Team Workload Management Tools 101: Everything you need to know
by Julie Bennett on June 1, 2022
Welcome to Team Workload Management Tools 101. Here you’ll learn everything there is to know about what workload management tools do and examples of the most popular platforms. Find out how you might be able to leverage a workload management tool to improve your business. If you’re already using one, discover more about what they do and how you can get more out of handy features.
What exactly is workload management?
Workload management entails distributing, managing, and tracking work across your team in the interest of moving work forward and optimizing time spent on the work.
Efficient workload management will help ensure that tasks are getting completed on time, projects are completed within budget, and team members have an appropriate amount of work on their plates.
To manage your team’s workload, you’ll foray into other areas of project management, namely:
- Resource management- Who is available? What is everyone’s capacity level?
- Task management- Who is doing what and when? What are the due dates?
- Project planning- How many hours does each person expect to work? What tasks depend on other tasks to be completed first?
Zeroing in on your resources, your tasks, and your planning sets the stage for effective workload management. On a practical level, most people accomplish this with workload management tools provided by software.
What do workload management tools do?
Workload management tools help you distribute, manage, and track the work assigned to your team. These tools can range from sticky notes on a dry erase board to expensive software solutions. The goal is to give managers more insight into what people are actually doing, how much they’ve taken on, and how much this will all cost in the end.
Adopting a workload management tool like one of our examples below can provide attractive benefits for small business and enterprises alike, including:
- Increased project profitability
- Happier staff (no one is too overloaded)
- Better collaboration
- More projects on-time and under-budget
- Efficient project planning
- Better forecasting
- Higher-quality deliverables
10 examples of popular team workload management tools
Managing the various workloads of multiple team members can seem daunting. That’s where a team workload management tool can really come in handy to keep processes streamlined and not to mention, to make everything less overwhelming for team members and managers alike. Workload management tools are known to provide quick insights into where the work actually stands at any given time with effective visuals and real-time analytics, among other features. Check out 10 of the most popular examples used by businesses today.
1. Gantt charts
Gantt charts are highly popular for their ability to condense and organize an extreme amount of information into a useful timeline. Gantt charts are like intelligent task lists that can show you at a glance the relationships between all the tasks necessary to get the job done. The Gantt chart can help increase the transparency of everyone’s workload and enable managers to gain more visibility into where the project stands at any time.
2. Kanban boards
The Kanban board is also used everywhere, among everyone, from farmers to architects. Kanban boards got their start as sticky notes on a divided dry erase board (or chalkboard, whatever was around). When a task gets completed, it moves from left to right to enter the next phase until the entire project is complete. Nowadays, Kanban boards are typically used within software. There’s really not a lot to Kanban boards, and that’s part of their popularity. The simplicity of the design can give you a good idea of your team’s current workload status in just a glance. Many managers choose to automatically include everyone’s profile photo on all task cards, an excellent hack to help you dial-in even more on workload management.
3. Capacity planning tool
For complex projects, like ones with multiple stakeholders, dependencies, etc, capacity planning is a critical part of workload management, not to mention keeping your team productive and happy. That’s why a lot of shrewd managers use a capacity planning tool to keep track of their resources and manage their team’s workload. Capacity planning is usually offered as part of a resource management solution. There are 3 types of capacity planning: hours-based, task-based, and a combination of the two. Capacity planning is one of the most effective workload management tools because you can interpret who may be overloaded and who has room on their plate for more work.
4. Microsoft Excel
Believe it or not, Microsoft Excel is still relatively popular as a way to manage team workload by creating spreadsheets. You can also create Gantt charts relatively easily with their template. Though it’s not the most efficient solution out there, a lot of startups and small businesses will start out managing workload this way. For organizations already using Microsoft Teams, it may make sense to use Excel, but for most, it’s a bit limiting and less-intuitive than other workload management tools.
5. Google Sheets*
*We put an asterisk by Google Sheets because it’s the only workload management tool on our list that is free. That’s right, FREE. Google Sheets is going to function similarly to Excel in the way it helps with organizing workflows and tasks. Like Excel, you can use a Gantt chart template to home in your project timelines and give clear expectations to stakeholders and clients. Google Sheets offers other workload management templates that can help get you started, but it’s not a popular, long-term solution for most small businesses.
Asana is considered one of the top project management tools in the world. Its attractive interface and intuitive features make it an easy choice for many small businesses and even larger corporations. Asana features Kanban boards and color-coded tags to help managers and teams easily see where any task stands in the course of the project. Customizable enough and easy to use, Asana can help you manage workloads effectively.
PSOhub is also a broader project management tool that offers an all-in-one suite with PSA software. PSOhub is affordable, flexible, and holistic, covering all project management facets within a closed loop. As far as a workload management tool, PSOhub offers powerful features like all 3 types of capacity planning, Gantt charts, and Kanban boards. You can therefore manage your team workload alongside your budget, contract, and all other project data for supreme visibility. PSOhub is powerful enough to replace many other solutions in the tech stack, helping global businesses maintain a single source of truth.
A lot of small-to-medium-sized businesses prefer to use Wrike for workload management and project management on the whole. It seems there’s just something about this dark-horse brand, as even major Fortune 500 companies use them as well. Wrike has a clean-cut design and incredible UX, letting niche professional service organizations customize to their hearts’ content. With Gantt charts and Kanban boards for task management, it provides nearly everything you could need from a workload management tool.
Who takes the cake on making workload management a breeze? It has to be Teamwork, the popular solution with a built-in Workload Planner that will take you step by step through the process. Teamwork provides a lot of tools for project management and offers capacity planning within their resource management tool, to boot. Teamwork also features Kanban boards and everything else businesses require to dial-in task management. For a higher price tag, you can even use Teamwork as your CRM and message in real-time with your team with Teamwork Chat.
Rounding out our list of examples is another project management solution: Airtable. Using Airtable for workload management is strikingly similar to using Asana. Color coding and an easy-to-use environment make Airtable a favorite for content production, marketing, and other creative work. Tasks can easily be identified by their tags and colors in relation to timelines, resources, and more. Though not as robust as Asana, Airtable packs a punch with functionality and integrates with a few of the most popular platforms in the world.
Are there any FREE team workload management tools out there?
The only FREE team workload management tool we can speak to is Google Sheets, Docs, etc. Unless you exclusively use these free tools or do things manually (a la the old-school Kanban board), you’ll probably have to cough up a little cash to get a tool that will do everything you want. You can also try out many examples above with a free software trial before you commit.
Quick Tips: Effective Workload Management with Software
- Adept workload management tools are usually found within certain project management software options.
- Look for Gantt charts in a workload management tool and use them.
- Workload management overlaps with task management, so make sure you and your team like whatever software you’re using.
- Capacity planning is almost always a good idea, provided it doesn’t cost you more time than it’s worth.
- Set automated alerts a couple days before due dates to check in with team members on important tasks.
- Set automated alerts at a certain threshold of project profitability, to make sure your team isn’t going over.
- Stay connected and collaborative with a native chat feature or integrated software.