In the famous words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”. The essence of his idea is still very much alive today. The Project Management Society identifies inadequate planning as the #1 cause of failed projects.
The solution is workstreams project management. It’s a practical and efficient method project managers can use to juggle multiple projects at once and support team collaboration without data silos or miscommunication roadblocks.
Find out why you should reorganize your project tasks into a workstream – and how to do it.
What is a workstream in project management?
Workstreams are sets of related tasks grouped to help you achieve your goal as quickly as possible. They are a way of breaking down complex projects into smaller, manageable parts.
How you divide a project into workstreams is up to you. You can take two approaches:
Linear or sequential approach: Tasks are done one after another in a fixed order
Concurrent or parallel approach: Different teams work on multiple tasks at the same time
Below, you'll find workflow examples that illustrate how to use them in project management for real-life situations at your company.
Some examples of workstreams in a marketing campaign project include:
Social media strategizing and posting
Managing your marketing campaigns with workstreams.ai can be done like this:
- Set up your campaign: You can use one of the workstreams.ai templates or start from scratch
- Configure your tasks: Just press the “Add task” button to create one and assign it to the person responsible
- Optimize and automate: For things like adding stories, posts, or other regularly repeatable actions, set them to repeat so you don't have to worry about forgetting them
- Track project progress: Add goals and milestones to give your team a clear overview of where they're at with burndown charts
Agile project management in the IT sector can help you develop delightful products hassle-free. Here are examples of workstreams in an IT project and how workstreams.ai can help with them:
- Website development: A flexible workstream facilitates project team collaboration across UX, graphics, content creation, and development departments
- Feature updates and UX design: You can assign tasks with clear, visual labels to team members from one place to gain momentum with your work
- Bugs fixing: A unique bug label helps to identify those pesky issues that need a fast fix
- Landing page creation: Bundle related tasks into one goal to gain transparency and agility when connecting your content writers with graphic designers and IT specialists
Workstreams in project management for human resources shift your focus from processes to people. Here's how you can break down the recruitment process into smaller workstreams and subtasks to help your HR team run smoother:
Position definition and approval: Defining open positions, gaining approvement for hiring, and setting salary budgets
Candidate sourcing: Searching for and attracting potential candidates through various channels
Screening and shortlisting: Reviewing resumes, conducting initial interviews, and shortlisting candidates for evaluation
Interviews and assessment: Scheduling in-depth interviews, skills assessments, and cultural fit evaluations
Reference checking: Verifying candidate qualifications and suitability
Offer and negotiation: Extending job offers and negotiating terms with selected candidates
Onboarding: Facilitating orientation and training
Metrics and reporting: Tracking recruitment metrics, such as time-to-fill and cost-per-hire, and reporting on recruitment activities
Workstreams project management: Benefits
Improved organization and productivity
A clear definition of roles and responsibilities reduces the chaos and stress of a disorganized workspace and helps you allocate resources more effectively without overloading anyone. You may even find processes that don’t require human intervention at all and can be automated, increasing productivity even more.
Greater accountability and engagement
Clear task assignments foster a sense of ownership and engagement. Everyone knows what they're responsible for and how they contribute to the company's success. Following a workstream and celebrating each milestone makes work more rewarding, satisfying, and meaningful.
“A clear outline for what is expected eliminates confusion and miscommunications, and helps ensure that employees have what they need to succeed in achieving their goals.”, says Kate Vitasek, senior Forbes contributor.
Workstreams provide a transparent plan that facilitates effective collaboration. On top of that, stakeholders can easily track the status of each project, improving trust and confidence. Transparency is also necessary because it helps identify improvement areas, enabling proactive problem-solving and risk mitigation.
Every project manager knows how stressful it can be to meet tight deadlines and keep deliverables up to standard. Streamlined workflows make this that much easier. They keep your customers happy because no task, problem, or deadline gets overlooked with a visual, collaborative project plan.
Workstreams in project management make it easier to plan large-scale endeavors. When you understand their requirements, your ongoing projects, the budget, and the workload of each team member, you can make realistic forecasts. That ensures you never bite off more than you can chew.
Workstreams project management: How to implement
Break the project into workstreams
As the first step of your workflow analysis, identify the major components or phases of the project. These will be your trackable milestones. Determine their key deliverables and desired outcomes.
Group the related elements based on their nature and dependencies. Each workstream in project management should represent a logical, manageable portion of the plan.
Clearly define each workstream
To build workstreams, ask yourself these questions:
What is the purpose of this project?
What are its KPIs?
What is the project scope and budget?
What are the potential risks you can come across?
What departments and team members are involved?
What project milestones do you need to meet?
What do the stakeholders need to be informed about?
Write down your answers and keep them at hand when you go on to the next stages of building an effective workstream.
Before you go on to mapping workflow dependencies, you need a strong foundation of goals, roles, and rules for each workstream.
Set clear goals
We recommend using the SMART goals technique to ensure your project objectives are:
Make sure each workstream aligns with the overall project objectives and company growth direction.
Assign roles and responsibilities
To complete projects effectively, each team member has to understand their role and how they contribute to the organization's success. Assign tasks to maximize productivity – ensure everyone is working on what they do best and no one is overwhelmed with their workload. Use tools for streamlining communication between multiple teams to prevent unnecessary data blocks.
Establish rules and guidelines
Create a set of communication protocols, reporting structures, and any specific project standards. Some examples of rules you can implement include:
Daily or weekly status updates in your communication tool
A system for quality checks before setting deliverables as complete
A procedure for resolving conflicts that cannot be resolved within the workstream
Standard formatting for documentation
Comprehensive reviews after reaching milestones
Don’t forget to check all relevant regulations and industry standards at this stage.
Workflow mapping is essential to help you illustrate project priorities and dependencies. First, determine which tasks are the most critical for the company’s current needs. Prioritize in terms of deadlines or getting you closer to company goals.
Use visual project management tools to map interdependencies between project workstreams. Completing tasks in one area pushes forward improvements in other departments, too. Update these dependency maps regularly and use them to identify bottlenecks and risks.
Choose a project management tool
Now, it's time for you to choose the right software to help you manage your projects, and time for us to talk about our product. 😉
workstreams.ai is workflow management software for easy task organization. We believe in the KISS principle (Keeping It Simple Stupid), so everyone can use it immediately. With its drag-and-drop interface and ready-to-use workstreams templates, you can plan project phases and track progress – and set it all up in just a few clicks.
workstreams.ai integrates with the tools you already use to make task management easier and more efficient. Some of these connections include:
Slack and Microsoft Teams for managing tasks in the same space where you brainstorm ideas
Trello for importing your cards directly into workstreams.ai and automatically turning them into workflows, complete with all its assignees, labels, descriptions, and a constant sync
Webhooks (simple APIs) for pulling data from any app or program you might be using to transfer them into workstreams.ai tasks automatically
Calendars for joining your Gmail and Outlook with our in-app calendar and making the most out of your daily schedule
Other useful features include:
Frozen task function: Identifies which tasks haven’t moved forward in the last couple of days to help you see where you need to divert your attention
Time allocation feature: Tracks the time spent on each task and compares completion times so you can make necessary adjustments
Ownership options: Allows for varied ownership levels that fit your needs, whether you want a single or multiple owners
Sign up here to try it out for yourself. It's 100%, no-strings-attached-free for teams of up to three members.
Regularly monitor and refine
Workflow optimization with monitoring and assessment can refine your strategies, adjust goals, or reallocate resources to make better use of your time, team, and budget. To achieve this, you can:
Workstreams project management is an easy and practical way to make each complicated project feasible. Breaking down complex endeavors into manageable steps, with variables, dependencies, and task allocation, helps to minimize risks, boost productivity, and manage those pesky deadlines.
workstreams.ai is the perfect tool for this, as it has practically no learning curve – and plenty of handy features. It helps you to easily spot frozen tasks, connect data with other sources, prioritize effectively, and track time spent on each step. The software is highly customizable and stupid-simple to navigate.
Sign up to become the project manager of the future – for free and without obligations.
What are project management workstreams?
Workstreams are sets of smaller, focused actions or tasks related to one another. They help organize and streamline large projects, improving the chances for their success and facilitating efficient resource allocation, progress monitoring, and issue resolution.
What is an example of a project workstream?
One example is a “Testing and Quality Assurance” workstream in software development, which involves subtasks such as identifying and fixing bugs, ensuring the software meets quality standards, and conducting thorough testing before deployment.
What is the difference between phases and workstreams?
Phases are the distinct stages in the project timeline, whereas workstreams are the sets of related activities or tasks within each phase.
How do you manage a project with multiple workstreams?
Establish clear goals for every workstream, allocate teams and resources for each, establish dependencies between them, monitor progress regularly, and update the structure as you go. Use project management tools like workstreams.ai to create practical workflows, track tasks, communicate effectively, and collaborate successfully.