Project Management

Let’s return to the report we created in our last series, “Advanced Views”. Recall, we added two additional custom columns that displayed data for Days Remaining and Hours Remaining. For each custom View, we leveraged the following functions:

  • displayname
  • valueexpression
  • valueformat
  • textmode

Similarly, we will use many of the functions above within an advanced Grouping, but the syntax will be different.

Unlike advanced Views, advanced Groupings begin with “group.[#].” before identifying the function. When you create your Groupings using the standard user interface, you are limited to three groupings for a standard list or, four groupings when leveraging the matrix setting. However, you can add more groupings when you create your own advanced Groupings but be careful. The more groupings you add to a standard object list report, the messier your report will look.

The syntax for each line within an advanced Grouping reads: group.[#].function. The [#] portion of the text mode identifies which Grouping the function belongs to. Groupings start at 0 and continue to increase by one. For example, the first Grouping in a report is actually group.0.function. The second Grouping is group.1.function and so on. The only exception to the rule is the line for textmode. The textmode line does not use the same format of group.[#].function, but is written as textmode=true (identical to advanced Views).

 

Challenge:

Our work license users want the “My Tasks Due This Week” report to group their tasks by timeliness: LATE, ON TIME, UPCOMING.

  • LATE: Defined as any task with a planned completion date less than today’s date.
  • ON-TIME: Defined as any task with a planned completion date equal to today’s date.
  • UPCOMING: Defined as any task with a planned completion date greater than today’s date.

 

Solution:

We will create custom advanced Groupings to group tasks under the three labels identified above: LATE, ON TIME, and UPCOMING.

Your report will go from this:

To this:

 

In Advanced Groupings Part II, we are going to discuss how to write the custom text mode to solve the challenge.

In the previous blog, “Create Reports Like a Pro! Advanced Views Part II”, we did not have a chance to mention the differences between the Task and Assignment report syntax. If you review the Task object within the API Explorer, you will notice that an Assignment is both a referenced and collected object to the Task object. If you create an Assignment report and you need to reference the task object in your text mode, you need to first specify the task object and then the field.

For example, in the code below, when I reference the plannedCompletionDate, I preface the field with {task}. This tells Workfront that I am calling the Task object’s planned completion date value. Therefore, whenever you create an object report that references a connecting object, add the object enclosed by curly brackets first, followed by a period, and then the referenced object’s field enclosed by curly brackets.

The “My Tasks Due This Week Report” will impress all of your work license users now that you’ve leveraged advanced Views and Groupings. The benefits of adding advanced Groupings to reports and object lists are:

  • Group data in ways that are not native in the standard user interface.
    • The grouping uses an advanced valueexpression to categorize each task rather than leveraging a task field.
  • Control how the grouping displays to your users.
    • The grouping categorizes each task as either LATE, ON TIME, UPCOMING depending on the day of the week and the task’s planned completion date
  • Enhance the user experience by creating dynamic advanced groupings
    • The advanced grouping updates day by day and recategorizes each task using an advanced calculation

Before I share the Task and Assignment text mode code, it is important to note that you cannot create a chart using advanced Groupings or Views. Charts must use either native object fields or custom fields.

The text mode code for both Task and Assignment reports is found below:

Task Report Advanced Grouping Text Mode:

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textmode=true
group.0.valueexpression=IF(DAYOFWEEK({plannedCompletionDate})
<DAYOFWEEK(DATE($$TODAY)),”LATE”,IF(DAYOFWEEK({plannedCompletionDate})=DAYOFWEEK(DATE($$TODAY)),”ON
TIME”,IF(DAYOFWEEK({plannedCompletionDate})>DAYOFWEEK(DATE($$TODAY)),”UPCOMING”,”N/A”)))
{plannedCompletionDate})>DAYOFWEEK(DATE($$TODAY)),”UPCOMING”,”N/A”)))
group.0.valueformat=HTML

Assignment Report Advanced Grouping Text Mode:

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group.0.valueexpression=IF(DAYOFWEEK({task}.{plannedCompletionDate})
<DAYOFWEEK(DATE($$TODAY)),”LATE”,IF(DAYOFWEEK({task}.
{plannedCompletionDate})=DAYOFWEEK(DATE($$TODAY)),”ON
TIME”,IF(DAYOFWEEK({task}.
{plannedCompletionDate})>DAYOFWEEK(DATE($$TODAY)),”UPCOMING”,”N/A”)))
group.0.valueformat=HTML
textmode=true

 

Stay tuned for the next blog in our series as we are going to discuss advanced filters!

 

You are officially on your way to becoming a great Workfront Administrator! You know how to troubleshoot, create a feedback queue, and you have just learned how to read and use Workfront’s API Explorer. Now, let us focus on creating reports and dashboards that are effective and prompt our users to take action.

Every report shares four common areas: Views (Columns), Groupings, Filters, and Charts. We will cover Groupings, Filters, and Charts in later blogs but for now, we are going to focus on creating Advanced Views within a report.

A View on a report displays native and custom data for a given object (the object of a report). Let’s recall the lessons learned from the API Explorer blog. For a given object, you can leverage standard and custom object data, referenced object data, and object collections. Now, let’s create a report to help workers view key performance indicators for tasks they are assigned to.

 

Challenge:

Our work license users want to see how many days are left until the task is late and they want to see how many hours they have left on their tasks.

 

Solution:

Your initial reaction may be to create a Task report. A Task report will work if your organization assigns a single user to a Task. If your organization assigns multiple users to a Task, you will want to create an Assignment report. Don’t worry, the text mode code will be available for both Task and Assignment reports in Part III.

In our example, we will create a Task report with two custom text-mode columns. Days Remaining, and Hours Remaining. Both custom text mode fields are not available through the standard interface.

To create both columns, you need to know the different components of the text mode code we will develop. We will leverage the following functions:

  • displayname
  • valueexpression
  • valueformat
  • textmode

 

The displayname function will display the label name for the column. The valueexpression function enables users to develop formulas for advanced calculations to display data otherwise not available in the standard user interface. The valueformat function allows users to display the data in a variety of formats on a report. Lastly, the textmode function is used to identify the column as custom rather standard.

 

In Part II, we will create the custom text mode code to create both columns: Days Remaining, and Hours Remaining.

 

Now that you have a Workfront Requests queue to track errors, it is time to show our admins how to troubleshoot Workfront using a real-life example (with historical Revolutionary War heroes as our users). 

Remember, in the first article titled, “Think Like a Workfront Admin: What is Troubleshooting?” we discussed four fundamental questions to ask after reviewing the technical support ticket: 

In addition, we identified the process for troubleshooting errors in Workfront: 

Let’s attempt to solve George Washington’s error in Workfront. 

George Washington submitted a request to the Workfront Requests queue as a Technical Support request. After reviewing the form, we have identified the error involves a report on a layout template: 

Based on the custom form, we can identify three out of four fundamental questions when reviewing Workfront errors: 

        1. George Washington is attempting to view a list of active projects he owns on the “My Active Projects” report in Workfront.
        2. George Washington has the Planner Access Level.
        3. George Washington’s Layout Template is Creative Director (based on the ID in the Custom Form).

 

The last question we need to answer is, “Does the user have the correct sharing permissions on the corresponding object?” In this case, we need to review the sharing rights on the “My Active Projects” report. 

Upon further investigation, we have identified that George Washington does have the correct sharing permissions for the “My Active Projects” report. The report is visible system-wide, without restrictions: 

 

Now it’s time to follow the troubleshooting process! 

      1. Answer the four fundamental questions for troubleshooting errors in Workfront.
      2. Log in as George Washington in Workfront. 
      3. Replicate the error by navigating to the Projects area and viewing the “My Active Projects” report. Picture 1 shows the results that George sees when reviewing the report and picture 2 shows the results George should see but does not:

 

 4. In order to properly resolve the error, we need to further investigate the key features of the report. 

          • First, review the report’s filters and determine that the filters are set up correctly (we use wildcards to make the report dynamic).

          • Next, review the report’s settings and notice that we accidentally set the “Run this report with the Access Rights of Andy Koprowski.” When selecting a user in the “Run this report with the Access Rights of” field, it will overwrite the existing filters of the report. So, instead of viewing active projects with an owner ID equal to $$USER.ID, the report will instead show all active reports owned by Andy Koprowski. 

          • To resolve the error, remove Andy Koprowski from the field, “Run this report with the Access Rights of” and save changes to the report.
          • Next, log back in as George Washington and confirm that the update to the report resolves the error: George can now view all of his active projects.

          • Remember to respond to the error ticket, informing the user that the error has been resolved and move the status of the ticket to Closed. 

 

In our next blog in the “Think Like a Workfront Admin” series, we will discuss how to create advanced reports using advanced views.

In the previous article, we discussed what is troubleshooting and what to expect as a Workfront System Administrator. Now, it is time to shift our focus to Workfront queues.

What is a Workfront Queue?

A Workfront queue refers to a special type of project that stores requests, issues, change orders, and bug reports submitted by Workfront users. Organizations traditionally use queues to capture requests and develop a working backlog of active issues that Workfront System Administrators will resolve. Every organization that leverages Workfront should have a version of a Workfront Request queue.

A successful Workfront Requests queue has the following features:

  • Project name: is informative and clearly articulates the queue’s purpose
  • Project status: equates with a status of Current (this activates the queue)
  • Queue topics: are easy to understand
  • Custom forms: have the appropriate fields to adequately capture the error
  • Other features:
      • The project is published as a Help Request Queue
      • The project enables “Anyone” to add requests to the queue

 

We have successfully outlined the characteristics of a functioning Workfront Requests queue and you are probably thinking, what does an example queue look like? Fortunately, you are in luck. Below is an example queue structure that many successful Workfront organizations use to capture Workfront issues submitted by their workforce.

  • Project name: Workfront Requests
  • Project status: Queue (equates with Current)
  • Queue topic structure:
      • Technical Support
      • Enhancement Idea
  • Custom forms: contain fields to identify the object/area of Workfront experiencing the error, space to describe the error in detail, and a final message to nudge the user to submit any photo/video proof of the error

There are many benefits to having a Workfront Requests queue, but the benefits are not just for Workfront System Administrators. Providing a Workfront Requests queue empowers your users to take control of errors and improves error resolution communication. In addition, logging errors helps Workfront System Administrators conduct intelligent and meaningful conversations with their Workfront Account Executives, Customer Success Managers, and Support Engineers. The more detail captured per error, the better equipped you and Workfront Support will be to quickly resolve the error.

Lastly, creating a Workfront Requests queue that captures technical support requests (errors) and enhancement ideas (product enhancements), supports your organization’s Workfront governance model. Users will build a product backlog of enhancement ideas, which can be routed to your Workfront Governance team. Rather than assuming the enhancement idea is valid and should be resolved, the Workfront Governance team can discuss the idea, determine the ROI of the idea, the overall impact to your user group, and ultimately decide if the enhancement is worth pursuing.

We will be returning to the idea of a Workfront Governance team and structure in a later series.

If you are struggling with your Aprimo solution, you’re not alone. Of the enterprise organizations that engaged LeapPoint to help resolve their work management challenges, many already had a legacy Aprimo solution in place. 


Here are the Top 5 challenges they are experiencing:

  • User Interface: Aprimo’s user interface isn’t intuitive; non-technical resources find it particularly challenging. 
  • Configuration Limitations: Configuration is difficult and often requires process changes which result in longer release durations, negatively impacts time to value and limits user adoption.
  • System Complexity: Complex work often can’t be effectively managed with Aprimo. Our users remark that many workflows are over-engineered and/or too rigid.
  • Information Storage: The data and in-progress documents related to workflows are neither centrally stored nor easily accessible.
  • Reporting: There is an inability to see the big picture from an operational perspective due to a lack of useful insights from Aprimo reports. As a result, reporting efforts are manual and time-consuming.  

Why choose Workfront as your platform for enterprise work management?

As a result of challenges with Aprimo, here is why organizations are switching to Workfront:

  • Intuitive UI: Workfront offers an intuitive user interface and dynamic functionality which benefits both end-users and system administrators (including iPhone and Android apps) and facilitates collaboration.
  • System Flexibility: Workfront’s flexible configuration capabilities enable organizations to adjust the user experience and enable client-specific processes and approvals. 
  • Storage: Workfront serves as a centralized, operational system of record for information and in-progress documents, including real-time proofing capabilities
  • Interoperability: Workfront provides a seamless integration with Adobe AEM, as well as a number of top enterprise tools and systems (marketing, financial, human resources, productivity, and many more).
  • Analytics & Insights: Advanced reporting and dashboard capabilities by persona provide decision-makers with the analytics and insights they need to make timely and accurate business decisions.

I’m interested in transitioning from Aprimo to Workfront. Where do I begin? 

Start by recognizing that this effort is more than just a tool swap. Successfully improving your work management solution involves driving the transformation of people, processes, data, and technology across your enterprise with minimal impact to your current operations and resources. 

LeapPoint understands Workfront, and we provide services to help you realize the full potential of your platform. The following are the 3 key themes we focus on, to facilitate a smooth and successful transition…

Engaging LeapPoint as your experienced and trusted partner is key to a seamless transition. A a certified Workfront partner since 2014, we bring the valuable direction, expertise, insights, best practices and thought leadership that your organization needs in order to achieve sustainable results.

At LeapPoint, we recognize that your ways of working will continue to grow and evolve over time. That’s why we focus on leveraging a proven methodology to deliver scalable work management solutions all while enabling resources to adopt and adapt Workfront.

 

Why wait? 

Talk to us about making the transition from Aprimo to Workfront.

Thank you for checking out Part 4 of our Evolution of Modern Work series.  If you’re just tuning in, check out Parts 1, 2, and 3 where we have walked through the history of work to arrive at the conclusion that the only way to master modern work is through the intelligent integration of best of breed systems, including an Operational System of Record.   

We’re here at our last stop in this journey – why do I need to master modern work? We’ll start with why and then we’ll meet some of the organizations that are on their “A-Game” in mastering modern work. 

Enterprise Business Outcomes

Surging consumer confidence and record-breaking market milestones have been the norm for the last few years.  But leading expert predictions and economic indicators are signaling a downshift.  Pair that with an increasingly chaotic political environment and heading into a Presidential-election year: in 2019-2020, we may not see the same upward curve.

Organizations that enter this uncertainty excelling at the essentials will be able to devote scarce resources to innovation; competitors, mired in the chaos of undisciplined modern work, are already struggling and most certainly won’t be able to keep up.

With the virtuous circle created by intelligent integrations of best of breed systems, including the Operational System of Record – where strategy, operations, and tactics are all tightly aligned, an organization can drive and achieve enterprise business outcomes:

  • Increase operational efficiency, reduce operational spend
  • Infuse innovation and digital change into the business
  • Create a hard-to-replicate competitive advantage
  • Enhance customer experience and employee satisfaction
  • Maximize return on investment and shareholder value

 

Meet the A-Gamers

There are organizations already on their journey to mastering modern work through the intelligent integration of best of breed systems to drive enterprise business outcomes.  In the public and private sectors, these organizations are at the top of their game – they’re the A-Gamers, bringing the A-Game.

A-Game Enterprises  

With an executive champion and full C-suite support, the A-Game Enterprise is fully integrated and marching in unison toward enterprise business outcomes.  The CIO likely leads the charge; with enterprise reach, deep insight into the technology landscape and ecosystem, and increasing demand in an environment of shrinking budgets, the CIO is uniquely positioned to bring the A-Game to fruition. These same organizations will likely be the early-adopters of a new C-suite role we’ll see emerge: the Chief Work Officer – a role dedicated to the invaluable asset of work.

A-Game Organizational Units

With a departmental champion, the A-Game Organizational Unit is fully integrated and marching in unison toward departmental goals that support enterprise business outcomes. Any organizational unit can be A-Game and even without initial enterprise buy-in, the A-Game Organizational Unit soon stands out – with strategy, operations, and tactics aligned, and actionable insights gained through the Operational System of Record, the A-Game Organizational Unit emerges as the most prepared, the most responsive, the most productive, the most resilient – a master of modern work.

A-Game Leaders

Even if the enterprise or organizational unit hasn’t adopted the A-Game, the A-Game Leader forges ahead. He or she knows the value of the A Game and champions the cause in his or her world of work. Portfolio / Program / Project Management Office Leaders are examples of A-Game Leaders.

Check out some of the A-Gamers LeapPoint has had the privilege of partnering with throughout their A-Game journey.

 

Thank you for joining us for our Evolution of Modern Work series.  Want to know more about mastering modern work and the A-Game?  Join us on our 13-city tour – The A-Game, Powered by LeapPoint; find out more at www.leappoint.com

Thank you for checking out Part 3 of our Evolution of Modern Work series. If you’re not caught up, check out Part 1  and Part 2. In these two parts, we introduced the pre-Digital Revolution concept of work and how it fundamentally transformed with the introduction of technology. We then explored the two phases of Enterprise Work Management that aimed to address the challenges of modern work but didn’t quite get us there.

Modern Work, Mastered

Today, we’ll see how the adoption of best of breed systems was a significant first step in addressing the challenges of modern work. But to bring your A-Game, your systems must be paired with Intelligent Integrations, and something called an Operational System of Record.

Intelligent Integrations

If we think back to what organizations were trying to accomplish with big-box systems and custom development – “a common frame of reference for work across the organization.” – It becomes evident that disconnected best of breeds don’t make the cut.

It is not by chance, then, that incredibly agile integration technologies are flourishing in the best of breed era. There are four best practices, depending on the integration scenario:

1. Application Program Interfaces (APIs): An API is a connection between two systems for very specific purposes (e.g., pulling a Customer ID from System A for use in System B). Out-of-the-box APIs are incredibly common in nearly all SaaS. Particularly in best of breed systems so that they can “talk” to other systems to create a more seamless user experience across platforms.

2. Integration Platform As A Service (iPaaS): iPaaS is identical to APIs in purpose and outcome, but they offer extreme, codeless agility in connecting any Cloud-based systems – whether they have existing APIs or not.

3. Custom Integrations: Custom integrations remain an option, particularly in complex integrations or when integration involves any system that is not Cloud-based – some on-premise and legacy systems.

4. Robotics Process Automation (RPA): RPA is an appropriate option when the integration involves automating a highly repeatable process that occurs frequently and requires human interaction.

But let’s return to the example from APIs. Let’s say that the Customer ID pulled from System A for use in System B is then used by an Analyst to do a lookup on a public website. If she is performing 500 Customer ID searches a day, this is an excellent use case for RPA – automating the process and opening up the Analyst’s time for higher-value work.

But merely connecting the best of breed systems is not enough. In the same way that the human body operates through a complex neural network and all governed from a central command – our integrated best of breed network must also be connected and governed from a central command.

Operational System of Record

Every major asset of an organization has a dedicated system of record to administer, track, and manage the asset: human resource management systems for employees, customer relationship management systems for prospects and customers, financial management systems for money and transactions, contracts management systems for contracts, and so on. But what about work?

Work as an Asset

If we recall the characterization of work in the modern workplace, it’s the shepherding of information from one place to another. Information as an asset is not a new concept. The likes of Gartner and even the current US Federal Government Administration have laid out strategies for leveraging data as a strategic asset and championed the resurrection of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) role.

Another compelling case for work as an asset come from Harvard Business Review. They note that small ideas, borne at the proverbial water cooler, often make their way into business processes. And over time, more and more of these small ideas create a sort of intangible intellectual property – one that wouldn’t be showcased in a product or service or documented in a patent. These ideas become powerful differentiators that are extremely difficult for competitors to replicate.

Work is an invaluable asset on-par in value with, if not greater than, all other corporate assets. Institutional investors, who make investments based on hard, tangible, qualitative measures are looking at softer, more intangible measures because of a rather shocking discovery: “The most valuable aspects of jobs are now, ‘the most essentially human tasks: Sensing, judging, creating, and building relationships.’ A great deal of a company’s value now lies ‘between the ears of its employees.’ And this means that when someone leaves a company, he takes his value with him – more often than not, straight to the competition.”

Work Management “Systems”

Whether we acknowledge work as an asset or not, we are tracking it. Both structured work (e.g., planned project tasks) and unstructured work (e.g., an instant message conversation) are both tracked in systems, in documents, and our heads. We’ve even connected many of these tracking mechanisms through the integration methods described above. But connecting the dots still hasn’t revealed the big picture: Are the right people enabled by the right tools? And are they working on the right things, at the right time in the right way to achieve the right business outcomes?

Operational System of Record

The Operational System of Record (OSR) is the central command of our work neural network, the dedicated system of record for work. Work itself may be carried out in the connected best of breed systems. The OSR’s role is to create a virtuous circle, where tightly aligned strategy, operations, and tactics are planned, executed, measured, and adjusted in the context of enterprise business outcomes. The OSR achieves the organizational alignment of the Good Ole Days while capitalizing on the very best technology has to offer.

 

Stay tuned for Part 4 of our Evolution of Modern Work series. In Part 4, we’ll delve into why mastering modern work is incredibly important. Additionally, I’ll introduce you to some of the organizations that are at the top of their game – the A-Game – in mastering modern work.

 

Thank you for checking out Part 2 of 4 of our Evolution of Modern Work series.  If you’re just tuning in, check out Part 1 – The Good Ole Days, where we introduced the pre-Digital Revolution concept of work and how it fundamentally transformed with the introduction of digital technology. Today, we explore 2 phases of Enterprise Work Management that aimed to address the challenges of modern work but didn’t quite get us there. 

Enterprise Work Management 1.0

Organizations adopted one of two approaches in hopes of harnessing the power of IT to adapt to the new world of work:  behemoth proprietary solutions or rigid and complex custom development.

The behemoth solutions offered a wholesale approach – covering commonplace business functions like Human Resources, Finance, Marketing, and more – and customization through configuration.  The singular platform was beneficial in that it anchored the organization – in the same way, the conference room did in The Good Ole Days – with a common frame of reference for strategy, priorities, and changing conditions.

But the solutions were “an inch deep and a mile wide,” offering “good enough” business process automation.  And because these big-box solutions were once seen as the linchpin to the modern work conundrum, vendors were able to – and even to this day in many organizations – lock buyers into expensive, complex licensing agreements.

The custom development option offered more customization but at the expense of “recreating the wheel” for very common, fundamental features and functions.  Custom development was also time/resource intensive; and in particular, during the Waterfall days, development could take months if not longer – and then, often failed to meet the intent of business requirements defined much earlier in the software development life cycle.

Both options offered pros and cons, but neither achieved what organizations were truly after:  a common frame of reference for work across the organization, configured with the fundamental business processes and configurable for the unique nuances of the organization.

 

Enterprise Work Management 2.0: Best of breed Systems

Enter the era of best of breeds:  in the “there’s an app for that” age, we’ve seen SaaS companies with deep understanding of a specific business function (e.g. Human Resources, Finance, etc.) developing highly customizable solutions built on a solid foundation of out-of-the-box functionality for optimizing the automation of common business processes.

Rather than recreate the wheel, organizations can use the SaaS foundation as a springboard for optimizing their business processes and automation, and then customize as needed through codeless or code-lite configuration. Best of breed systems also enable a modular technology ecosystem.  Modularity has two benefits:

  • Swap-In, Swap-Out Agility: Technology evolves rapidly and in the same way that an organization doesn’t want to be beholden to one of the wholesale platforms, it shouldn’t be obliged to stick with a best of breed when a better best in breed emerges.
  • Best (Fit) of Breed: The implied meaning of best of breed is something along the lines of “this is the best system for X of all the systems that do X”.  In that context, one might visit a Gartner Magic Quadrant report to find the Leaders in a particular area – these are the best of breeds.

But best of breed can also mean the best fit.  An organization may need the Leader for a customer relationship management system but may need a Niche Player product for its contract management system because of its business model.  Best of breed modularity allows organizations to pick and choose the right tools for their business needs, budget, risk-appetite, etc.

In some cases, best of breeds have received a bad rap for creating functional silos. There are two reasons for the accusation:

  • Technology Sprawl: or the uncontrolled proliferation of technology within an organization, is an environment where best of breed solutions thrive:  someone identifies a need, finds a simple app to fulfill the need, and installs the app – no questions are asked. In more recent years, the IT community at large has a collective light-bulb moment that technology sprawl was not the fault any particular technology, but of missing enterprise IT governance – where needs and proposed solutions for those needs are evaluated in a much more holistic context before decisions are made and acted upon.
  • Limited Integrations: Until more recently, the technical agility for connecting a nearly infinite number of apps and applets was nonexistent.  If organizations wanted to connect systems, custom integrations were the only option.  But that’s no longer the case…

 

 

 

Stay tuned for Part 3 of our Evolution of Modern Work series, where we uncover that best of Breeds systems, when paired with intelligent integrations and something called an Operational System of Record, is the answer to the challenges of modern work.  Catching up? Read part 1 – The Good Ole Days

Thank you for checking out Part 1 of 4 of our Evolution of Modern Work series.  By the end of the series, we’ll be back here in 2019 and even peeking into 2020 and beyond, talking about what it takes to survive and thrive in this era of modern work. 

But today, our journey begins pre-Digital Revolution, pre-internet, pre-“I have 37 notification icons blinking at me right now on 3 different devices”, or better known as The Good Ole Days. 

The Good Ole Days

The idea that all business processes across an enterprise share a single mission was once an obvious concept; picture the Mad Men office where everyone from the C-suite to the front line was connected through highly-structured, yet fairly primitive communication and execution mechanisms because technology had not yet enabled more complex and expeditious methods of getting things done.

With teams fairly centralized, and the typewriter and rotary phone the keystones of modern workplace technology, staying focused on the mission-critical priorities was nowhere near the quagmire it is today.

Since this scene is so far removed from what we experience in the workplace today, it may be hard to imagine how anything got done; even though everyone may have been quite literally sitting at the table, they didn’t have the tools we consider essential to doing work today.

But there was much accomplished.  Think post-World War II –men were returning home and to work, women were contributing to the workforce in unprecedented numbers – the economy was booming, consumer confidence and national morale soaring.  The Civil Rights movement began, the structure of DNA was uncovered, the polio vaccine and the first organ transplants was bringing hope to the afflicted.  And the computer, which would forever change the way we work, made the leap from exclusive science labs and war rooms to the business office.

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.” Editor of Prentice Hall business books, 1957

 

Problems + Solutions = More Problems

Throughout the dawning of the Digital Revolution, as technology evolved more rapidly and adoption expanded with innovations becoming more accessible and affordable, the modern workplace, too, evolved.

Among other fundamental shifts, the very characterization of “team” changed – geographically dispersed teammates, connected by global networks (and able to visit in-person more easily thanks to parallel technology advances in the travel industry) were able to collaborate quickly and around the clock.

Similarly, the concept of “work” was entirely reimagined, where the physical became digital.  Where “work” was once a tangible object – definable, measurable, and repeatable, it became abstract – a new and strange concept where the workforce simply ushered information from one place to another.

In this new world, where the bottom line was hinged upon these dispersed teams, collaborating (faster than ever before) to shepherd information, a new problem emerged:  the old administration mechanisms couldn’t keep up with this new world of work.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Evolution of Modern Work series, where we introduce the 2 phases of Enterprise Work Management that aimed to address the challenges of modern work but didn’t quite get us there.