Using business intelligence tools to prevent team burnout

This is a guest blogpost by Andrew Filev, founder and CEO, Wrike.

Since no business wants to leave money on the table, it’s tempting to try to squeeze as much productivity as possible out of your workforce to execute every campaign, programme, and project available.

The problem with this approach is that it’s unsustainable. In a survey of 1,500 workers commissioned by Wrike last year, nearly 26% of respondents said, “If my stress levels don’t change, I’ll burn out in the next 12 months.” Work is moving faster, demand on workers is increasing, and digital, while a massive enabler of growth, is also contributing to our increasing stress.

A core way to fight this stress epidemic in 2019 is for businesses to bring more intelligence to work. This will enable executives and managers to make smarter decisions on effort allocation to drive desired results – rather than wasting time and energy on what amounts to being just activity.

Assessing which work makes the biggest impact is an impossible task for many teams without business intelligence. If your company is managing work through emails and spreadsheets, project details are rarely up to date, and even when details are current, they are often too fragmented to tie to business impact.

By now, you’ve probably got your strategic plan for 2019 completed, and are wondering how you’re going to achieve all your goals – and how you’re going to keep your team focused on the most impactful. The first step, in my view, is to leverage a robust collaborative work management (CWM) platform. This will allow your teams to optimise processes with automation, templates, and real-time workflow analytics. From there the data collected within the CWM can be connected to a business intelligence (BI) solution, where it can be translated into actionable insights on project efficiency and ROI.

These insights aren’t just valuable for the sanity of your workforce (though sanity is a noble reason on its own). They’re essential in making your business more efficient and bringing continuous improvement – fuelled by real data and metrics – into your culture. Marketers use analytics to measure the ROI of an ad, and sales leaders measure the effectiveness of specific strategies and tactics to their revenue goals. But for a lot of other knowledge work positions, measuring how work impacts specific company OKRs [Objective and Key Results] isn’t so clear.

The possibilities for such insights that executives can glean from integrated CWM and BI platforms are unprecedented in decision making. For example, if a high-performing business unit shows signs of bottlenecks in a particular phase of work, you know it’s time to boost its headcount. On the contrary, if a major initiative is shown to take a lot of work, but not move the needle, maybe it’s time to reassign that talent to more profitable projects. This may have been possible before, but only after problems made a noticeable impact on deliverables.

Traditional BI integrations with ERP, CRM, and finance systems aren’t enough to fuel these insights. Nor are rigid legacy PPM [Project Portfolio Management] systems built to manage both the structured and unstructured methods or collaborative ways that most teams execute work today, which has limited their adoption to primarily formal project managers and the PMO office.

While those tools are all important, CWM software offers flexibility across teams, departments, and projects, making company-wide adoption not only possible, but far more likely. Once deployed, the data CWMs collect becomes invaluable for measuring the return on effort throughout an organisation with real-time updates about time to completion, delays, effort, and team effectiveness. It offers the ability to bring hard numbers to business operations that had previously been left to guesswork.

Connecting work to impact with business intelligence is a critical step for any business trying to stay competitive in the digital transformation and bringing excellence to operations for both B2C and B2B companies that are under pressure to deliver on-demand products to customers. As a business scales, you can’t throw projects at the wall and see what sticks – that will ultimately burn out teams and lead to a lot of misguided effort. BI and CWM technology is the smartest way to keep teams focused on the most important work in 2019, so their workloads are balanced, and their stress levels are low.

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