Work Management for the Virtual Workforce

Your organization can still deliver on strategy in the midst of a virtual workforce transition. Here’s how.


Across the globe, more and more businesses are rapidly building out their ability to support a virtual workforce with work management solutions. The catalyst for this effort comes from a variety of internal factors, such as when an organization leans on distributed teams as part of their digital transformation or makes remote hires to address talent gaps.  

Virtual workforces can also spring up in response to emergencies such as local disasters or out of concern for employee health and wellness, like we have seen this week at AppleGoogle, and other large organizations 

Whether your company is transitioning to a virtual workforce due to an anticipated long-term shift in strategy or a rapid, temporary response to an unforeseen issue, you don’t want the change to affect the trajectory of your business. And you do want to supportmentor, and empower employees to do their best work, no matter how they work — or where.  

But equipping a virtual workforce for success means more than setting up workers to simply do their jobs remotely — after all, we live in an age where certain technology, like video conferencing and laptop computers, has already transformed coffee shops, libraries, and airports into mobile offices 

If you want to truly move the needle for your business during a time of transitionyou need to enable employees to continue to make progress against your strategic initiativesIn this post, we’ll cover three actions that organizations can take to stay aligned with strategy and remain hyper-focused on delivering value that matters most to the business.   

Dynamic prioritization 

As your company transitions to a virtual workforceit’s essential for teams to keep delivering work that aligns with your strategic goals. While clear priorities are always important, they are even more important when teams that are typically collocated are suddenly collaborating remotely, since the odds of drifting off-strategy are greater. It’s not enough to execute on business-as-usual tasks. You need to keep teams focused on the business’s top priorities, which requires you to align their work to strategic objectives. 

But what happens when your strategy changes? Your priorities this week may not be the right direction for next week. Healthy organizations plan, but their strategy is not so rigid that they can’t adapt to shifts in the market or evolving customer needs. When it comes to arming a virtual workforce with what they need to excel, dynamic prioritization enables employees to always know which work is critical — and which work can wait.  

Real-time transparency  

Even when you set the right priorities, being able to effectively and quickly communicate them is an entirely different challenge. While email and video conferencing have their place, work management solutions that provide real-time transparency can give employees the information they need to deliver confidently on the highest-value projects. Similarly, executives will also have far greater confidence that the work being executed is on-strategy, even as thstrategy changes. 

One way to keep virtual teams aligned and informed is through digital Kanban boards. A powerful visual management tool, the board reflects a team’s own unique process for delivering value, as well as its current work and capacity.  

Teams and their stakeholders can instantly report on progress — without the barriers of working with outdated spreadsheets; or waiting for the next status meeting to surface issues; or worse yet, sending and responding to a deluge of emails, texts, chats, Slacks, etc. With real-time insightleaders can pinpoint capacitymanage work distributionand resolve blockers for their team.  

Collaboration with context 

As anyone who’s worked on a team can tell you, there’s collaboration, and then there’s high-value, locked-in-on-strategy-to-delivery collaboration. Generally, the latter doesn’t happen by accident: It takes bold leaders who empower teams to do their best work, by leveraging software solutions that support how they work best, whether that means traditional, Agile, or hybrid approaches to planning and delivery. 

Like delivering on company strategy“doing your best work” while working to advance a team project or initiative doesn’t happen randomly. It takes collaboration with context — i.e., the necessary combination of visualizing work, managing documents, and enabling conversations within centralizedvirtual workspace supported by intentional team practices.  

Teams can create, iterate, store, and retrieve documents in the same tool they use to track the progress of and share updates on their work. Swivel-chair integration between working and reporting tools shouldn’t be tolerated in the office or remotely. 

Power your virtual workforce with Planview 

During a virtual workforce transition, keeping your core operations up and running is only part of the equation. Teams must be aligned to the priorities of the business so they can continue to deliver work with strategic value — and the continuous delivery of strategic value is the difference between organizations that succeed or struggle with a virtual workforce

Projectplace is a complete solution, considering the document storage, overview, and time schedule features. The possibility to integrate it with Enterprise One can definitely be another step further in Project Management within our organization.” Read the review on TrustRadius.

A cloud-based SaaS solution that supportwork management for teams is necessary, whether you are building out a permanent remote workforce or responding to a temporary worker dislocation. Planview’s work management solutionsLeanKit and Projectplaceare purpose-built to facilitate on-strategy delivery, alignment, and collaboration through shared, digital workspaces. 

LeanKit paired with Agile helps us get work done. We use a form of Kanban and Scrum to run our projects, [and] LeanKit’s flexibility makes it easy to handle different processes with different teams.” Read the review on TrustRadius.

As your partner in transformations both large and small, we provide a FLEX licensing offer that enables organizations to support flexible team delivery, no matter how or where the work gets done. Team members leverage the best delivery tool that helps them achieve their goals and outcomes and stay aligned to corporate strategies and initiatives — even as ways of working, competition, priorities, and the market continue to shift and evolve. 

What you can do now 

  • If you’re a Planview customer and are already using one or both of our work management solutionsthen youve prepared your organization to respond swiftly to a surge in remote collaboration and still deliver on what matters. Share this post with your boss — so he or she can appreciate your forethought — and with your colleagues so they can be prepared, too. 
  • If you’re interested in hearing more about our work management solutions, or how you can FLEX into them as a current customer and connect them to your portfolio management solution to help your organization thrive in the changing world of work, these demoshow how FLEX works with PPM Pro and Enterprise One, respectively. 

How else can we help you reach your goalsLet us know by contacting your account representative or customer success manager. If you’re not a customer, fill out this quick form and we’ll get back to you right away. 

Related Posts


How Savvy PMOs Keep Score to Improve Demand Management

Part 2: Prioritize, analyze, and continuously enhance the process

How Savvy PMOs Keep Score to Improve Demand Management

A shared services mandate challenged a major university to merge three central IT organizations into one. To meet service delivery goals, they had to redefine and implement their IT operations and internal processes. In addition, they needed more than 800 employees to adopt them! Working with IT, the PMO started with demand management and has now reduced approved projects by 75 percent, created a visible pipeline of demand, reduced staff workload, and improved performance.

This example shows the power of demand management to streamline work requests and focus on work that matters to the business – regardless of your industry. In our first segment in this two-part series about improving demand management, we covered the first two guidelines:

  1. How to capture initial work requests, and
  2. Develop a strong work intake process.

Once you’ve gotten some work requests in the system and fine-tuned your process, it’s time to categorize demand, put the work in motion, and determine the results.

That’s right: The Savvy PMO keeps score to ensure that all work contributes to strategic goals and that the system is running as smoothly and effectively as possible. Guidelines three and four are all about instituting a consistent prioritization process based on business objectives and tracking results to demonstrate success as well as continuously improve the process.

3. Evaluate and Generate Key Work Items

Savvy PMOs use prioritization scoring to compare and evaluate work intake requests. Some even establish the prioritization process concurrently with a demand management process for maximum effect. The important point is to select the highest-value initiatives for your organization, based on key business factors.

You can assess and categorize demand in one of two ways:

  1. A simple calculated score of key data, or
  2. A scoring model to represent business metrics.

Have your appropriate gate approvers and stakeholders score on quantitative factors such as return on investment (ROI), or on qualitative ones such as strategic fit, impact, or risk. You can also weigh these factors based on their relative importance.

Use these scores to identify which requests should move forward and be turned into work efforts such as a project, task, action item, or a combination of these. You may decide to delay, set aside for now, or perhaps even reject requests that don’t meet your organization’s scoring criteria. Customize your processes as you see fit, ensuring consistency and continuous improvement throughout the process.

4. Audit, Track, and Improve

To constantly enhance demand management, Savvy PMOs examine the process, determine the results, and then take action. Here are five ways to evaluate how your demand management function is performing – both the work intake process and the completed work – and then make improvements:

A. Analyze Flow: Analyze the number and velocity of requests flowing through the work intake process and adjust as needed to prevent:

  • Redundant requests
  • Requests that progressed too far before being stopped
  • Requests that should not have entered the process to begin with

B. Identify Bottlenecks: Locate the gates that have bottlenecks and are blocking high value requests. Evaluate the request forms and information collected at each gate.

  • Are your reviewers considering the wrong information?
  • Do they not have enough information?
  • Next, look at the gate approvers themselves: Did you identify and assign the right subject matter experts to be approvers?
  • Do the experts need a reminder when a request is sitting at a gate too long?

C. Document and Improve: Identify lessons learned and take corrective actions:

  • Modify and evolve the intake process as your organization grows
  • Keep a history and avoid repeating known mistakes.

D. Segment Work Requests: Make comparisons and analyze impacts by segmenting work requests by score, department, strategic initiative, and other important factors. Your PPM software solution can help you compare and access work request results.

E. Summarize Results: Demonstrate the value of work intake by communicating results and other relevant information to stakeholders. Publish dashboards regularly so that stakeholders can monitor status, improve the process, and facilitate quick execution of strategic work.

Using these four steps to establish demand management, you can choose work that delivers on strategy and drives value:

  1. Capture Initial Work Requests
  2. Direct the Work Intake Process
  3. Evaluate and Generate Key Work Items
  4. Audit, Track, and Improve

In addition to a strong work intake process, the Savvy PMO also effectively prioritizes work and can successfully start resource and capacity planning. They can route requests through the system and re-prioritize frequently as new demand comes in, planning and managing on an ongoing basis.

Read more about these capabilities in our blog series on Prioritization and Resource Planning:


How the Savvy PMO Does Demand Management

Part 1: Improve your work intake process

How the Savvy PMO Does Demand Management

Could your work intake and demand management processes use some sprucing up? Have no fear, the Savvy PMO is here! This blog series is for you whether you are inundated with work requests, need a more streamlined process, require better scoring and prioritization, or have other challenges with demand management.

Using a formalized demand management process, your organization can collect and evaluate work requests consistently and transparently. Your team of experts can objectively assess all incoming work for alignment to strategy, risk mitigation, customer impact, overall improvement, financial benefit, capacity, and more. As a result, you can better select the initiatives that align to your business goals and strategies and continuously deliver value.

In this blog series, we discuss four ways you can improve demand management in your organization. This post covers guidelines one and two.

1. Capture Initial Work Requests

The Savvy PMO knows that employees are a great source of ideas, but they need an easy way to submit them. The challenge is to create a vehicle for work ideas and requests that doesn’t overwhelm the organization. Here’s how to start small and then, once you’ve had some success, gradually increase adoption over time:

  • Collect the right information from the beginning: Design a work intake form suitable for both requesters and approvers. Collaborate with team members to determine required field types and information, including data that should be hidden at certain gates to streamline and simplify the process.
  • Design different request forms as needed: One size does not have to fit all. Create the intake form and approval process best suited for the work being requested, different departments, or sets of requesters.
  • Create an intake flow for work in flight: This will help to manage change requests and update existing work.
  • Initiate the process: Start capturing work ideas and requests from your team(s).

2. Direct the Work Intake Process

Your work intake process should be strategic, consistent, easily understood, and visible to everyone across the organization. A strong process will enable you to kill unnecessary work requests fast, defer or place low-value work on hold, and advance high value work quickly.

Use gates as required to organize the flow, collection, and evaluation of information. Match approval gates to the decision points of your business process. Gather the supporting data and evaluations logically to streamline the process.

The Savvy PMO sets stages such as those depicted in the image below. While this image includes eight stages, these stages may not be required for the type of work being requested. Customize the stages your organization establishes that makes sense for your work intake process.

To smoothly get through these stages or your own customized set, consider doing the following:

  • Trust your experts: Allow your experts to move intake requests along in the process workflow as appropriate. Equip them to evaluate each request’s merits, ask for additional information, and make go/no-go decisions at each gate.
  • Automate the project intake flow: Automation speeds up the process. You can set up automatic notifications for events such as gate entry and requests that have stalled at a gate. You can also alert your approvers when it’s time to take action, along with reminders.
  • Collaborate: Savvy PMOs make it easy for people to communicate, track the process, and complete the work. Enable your experts to document decisions, next steps, and actions within the workflow using notes and attachments. Informed team members can make corrections, solve problems, supply missing information, and even become motivated to innovate on the requested work. Collaborative work management solutions can make communication seamless, especially when integrated into your central PPM system.

In part 2 of this blog series, we’ll cover the last two demand management steps:

  1. Evaluate and Generate Key Work Items: Categorization and prioritization
  2. Audit, Track, and Improve: Continuously enhancing the process

If you simply cannot wait for the details on all four steps, download the full eBook with a helpful checklist you can use to start or improve your demand management process: “The Savvy PMO’s Guide to Demand Management.”