Aligning work with strategy is no longer optional: a Q&A on Workfront’s new Goals

A laptop sits on a desk open to Workfront's new Goals application

Michael Swan, Director of Product Management, answers a few questions about Goals, a new strategic planning tool from Workfront.

Q: Why does aligning strategic goals to work matter even more in today’s (disrupted) digital age?

A: Today, most companies are running on a razor’s edge. From the C-suite down to team leaders, everyone is being asked to focus and meticulously manage resources toward strategic objectives designed to take their organizations safely through and beyond the storm. Simply put, companies cannot afford to waste a single dollar or resource on anything but their north stars.

In addition to the intense pressure on companies to be more focused and efficient with resources, they are also being asked to empower employees with more visibility and autonomy. Today’s talent wants meaning in their work; to understand how what they’re doing contributes to a bigger mission. And ensuring employees have the right information to do their best work boosts engagement and productivity, and creates better business outcomes—key attributes of smart and efficient organizations.

Q: What are the core challenges of traditional goal setting?

A: Even in “normal” times, aligning strategic, organizational goals and the day-to-day work that’s supposed to be moving the needle closer to those objectives is a rare and difficult thing.  For most companies, leaders have zero to no real-time visibility into whether or how work is impacting objectives until after the fact via a bad quarter (or year), missed deadline, or losing a big customer. And most employees know very little about corporate priorities or whether their work supports them.

In many cases, you have amazing people doing amazing work that ends up adding zero value because it has nothing to do with attaining what you want to as a business. This broken practice drains value from the bottom line and saps employees of any sense of purpose and engagement. With a dispersed workforce and wildly unpredictable market forces at play, getting and keeping everyone on the same page is more urgent, and more difficult. And it isn’t going to get any easier.

Q: How does Workfront’s new Goals application ensure everyone is prioritizing work that’s aligned to strategic goals?

A: Goals allows companies to document and communicate organizational objectives, and connect, track, and provide insights into how team and individual work is impacting organizational objectives. As a result, every manager and team member can understand the importance of their work in the context of company plans, and leaders can help teams stay on track to achieve results according to plan. With Workfront Goals, enterprise leaders can:

Goals supports any goal management methodology, including OKRs. And because Goals is part of the Workfront enterprise work management application platform, company objectives can be connected directly to projects and work. As people and teams complete work, goals are updated to reflect progress and outcomes.

Penn State University’s World Campus is utilizing Workfront to support a cross-organizational transformation initiative. The team at World Campus helped develop and test Goals, and was an early adopter. Executive Director of strategic planning and administration, Jen Krempa, sums up how her team is already using and getting value from Goals: “Workfront Goals gives us visibility into all goals that’s translatable and traceable across every level of the organization. Being able to cascade goals, visualize how work connects to those goals, and understand whether we’re moving in the right direction ensures all work is supporting our larger strategy.”