What is 5W2H and how this tool can increase your productivity

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what is 5W2H

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The search for productivity and the delivery of tasks to create efficiencies within the working environment is one of the great concerns of professionals nowadays.

However, with the hectic demands of companies, it is very common to find the same professionals struggling to cope amongst all their many other duties during business hours.

Therefore, in this scenario, the search for tools that seek to organize tasks and improve productivity has been growing. Thus, people are looking for improved organization and time management at work, through means of the aid of technology.

And a great alternative for businesses in all sectors is the 5W2H tool.

In today’s post, we will begin to understand what is this methodology, what 5w2h means, its concept and how to apply 5W2H to bring better results within your company. Read on!

What is 5W2H?

5W2H is a productivity tool that consists of a set of seven guidelines.

The 5W2H methodology uses a series of questions in English, which aim to help professionals to plan projects, strategies or activities through the use of increased practicality and clarity.

5W refers to the five guidelines that begin with the letter W:

What

Why

Where

Who

When

While 2H refers to the two questions in the 5W2H method beginning with the letter H:

How

How much

Check out the explanation of each one of the guidelines of the 5W2H methodology:

What (what to do): what is the project, strategy, or activity being planned, or what is the goal you want to achieve?

Why (why do it): why does it need to be done? Is it important to the company, the team, or the customers? Will it improve any processes? What is it? Will it solve a problem? Which one?

Where (where will it be done): will it be inside or outside the company? If it is the responsibility of a specific sector or department, what is it?

Who (by whom will it be done): which participants will operate in each of the steps?

When: when will each of the activities start and when is the deadline for completing them? (the idea here is to build a detailed schedule).

How (how to do it): What will be the steps and actions to achieve the defined objective? At this point, a good idea is to also use the who and the when assigning each step to a responsible team member and include a specific end date for them to follow.

How much (how much will it cost): What will be the expenditure to fulfill all the planned tasks? Assess the human and material resources needed and estimate how much they will cost.

Advantages of using the 5W2H technique:

The advantages of 5W2H are many. Here, we summarise just some of the advantages of the 5W2H quality tool.

As the 5W2H technique is very objective, it can be used by businesses of all sizes. Furthermore, it does not require a specialized technical team, meaning any employee can use it.

In this way, managers are able to answer the 7 questions of 5W2H in a detailed way, organizing and planning without wasting time or including unnecessary information.

We highlight the importance of the guideline How (how to do it?). To answer this question, it is essential to know how to establish precise goals and deadlines, besides carefully establishing the people responsible for carrying out each task.

As in all good planning, these aspects will help the team to keep aligned to the steps requiring each one to fulfill the specified objective.

Finally, how to use 5W2H to develop an action plan? And what exactly is 5W2H?

How to do 5W2H?

Now that you know what’s 5W2H, it’s time to put the methodology into practice.

In general, we use a 5W2H spreadsheet, with the questions (what, why, where, who, when, how and how much) listed in the first column. Then, explanatory answers are placed in the second column.

We can also find several tools aimed at action plan management in the market, such as STRATWs One, by Siteware.

But, if you prefer, you can also detail the answers using a conventional text editor.

The important thing is to have a document in which everything is well described so that the information does not generate doubts or ambiguities.

Another important point is to share the information, thereby using these documents, whether through spreadsheets or text files. Stored filesharing in the cloud is perfect.

This way, any team member can consult the answers to each of the questions whenever they want and from wherever they are. Thus, communication becomes much more agile and reliable.

In addition, if any changes are made to the plan, these are automatically updated in the shared documents. In this way, everyone is always up to date with the latest news, thus avoiding any mistakes or confusion.

How to do 5W2H: be detailed in each answer to the 7 questions!

And there lies one of the competitive advantages of the tool. By specifying carefully the details in the answers, you reduce the risk of misinterpretation or misattribution (in the case of someone thinking that the responsibility was someone else’s when it was in fact, theirs).

As a consequence we minimize the probability of misunderstandings or uncertainties, avoiding reworking and contributing to the team’s productivity.

To make it easier to understand, check out our example. Suppose your company needs to purchase new tablets for the sales team to go see customers.

The 5W2H tool would lead to answers like this:

What (what to do) – Acquire 5 new tablets for the sales team.

Why (why do it) – The sales team needs tablets to demonstrate the company’s solutions to the clients, counting on the ease and mobility of this equipment.

Where (where it will be done) – Sales department

Who (by whom) – Employee A and Employee B.

When – Start: Monday (include date). Ending: Wednesday (include date).

How:

Research tablet models with at least 32GB of storage, 7.9 inch screen, Wi-Fi and 4G connections that are the most cost-effective.

Responsibility: Employee A and Employee B.

Deadline: Monday (include date).

Research tablet prices at major online retail shops.

Responsibility: Employee A.

Deadline: Tuesday (include date).

Research tablet prices at local retailers.

Responsibility: Employee B.

Deadline: Tuesday (include date).

Purchase 5 tablets of the same model from the shop where the best price was found.

Responsibility: Employee A and Employee B.

Deadline: Wednesday (include date)

How much (how much it will cost to do) – R$ 15.000,00 (estimated).

But wait a minute, you still don’t fully understand what 5W2H is. Do not think that the work will be finished after all the 5W2H questions have been answered?

The manager needs to monitor the progress of the tasks to know whether it is necessary to add, modify or eliminate any step in order to reach the objective within the agreed period.

Therefore, the spreadsheet can be changed whenever necessary, and those involved should always be notified when this happens.

Also check our blog: How to execute an action plan and track its results

The 5W2H method is just one of many ways to develop action plans. There are many others, so we provide this video. You can learn about alternatives to the 5W2H cycle.

When to use 5W2H?

The 5W2H system can be used whenever you are going to start a new project in the company, be it simple, like hiring new software for the team, or more complex, like a project that will take months.

Hence the importance of 5W2H as an extremely versatile productivity tool.

As a result, due to the concept of the 5W2H system, it can be employed in companies of all sizes and in an agile and practical way. Plus in addition, it does not require any major training.

Due to the ease of use, you just need to answer its 7 questions and that’s it. A great action plan is born!

If you want to know more about how to make an action plan, download our free worksheet: Action Plan Worksheet

Once understood, the team member feels confident and realizes that there is no secret to doing 5W2H. All they have to do is answer the questionnaire objectively and avoid forgetting any important detail.

5W2H some examples of how to use:

organizing a happy hour with co-workers;

implementing a technology change in your department;

detail a company profile strategy on social networks;

encourage the creation of habits that increase the team’s productivity;

organizing employees’ move to a new company workplace;

implementing a new ERP system (or CRM, etc.) for the use of the employees.

Regardless of how complicated your goal is, the purpose of the 5W2H strategy is to introduce more agility and productivity to the process.

By following all these guidelines carefully, you will be on the right track to optimizing your time and better managing your work routine. All this is thanks to the 5W2H methodology.

So, do you know what 5W2H is? Did you understand why the 5W2H strategy can be a great ally in increasing productivity?

How technology can help in business and project management?

Siteware helps companies to be more productive through its software, STRATWs One, focused on performance, improvement opportunities, meeting management, and project portfolio.

And the qualities of STRATWs One are so great that it is already used by more than a thousand companies and their 162 thousand employees.

So they can use it for benefits and operations such as:

Create and monitor KPIs for processes, projects, and people;

Share information with agility and transparency;

Facilitate the exchange of information and communication between departments;

Focus on the search for the results that your company seeks to achieve;

Use meritocracy and management by sight to motivate and manage teams;

Employ the main strategic planning methodologies such as BSC, OKR, and SWOT;

Enhance corporate governance;

Manage risks and analyze scenarios;

Integrate people, operation, and strategy;

Find opportunities for improvement;

Increase productivity;

Create, monitor and share KPIs with agility and transparency;

Manage meetings and project portfolios.

Plus many more opportunities to improve your company’s performance.

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