Process definition and improvement can yield huge dividends in efficiency and effectiveness of your organization's work. Before jumping into selecting supporting workflow and project management tools, It's important to do the process work. But when doing this process work it's easy to forget about the other dimension that defines your organization's activities: the data. If you were designing an application from scratch, it would be absolutely necessary to understand, in detail, the data requirements, along with the business processes and functional requirements. It's not as obvious when looking at off-the-shelf solutions for project management, but it still needs to be an important part of your analysis.

The data that you need to capture can be divided into a few categories which can help identify your needs:

  • Data that is required for your process activities. Much of this data should be captured during the intake process and can be further divided into sub-categories such as:


    • Creative Brief information - what is it we are creating?
    • Customer information - including department and contact information and charge numbers, if appropriate
    • Production information - what are the output specs, who's doing the final production, where should it be delivered?
    • Approval information - who needs to approve the work?



  • Data that is generated by your process activities and is needed for financial purpose:



    • Hours by resource
    • External supplier costs
    • Change order information



  • Data for performance metrics - this could include many different types of data, depending on your organization, but some typical elements would be; Project durations



    • Idle time
    • Number of review cycles
    • Estimates to actual



  • Data for reports - this can also include many different types of data that are specific to your organizational reporting needs. This could include both in-process reporting, like traffic reports, and also summary reports of jobs by type, utilization rates for resources, P&L information, etc

So, why is it important to get this detailed about data? Well, it's really the data that drives your business. It's especially important when you are implementing a project/workflow management tool. The tool needs the capability to capture the information you need and to enable the use of that data as needed specifically for your organization, whether for in-process reporting, performance metrics, financial needs, or integrating with enterprise systems for time reporting and billing.


Before you start looking at workflow tools, make sure you understand the data requirements as well as the process requirements. Then choose the tool that will enable your processes and also meet your data related needs.