The shift to digital work has been dramatic and swift.
For instance, the Brookings Institute found that since 2002, the share of jobs in high digital skills occupations grew from 5% to 23% while the share of jobs in low digital skills occupations plummeted from 56% to 30%. It’s a trend that will continue, as software, in the words of Marc Andreessen, eats the world.
What does this transformation mean for work? Well, for one thing it means that every company — and every department within every company — has had to reinvent their processes. It also means that company strategy has too often been decoupled from execution, as each department has a different system and method of work. Sales uses a system of record for potential customers, finance uses a system of record for finance, HR uses a system of record for human resources, and so on. These separate systems, with their distinct approaches to work, makes for a fractured and disjointed experience across an organization.
This fracturing is what we call the digital work crisis, a crisis that has surfaced precisely because of the shift to digital technology.
Of course, the solution isn’t to go back to printed memos and filing cabinets. No one wants that.
The solution is to instead use a unified system of record for work to streamline all digital processes.
Here’s how Gartner Research defines this category:
Work management is a set of software products and services that apply workflow structure to the movement of information as well as to the interaction of business processes and human worker processes that generate the information. Work management streamlines and transforms crucial business processes and thus can improve results and performance.
In other words, work management takes a broad, company-wide view to help you gather all work in one place, manage work processes, review digital work, deliver client-facing services, and govern compliance workflows.
It’s all about optimizing work at every level of the enterprise, giving each person in the company a view into what they care about above all else. To optimize work, you need a way to help your entire organization work collaboratively on what they care about most. You need a way to help knowledge workers execute on deliverables, managers execute on projects, VPs execute on objectives, and executives execute on growth.
In short, work management is not just about tasks — the deliverables that knowledge workers are concerned with. It’s about how deliverables, projects, objectives, and strategies roll up into the mission of the entire company.
To further define this category, we’ve outlined seven essentials for any enterprise-level operational system of record. Think of these essentials as a checklist to know whether a potential partner is truly offering an operational system of record. If these seven qualities aren’t on the roadmap for a work management platform, look elsewhere.
1. One place for work. Above all, an operational system of record must show work activity across all tasks, content, and conversations — providing one place for all work. In this way it becomes a system of record for work, diminishing the pressure of the digital work crisis. This system of record for work brings transparency to priorities, work progress, resources, and outcomes to empower you to orchestrate enterprise work with the precision and certainty you run the rest of your business.
2. Built for people. The interface should be familiar and intuitive, quickly connecting every team and organization. At the same time, power users throughout your organization must be able to configure settings to work how their teams prefer. With front-line users in the business engaged, you'll have the ability to build cross-functional, connected workflows across an organization in motion.
3. Keep using what you have. In an era where the number of possible apps out there can feel endless and overwhelming, work management should connect your technology across the company, allowing information and processes to flow seamlessly across teams, departments, systems, and locations. It should help save valuable time through automation and multiply the value of your other platforms and systems as they connect with the platform to amplify productivity.
4. Move at a new pace. Work management platforms must bring together collaboration, content, and tasks throughout the lifecycle of work, so you can accelerate your work. If a platform isn’t flexible enough to keep pace with constant technological change, it’s not sustainable as a modern work management platform. It can’t be considered a system of record for work.
5. Safe and secure. A modern architectural foundation with built-in security and compliance allows you to audit with confidence, ensuring that you maintain the enterprise-level control that you require for safely operating in the digital economy. There are certain tasks that you don’t want everyone in the company to have access to, especially if they contain financially sensitive or copyright information. An operational system of record must be flexible enough to keep such information secure from those who shouldn’t have access to it.
6. See everything. The executive team should be able to see everything that’s happening across the company. This doesn’t mean that they will need to micromanage. (In fact, just the opposite.) It means that they will be able to see and deliver the results of the work that employees are doing so that they can pivot company strategy accordingly.
7. Measure anything. The platform should contain a deep record of all work while delivering analytic-driven insights that empower you to analyze and optimize everything you do. Because you can measure anything, managers can see the results of knowledge workers, VPs can see the results of managers, and executives can see the results of VPs. Everything rolls up into the company goals so that everyone knows how the company is doing when it comes to fulfilling their vision.
End the Digital Work Crisis
To overcome the headache of the digital work crisis, implement a single way to collaborate, measure, and optimize digital work. This unifies strategy and intake, budget and planning, work execution, review and approval, and deliverability. By adopting an operational system of record with the seven essentials listed above, you’ll cut the negative effects of the digital work crisis and empower your team to move toward modern work.
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