar way to an operational workflow, but its focus is strategic rather than operational. This type of workflow makes working as a team easier and more efficient by mapping the work process.\nAt a strategic level, the company workflow will look at things like the effect of poor data or poor customer service on company performance.\nTo illustrate, the U.S. economy loses $3.1 trillion annually to poor quality data. Outside the U.S., businesses lose 6% of their revenue. In addition, businesses lose $75 billion due to poor customer service.\nA company workflow can ensure that all team members know their respective roles and how they will affect the overall strategy of the company. This will help the company gather relevant data that will result in customer satisfaction and brand growth.\nHow to create a PM workflow\nA workflow brings consistency to key processes.\nThis is especially important for producing consistent results in a team setting. Let’s say your company wants to create a workflow for its international team.\nWhat would the creation process involve?\nWorkflow example\nYour business could create a workflow using the following simple steps:\n\nDecide what the workflow is documenting. For example, the launch of a new marketing campaign or employee onboarding.\nDetermine the scope of the workflow. This eliminates redundant tasks and takes on the best strategies. Do we need a developer to create landing pages or will we use existing ones? Do we need to create videos or images?\nDetermine the steps of the workflow. Then, ensure they align with the required goal. Will our campaign funnel get us more signups or registrations? If not, then why not?\nAgree on who is responsible for each step, and assign roles. What will our content manager, social media manager, graphic designer and operations manager do? Is there overlap on any tasks?\nCreate a workflow diagram to picture the process. Language barriers or simple misunderstandings can create problems in a workflow. A diagram is universal and helps to explain the process to all team members.\nTest the workflow. Initiate the marketing campaign with all team members following the planned workflow. Be sure to answer any questions and train the team on following the process.\nDeploy and measure the effectiveness of the workflow. Refine it according to the team’s needs. Some things don’t quite work out when you put them live, and that’s ok. Listen to team feedback and tweak your workflow accordingly.\nAdjust your workflow using your workflow management tools.\n\nCreating workflows takes planning and active participation from your team. It’s highly unlikely that a workflow will be perfect the first time around.\nSo, here are some workflow creation hacks to set you on the right path.\nIdeas for improving a workflow\nAnalyze the current workflow\nThis may seem a bit strange, but the fact is that most businesses do not take the time to analyze their current workflow.\nThe first step toward an improved workflow is first identifying any weaknesses and limitations in the current one.\nThe goal here is to determine how you have been operating to date, and figuring out how well you are doing. In a team environment, some feedback from team members is necessary to get a comprehensive picture of the workflow.\nUse workflow templates\nWorking from a template helps you save time while still achieving the required level of efficiency.\nUsing workflow templates will allow you to focus on refining aspects of the workflow rather than spending lots of time on the initial workflow creation process.\nCollaborate better and work smarterGet Agile project management with visual workflowsTry it free\nUse collaboration tools\nWorkflows are built to improve productivity and decision-making. Without the right set of supporting tools, workflows may end up with bottlenecks.\nTo achieve improved workflows, it is essential to integrate collaboration tools into the workflow plan.\nCollaboration tools improve scheduling, track the completion of tasks, and show progress throughout the workflow.\nA lack of scheduling wastes over 35% of employees’ productive time. However. the right tools can improve this.\nInvesting in collaboration tools can also improve communication and engagement with employees, saving employers up to $450 billion annually.\nAutomate processes\nProcesses are prone to miscommunication and errors. This is especially true for business processes in large companies.\nA survey by Think Money showed that on average, employees waste 759 hours annually due to workplace distractions.\nThat’s a full month of work down the drain.\nTedious, repetitive tasks contribute to this loss in productivity. For example, employees spend up to 40% of their time searching for documents manually. Been there, done that!\nAn effective way to deal with this problem is to introduce automation to workflows.\nAutomation of common workflows plays a critical role, such as when Airbnb simplified Kubernetes workflow to support over 1000 engineers.\n\nWondering how you can automate?\nThe answer is software.\nAutomating workflows with the help of software will ensure improved tracking and management of workflows. This brings us to the next important step: choosing the right software to help with your workflows.\nWorkflow software options\nWorking with the best workflow software makes it easy not only to create and automate but to refine and manage the workflows as well. The best workflow software excels at streamlining processes and providing thorough visibility into the projects’ tasks and progress. Here are some top software options for project management workflow creation you can rely on.\n1. Hubstaff Tasks\n\nHubstaff Tasks is based on Agile project management, which allows you to keep projects moving forward and track the progress of work visually. It has a simple interface that is highly customizable, and it features automated workflows that allow for consistency: a staple for successful workflows.\nTeams can use sprints as a way to determine what to focus on for a set period of time, moving tasks from backlog to future sprint or current. This keeps everyone committed to the highest priority projects, ensuring goals and deadlines are reached.\nIts visual project boards allow teams to set up their own workflows based on their internal process, and then move tasks forward with one click; automatically assigning the right person and notifying them of what’s on their plate.\nHubstaff Tasks can be integrated seamlessly with the Hubstaff time tracking tool for easier overall team and time management.\n\nCons: Limited integrations.\nPricing: Free for a team of up to 5 users. The Premium plan costs $10\/month per user.\nBest for: Hubstaff Tasks is great for any business that works as a team. It’s also ideal for running a remote team, especially one with contractors.\nWhy it’s at the top: Hubstaff Tasks is both simple but helpful for teams of all sizes. At any time, you can open Hubstaff Tasks and see where a task is in the workflow.\nPlus, when used with Hubstaff time tracking, it provides valuable insights that help businesses go forward. It allows businesses to run smarter by providing better future estimates, analyzing project profitability, and looking at how well projects are sticking to set budgets. The software also has enhanced functionality because it syncs with the time tracker for overall improved workflow creation.\n2. Overflow\n\nOverflow lets you construct elegant user flow diagrams for the design project management workflow process. It has a very clean and easy interface that amplifies the simplicity of the whole creation process.\nThe software has no learning curve, which means you can start getting results from day one.\nOverflow can be synced with popular design tools Sketch, Figma, and Adobe Xd.\n\nCons: Overflow is currently only available for macOS but it will soon be available on Windows.\nPricing: 30-day free trial. The Professional plan costs $12\/month per user.\nBest for: Overflow was specifically built to improve user flow diagramming among designers. It can be used by individual designers or design teams.\nWhy it’s at the top: Other user flow diagramming tools don’t explicitly cater to the needs of designers, but Overflow features interactive presentation capabilities that allow designers to easily create and manage user flows. The Overflow cloud allows designers to integrate their designs with team members and other stakeholders.\n3. Kissflow\nKissflow features intuitive workflow visualizations and drag and drop editing that make the software easy to use.\nIt integrates with WebHooks and Zapier, which helps with tracking processes and updates. Kissflow offers a lot of customization options and can generate reports based on relevant metrics.\n\nCons: Kissflow has a bit of a learning curve, which is even steeper when trying to create complicated workflows.\nPricing: Free trial. The Small Business plan starts at $149 per month for up to 30 users.\nBest for: Kissflow is great for ecommerce businesses as well as mobile-dependent organizations.\nWhy it’s at the top: Kissflow is a scalable, cloud-based software that allows businesses to reduce their administrative work. It makes integration with Google products seamless for ecommerce businesses and its mobile app is great for mobile or field-based companies. The support team is also highly efficient.\n4. Wrike\n\nWrike uses an agile methodology and custom workflows that ensure good outcomes. This is especially true when creating workflows of the process in software project management.\nIt features an interactive timeline that makes viewing the process schedule easier, and it also has a collaborative tool that eliminates delays and miscommunication.\n\nCons: Wrike is not that easy to set up so you will need to take some time to learn it.\nPricing: Free for a team with up to 5 users. The paid plan starts at $9.80\/month per user.\nBest for: Software development teams and other businesses that are largely customer-centric.\nWhy it’s at the top: Wrike is customizable and dynamic, and it allows enhanced team collaboration on various transformational work including marketing and designing. The software makes it easy to identify project details and identify any conflicts inherent in the project. It also supports video content in addition to documents.\nThe next steps\nReady to get started?\nCheck out this YouTube video by Jennifer Bridges that gives an excellent visual representation of workflow management.\nYou might also consider listening to the ‘Workflow’ podcast by Rindle that provides insight into workflow collaboration among teams.\nCreating a project management workflow can be challenging. But don’t panic. Workflow software is built to make the whole creation process a whole lot easier. Once you get your workflow up and running you will appreciate the improved effectiveness and productivity.\nThe global workflow management system is set to reach over $22 billion by 2025, so it’s definitely something that deserves your attention. Let us know your experiences and favorite workflow management tools in the comments below.