Workzone: 1 Million Projects Later, What We’ve Learned About Communication

There are countless articles online telling readers the keys to a successful project. If the message is so ubiquitous and the mantra so internalized for most project managers, why are half of all IT projects still failing?

The team at Workzone, a web-based project management software that provides a “Goldilocks solution” of effective, simple, yet powerful features, has a few thoughts on the topic. With Workzone recently hitting a milestone of deploying more than 1 million projects, VP of Marketing Mostafa El-Bermawy shared some thoughts on the nuances of communication and project success.

It’s not about how much you talk or listen, but how much information is exchanged

Which is not to say that teams should stop talking of listening to each other. Rather, it’s important to evaluate whether thoughts are being expressed clearly and whether the information is being absorbed and retained. Companies have to see communication as the successful capturing and transfer of information, which often means leadership must be concise, specific, and exact about deliverables, and the documentation necessary on the way to reaching these deliverables. While documentation – frequent check- ins, reports, and analysis of key metrics – may not be fun for everyone, it’s an essential component of communicating results and progress clearly. Teams can talk until they are blue in the face about their big ideas, but without proper reporting and analysis there is no way to know if everyone understands these ideas or know how to move forward in their respective roles.

Measure as much as you can

The key step on the way to clarity in communication is data. KPI’s, OKR’s or whatever you call them– whatever can be measured in your project should be measured. Younger workers can and want to measure everything, not only because they grew up in a data-driven world, but because it helps them be clearly accountable for their work. Telling your marketing team their recent copy doesn’t quite hit the right tone is a nebulous and barely constructive analysis of performance. Telling your marketing team that you measured a 20% decrease in clicks when they changed headline A to headline B in the banner ads can help them immediately pinpoint the problem and begin analyzing what parts of their work contributed to success or failure. With more and more tools providing an abundant amount of data and analysis, project managers would be remiss not to employ them to communicate more clearly with their team.

Your tech stack is not just an IT Issue

It’s a communication and productivity issue. The software and apps companies use to help their teams discuss, plan, and manage their projects – in short what they use to facilitate communication and organization in their work – shouldn’t fall simply in the purview of the IT department. Even if the tech is working flawlessly with no bugs, team leaders must take a keen interest in whether the suite of tools they deploy are hindering more than they are helping. It’s a disservice to the tool to buy it and not know how to successfully implement it – and that means taking the time to onboard teams.

How tools interact with one another is an important consideration. If a team is toggling between 3 different apps just to send, chat about, and edit one document, it’s time to seriously consider if just using these tools is taking up more time than they save. If tech tools are hard to use and take excessive steps to achieve an end, it’s likely hindering communication more than it helps. That’s why Mostafa refers to Workzone as the “Goldilocks” (or “just right”) solution. The company is constantly improving their software to ensure that it offers all the essential project management and collaboration features companies need, but without too many extraneous and seldom used features that make the interface too convoluted. Workzone has invested heavily in its onboarding and implementation, so that users become comfortable and know how to use the tools to maximize their productivity.

Project Managers are your universal translators, so find a good one

Project Managers, already indispensable in the tech arena, will continue to see their roles grow in importance. Not only are they the facilitators and central clearing house of team communication, it’s often project leaders who choose the tools by which a team communicates. A project manager that can accurately assess the needs of their teams and alter practice to accommodate those needs will go a long way in making sure the team is actually communicating, not just talking and listening.

The team at Workzone will continue to refine and improve their software to help communication within teams and provide a simple, elegant, and all-in-one solution to project management. But ultimately, the tool is only as good as the craftsman, and it is incumbent upon the teams to make sure that useful information is actually be compiled and transferred in their communications, and that key project details don’t get lost in a sea of noise.