Workstreaming.. like twitter but useful

The “real time web” and “Lifestreaming” are all the rage currently.

Twitter is the best known example of this new evolution of the web – but Facebook and other apps also have the facility for status updates.  All so that you can provide a running commentary on what you are doing during any given day – and allow others to follow you while you do it.

Personally, I am still trying to figure out where twitter fits into my life.  However, when it comes to “workstreaming” – I am a huge fan.

Everyone at Vertical Leap workstreams.  They provide status updates (allocated to campaigns or to “personal”) on what they are doing as they do it.  This isn’t so that we can bill our clients – so its not a time management system (our service is fixed price anyway).  And its not at all “big brother” – this is not micro-management.  Think twitter – but with the ability to “tag” posts to client campaigns/projects (or not).

I believe that this approach has several benefits:

1. Transparency. The current economic climate has been caused – in part – by greed and unscrupulous business practices.  It is more important than ever to build your business based on honesty, integrity and to always have your customers best interests at heart.

The workstream can help with this.  We provide access to all workstream messages assigned to a client – either within our reporting tools or via an RSS feed.  Clients should never doubt that work is being done as they have full access to the messaged 24×7.

2. Accountability. Because any day in the past can be re-created by re-assembling the workstream – it means that staff are accountable for their time.

I don’t micromanage – everyone knows what is expected of them, but logging what you are doing as it is being done and understanding that clients (and managers and colleagues) may review these at some point creates a stronger sense of responsibility in some way.

Staff also come to rely on their workstream when it saves them from occasional questions about activity or purpose by clients.  These issues are immediately eliminated when workstream reports/messages are produced.

3. Trend-spotting. At a management level, I review the workstream in two ways.

  • Each week, I review (scan) the previous week’s workstream for all staff to identify issues and trends.  If more than one of my guys is having the same problem.. I can chat to them before it becomes major.  I can also raise potential issues with the account managers about specific clients if needed.
  • Our staff work on several campaigns/projects during the day.  I get a weekly summary of the total number of messages per campaign/project for each employee to understand which projects are taking more time and which may be a bit “sleepy”.  This then allows me to ask questions at our weekly staff meeting to ensure that service levels are kept high and that staff are not being overstretched on a single account or problem.

We’ve had this system in place for a couple of years now.. and it has been highly effective.   It is simple to implement – we developed our own software, but you could easily use a variety of web-based tools and accomplish the same.

One Response to Workstreaming.. like twitter but useful

  1. Matt March 7, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    Just found this Knol page related to a webworkerdaily blog that inspired this concept in the first place.