Work Operating System (work OS) Work Management Tool Tutorial:
What Is a work OS?
A Work Operating System (work OS) is a cloud-based, common software platform for work where teams plan, organize, execute and track day to day work, comprising workflows, projects, initiatives, epics, and tasks.
By using this tool, teams can reach their shared goals while being in sync with the metrics, benchmarks, and processes in their workplace.
Being a team leader, it’s never easy to manage and track the work. You are responsible for ensuring if the projects, processes, and everyday work get delivered within the defined timelines, budget and resources. But, in today’s fast-paced and complex work environment, managing work is really challenging.
An effective team leader needs to bring the team together, coordinate with various people from different teams, deal with different opinions and ideas about work, and make sure that the work gets done in an organized way.
As a leader or manager, you may need to interact with people from a variety of in-house and external teams, and also with teams who are sitting at overseas locations. So, you need to overcome barriers that are caused to time zone differences, to and fro emails, long Skype calls, too many spreadsheets, etc.
Additionally, when the team members use different platforms for communication, documentation and managing the work, it becomes really challenging to consolidate the status, get the correct picture of the work and meet timelines.
What You Will Learn:
- A Complete Overview of work OS
- Top work OS Vendors
A Complete Overview of work OS
To deal with all the challenges involved in the workplace and make your work happen in an organized & systematic manner while ensuring transparency and effective collaboration, the best way is to have an efficient and reliable Work Operating System deployed at your workplace.
In this tutorial, we will take you through a tour of work OS – what it is, how it works, what are its benefits, and use cases along with the best Work Operating Systems that can help you to stay organized and facilitate effective collaboration at work.
The work OS Brings Everyone Together Under One Roof
As a manager or team leader, you must be aware of the threats of organizational silos. Silos occur in a company when the departments or teams do not share information, goals, priorities, tools, and processes with each other.
This mentality affects business operations, and weak collaboration makes it difficult for teams to make data-driven decisions, low down employee morale and cause the overall failure of a business or its products, services, and culture.
A good Work Operating System demolishes the organizational silos by offering all teams and departments a common shared platform wherein stakeholders, team members, managers, leaders can look for everything they want related to the project. There is a single source of truth and everyone has access to the same information while planning and working on tasks.
The work OS is a centralized hub for data sharing, and it does a lot more than that. It is a comprehensive work hub that brings every facet of work i.e. projects, programs, initiatives, ideas, epics, tools, processes, metrics collectively at one place where all information is easily accessible.
This centralized hub keeps everyone in the organization connected, aligned and focused on work that impacts executives and workers at all levels of organizations. It also helps in ensuring that the individuals and departmental goals are aligned with the organizational goals.
Need And Types Of work OS
The work OS offerings have emerged in this fast-paced work environment. Teams need to be really quick, cross-functional, autonomous, collaborative, highly productive and efficient in order to beat the competition and provide top-grade customer experiences.
To handle this type of complex, changing work environments where collaboration is of great importance, a Work Operating System is needed so all the work and related artifacts can be maintained at one single place and be easily accessible to all.
In recent times, several universal trends in the IT and knowledge-based organizations have also expediated the need for this OS.
These trends include:
- Enterprise Agility / Use of Agile Methodology: These days, organizations are adopting agile methodology to stay flexible and adaptable to meet the changing customer needs. Organizations are undergoing digital transformation to attain enterprise agility with a flat hierarchy and independent teams.
- The democratization of Project Management: As we are moving towards the concept of autonomous teams, project management skills are expected from all the employees. So, a work OS helps there in keeping the individual’s, team’s and organization’s KPOs in sync.
- Digital Transformation Frequently Causes Data silos: Companies use various new technologies to manage work and streamline processes. Yet, there are some departments and functions within an organization that continue to use their own specialized tools like CRM for sales, ERP for finances, etc. These tools become disconnected, thereby leading to data silos in the organization.
- Cross-team Collaboration is Challenging, In spite of Technological Improvements: As the ownership of processes and information is spread across locations and time zones, remote workplaces need a way to manage this complexity and be faster & adaptive.
- Autonomous and Independent Teams: The concept of autonomous and independent teams in agile sometimes results in mini organizations within a big organization. Teams start functioning autonomously without collaboration with other teams and with no sync with business goals. This results in data silos, collaborative silos, and operational silos.
work OS gives way to the organization to attain organizational agility, digital transformation, cross-team collaboration, and independent teams, without creating silos.
Types of work Operating Systems
work OS offerings vary from generalized to specialized versions. There can be the generalized type of work operating systems with maximum flexibility that serves various levels/horizontals in any organization across all functions.
There can also be a specialized Work Operating System designed explicitly for verticals like Manufacturing, Healthcare, Finance, Education, Retail, Media, Construction, etc.
Who Is work OS For?
Of course, a Work Operating System is super useful for managers and leaders to get the work managed efficiently, nevertheless, the users of this OS are everyone across the organization. It is suitable for teams of every size as it is flexible to cater to the needs of any process, task or workflow.
Instead of any specific subgroup, it is built for all employees in an organization. So, be it a developer, tester, analyst member of an agile team, team leader, project manager, program manager, stakeholder, department head, or even a C-level executive – all can get benefitted from this tool.
The offering of such software can be employed in all types and sizes of businesses ranging from SMBs (Small or Medium Scale Business) to enterprises A Work Operating System provides different levels of functionalities that will vary in the ease of use and flexibility.
Capabilities And Features Of A Work Operating System
An effective work OS should possess the following capabilities and features:
- Customizable Workflows: It should allow you to customize workflows to fit according to the various needs of individuals, teams, and organizations. It employs operational building blocks to allow users to create workflows and obtain data. Users can split down and rebuild workflows to deal with increasing complexity over time and serve a wide range of applications and teams.
- Workflow Automation: It should have the ability to automate repetitive jobs. This aims to remove human error and redundant manual effort. Automation happens both inside the OS and across the applications & tools that the teams use. This automation is code less and is basically intended for business users to cut down manual operational work and focus on what actually matters.
- Organization-wide use: Preferably, it should be flexible enough to deal with all types of work within the organization. Everyone in the organization should be able to use it easily. It should have controlled autonomy to facilitate teams to work in a way that suits them best.
- Data Capturing: It should capture all data generating from manual or automated actions, to make the data complete and comprehensible. The availability of data enables teams to become smarter and progress constantly. This offers tractability to supervise any business process and it’s business units (For Example, Handling travel requests, Managing marketing events, Support tickets, Resource onboarding).
- Structured Data Store and Data Sharing: A Work Operating System stores all work-related artifacts and assets at one commonplace. This saves time and effort to look for files and guaranteeing version control. This consecutively perks up cross-team collaboration. A user can utilize the data as it is or under the frame of the building blocks.
- Integration of data and applications: The work OS lets the users link external data sources and popular business & communication tools (third party tools for video, messaging, shared documents and email) into an integrated workspace to add additional context. This permits the users to keep going with their desired tools, at the same time consolidate all work into one shared platform. This also helps in making data-driven decisions and resolving data silos.
- Visual Dashboards: Data visualization and analytics is yet another important feature of a Work Operating System. It allows you to create reports, generate metrics and visualizations within a system. This is highly useful for stakeholders and top management executives to track the team progress, monitor resources, make data-driven decisions and see different aspects of the same information. These dashboards give visibility to the stakeholders about the current health of the business and ensure transparency.
- Permissions and Governance: It incorporates permission-setting, authorizations and governance features to control who can view, update and edit content and who can integrate and automate work. Teams can work in their own style with the tool, and at the same time continue to be aligned in compliance with the company’s standards.
- Tracking Progress: It allows you to track the progress of each work item and also track individual and team performance against committed plans and timelines.
- In-context Communication: This gives you a way to have a conversation within a system. You can comment on tasks and activities, add attachments, etc. This helps in improving collaboration and avoiding unnecessary emails and meetings.
Potential Barriers For Adopting The work OS
As a Work Operating System is designed for everyone in the organization, instead of just serving a specific set of employees (For instance, Jira for developers & testers, Salesforce for Sales Team), it doesn’t essentially act as a substitute for other software applications used for work. Rather, it usually puts all those software applications in one place through integrations.
Its features do vary in the ease of use and flexibility. Thus, it is very important to opt for the best tool per your organization and team’s requirements.
It will have access to all your organizations’ s sensitive data, hence, you need to check very carefully about the security compliances with the vendor. All vendors should ensure that the product is meeting the local regulatory requirements and any additionally required security standards.
These may include GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance, ISO 27001 information security standard, ISO 27018 cloud privacy, system and organization controls – AICPA SOC1, AICPA SOC2, AICPA SOC3.
There should be regular audits by the third-party to check for security compliances and report if there are any breaches.
How To Select The Right work OS?
While choosing the best work OS, you need to consider the following factors:
- Flexibility: You need to check whether the system is flexible enough to adapt as per your organization’s workflow.
- Interoperability: Spend some significant time in determining if the tool you are going to deploy at your workplace has the available integration support for the existing software or tools your organization is currently using.
- Ease of adoption: Check how the learning curve of the tool is? Is it easy to use and simple to understand? Does it require technical knowledge? Will non-IT people be able to use it well? Do you need to hire someone to manage the too?
- Time: Check if it will help you to cut down the manual and redundant effort through automation and save your time in managing the day to day work.
In the following part of this tutorial, we will take you through some of the Top work OS tools available in the market. You can select the tool that best fits according to your organization and team’s needs.
Top work OS Vendors
- monday.com (Best Overall)
- Microsoft Tools – MS Planner and MS Project
We will take you through some popular software offerings. You can pick the one that fits best as per your organization and team’s needs.
monday.com is considered as the best work OS available in the market. It gives you an all-in-one visual platform to plan, track and collaborate all your work from start to end.
It gets integrated very well with a lot of popular apps like Dropbox, Excel, Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Drive, Slack, Trello, Zapier, Jira, Microsoft office tools, etc. This strong integration capability of monday.com makes it a really cool tool.
It also allows you to do codeless automation of workflows so that the effort on menial tasks can be reduced. You can automate recurring tasks like sending reminders, status updates, archiving, etc.
Overall, it’s a simple, intuitive, flexible and versatile tool that lets you do easy & fast onboarding of team members, customize workflows, create & control dashboards, built-in communication tools for direct messaging and commenting on tasks and activities, track progress through different views like calendar view, chart view, files view, Kanban view, map view, timeline view, etc.
Many big clients including Uber, Adobe, Unilever, Schneider Electric, Costco Wholesale, etc. are using monday.com to manage their work effectively.
Pricing: It has a flexi pricing model that varies based upon the number of users and the plan chosen. The starting price is $17 USD/month for 2 users. They also offer a free trial.
Wrike is also a leading work OS that helps you to gain visibility and simple planning. It offers cloud-based collaboration and is scalable across teams in any business.
Its features include customizable dashboards to design team sprints, interactive Gantt charts, templates for resource allocation, commenting, tagging images and videos, interactive reports, shareable dashboard widgets, customizable workflows to fit according to your team needs.
It gets integrated with business tools like Salesforce, GitHub, Google, Box, Microsoft, etc. Wrike is employed by many big customers worldwide namely Airbnb, Loreal, Mars, Google, Hootsuite, Tiffany & Co., Hawaiian Airlines, etc.
Overall it’s a solid software tool, but it’s quite difficult to learn to use this tool effectively. It also lacks the ability to create a custom template of your own. Thus, it works mainly as a project and task management tool, rather than a full work OS.
Pricing: There are different plans depending upon the team size and needs. The starting price is $9.80/user/month. They also offer a basic free plan for up to 5 users. Furthermore, a free trial is also available.
Smartsheet is a cloud-based, flexible software that lets large teams to plan, organize, store, manage, visualize, automate, and report on work items throughout the business, thereby enabling you to move faster, urge innovation, and achieve more.
Its top feature is its extensive reporting capabilities. You can create detailed reports and dashboards to study real-time data from a centralized platform. You can also attach relevant documents to task cards from your local machine or cloud storage, assign tasks to individuals and collaborate with teams.
Similar to monday.com, it also supports workflow automation. Smartsheet also gets integrated with famous business tools like AWS, Jira, Microsoft Teams, Salesforce, Slack, etc. However, it lacks some of the advanced features of a work OS.
Smartsheet is less suitable for SMBs as its primary use cases are enterprise. Moreover, due to its complexity, you might need to have an IT manager responsible for it, as it is not very intuitive for non-technical users.
Pricing: They have standard and enterprise editions with customized pricing. The starting price is $14/month/user. A free trial is also available.
Basecamp is the first and foremost task management tool. Yet, due to some of its features, it can also be considered as a solid work Operating System for very small teams.
Its main features include message board, To-dos list, event scheduling, docs & files storage at a centralized location, group chats and automatic check-ins. It also allows integration with some popular third-party tools. However, it does not have any solid tools of its own for managing work and capturing data.
Pricing: Basecamp Business edition will cost you $99/month with all features, unlimited users and projects. A free trial is also available. The personal edition of the tool is available free of cost with limited features.
#5) Microsoft Tools – MS Planner and MS Project
Microsoft offers two different tools i.e. MS Planner and MS Project that act as a work OS.
MS Planner is an easy and visual way to organize teamwork, create plans, invite teams and assign tasks, schedule view, group & filter tasks, set due to date notifications, set up a visual board wherein you just drag and drop the tasks, attach files, set labels as per you team requirements.
MS Project tool helps to organize projects of all sizes. Its features include dynamic scheduling, coauthoring, interactive BI dashboards and automated workflows.
These are very advanced tools, and thus they mostly fit, professional project managers. They have a long learning curve, many hours of implementation, and in many cases a dedicated IT to manage them.
Pricing: They offer on-premises and cloud-based solutions. The starting price for a very basic project plan is around Rs. 700/month/user.
Website: Microsoft Tools
These were the top 5 tools that can serve you as a work OS. Some other good options include Airtable (a cloud-based spreadsheet database), Coda, Notion ( a one-stop solution for Team wiki, project management, and shared docs), Asana (mobile and web-based work management app), Trello, glip, teamwork, I done this and Zoho.
In this tutorial, we saw how a work OS helps in centralizing data by breaking data silos, contextualizing communication by breaking collaborative silos and provide visibility by breaking operational silos.
Overall, a work Operating System provides a centralized hub for work management and aids in achieving enterprise agility.
There is a variety of tools available in the market. You can spend some time in analyzing which one suits best as per your needs and then finalize the tool. The best part is that almost all the tools have a free trial available. So, you can try hands-on before finalizing the tool for your organization.