Teams whose members do most of the work in the home office know it all too well: Communication through digital solutions only can be challenging - no matter how good and sophisticated the communication solution. Messages can be missed, the written exchange with the team is prone to misunderstandings and quick discussions are hardly ever immediately feasible.
Are these communication difficulties problematic? Yes. Are you alone with these problems? By no means! Our team has also experienced these problems. In order to make collaboration on tasks and communication as fluid as possible, we have adopted five helpful rules for task management.
Task management: Five rules for Stackfield
When it comes to us, basically everything ends up in Stackfield - be it short-term tasks that might have been written down on a notepad in the past, tasks with a need for planning that are part of a larger project or mere ideas that are not yet certain to be implemented. This is the only way we can guarantee to have all the important details ready and to be able to follow up on them later.
The difficulty here is that a whole lot of tasks may end up in Stackfield. To ensure that the really important and urgent ones won't get lost and forgotten, we have set some rules.
1. Tasks that need to be completed in near future always receive an assignment and a due date.
Why this rule? Tasks without due date and assignment will quickly be forgotten, because they are not highlighted in the "My Week" section of the person assigned. However, as soon as the due date of an assigned task has been entered and reached, it appears below the respective day of the week view. If the due date has been exceeded, Stackfield generates warnings in several places, such as in the personal global task overview. For this reason, all tasks that are due within the next three months receive a due date and assignment, even if the exact date is not yet known. Our rule ensures that all tasks to be completed within a certain time frame are actually completed.
2. Urgent tasks receive the label ASAP. The assigned person will also be informed by direct message.
Why this rule? Communication tools, such as our "Direct Messages" section, but also the Team Chat in the respective room, serve to reach people as quickly and easily as possible. This is the first place users go to find out about all the news. System notifications, on the other hand, are perceived as annoying or overlooked by many, and having to check the notifications in dashboards every few minutes can be quite time-consuming. We've found that direct messages are noticed most quickly. The red message appears directly in the sidebar, so it's always visible no matter what room you're in. To give you a better impression: Our "ASAP messages" are commonly messages like "Customer XY is waiting for a call (Room: Support)" or "Change of license plan was requested (Room: Sales)".
Detailed information on individual topics, on the other hand, is placed in the rooms visible to everyone, so that information won't get lost in the depths of the chat history. For this reason, our next rule is:
3. All details on a task are stored directly in the task card itself.
This is essential, for even if information from chat histories can be found later, searching for it usually takes a lot of time - time that is actually much better used for other things. So why not transfer the information to the place where everyone will look for it first? We attach great importance to this point. In the daily routine this means that we record all relevant points from meetings and telephone calls immediately (!) and directly in the respective task. This way, nothing is forgotten later and we can reconstruct the last state of a task even after weeks.
Tip: General information on the task that is required more frequently ends up directly in the task description if possible. For specific content, you may also consider creating "Custom Fields".
Tip: If you attach files and documents to a task, you should make sure that the titles are correct and descriptive. Some companies may already have their own systems for this. We try to link the title of the files as obviously as possible to the purpose or topic. Then it is not only easier to find it in the task, but also to find it without problems using the global search function.
Keeping information up-to-date for all team members should therefore become a matter of course for every employee. However, this is not limited only to the information within the tasks:
4. The status of a task is updated as soon as a work step is completed.
Once I have finished my part of the task, I move it on for processing by other responsible colleagues. If I myself have received a task for approval, I accept it or reject it as soon as I am done reviewing or testing. As soon as I have completed a task, I will change the status to "Done" as well. I do this immediately, because as soon as other people are involved, my work has a direct influence on theirs. If a person can be sure that the status of a task reflects the actual work progress, it is much easier for them to plan the completion of other tasks. Nothing is more stressful for team members and nothing affects their productivity more than the need to constantly check whether a task has been completed or not. You will find evidence for this in daily business. Of course, it is something completely different if the completion of tasks is delayed due to an excessive workload. But even in this case, it is important to keep your co-workers informed about the situation (e.g. by means of an @-all notification). A colleague with free capacity may then offer to help.
Unfortunately, day-to-day business also teaches us that not all deadlines can always be met. Occasionally, tasks appear with the warning "overdue" on Stackfield. Also for this case we have defined a rule:
5. Due tasks are completed straight away or rescheduled in the evening.
The problem with overdue tasks: If there are too many, you run the risk of losing sight of deadlines and tasks may stay behind longer than they should. If deadlines are missed frequently and for a long time, other team members also don't know when the task is likely to be completed. Therefore, it only makes sense to reschedule them if it is not possible to meet the deadline. For this reason, we check every evening whether there are still open, due tasks in our weekly view and decide whether they can still be completed or must to be postponed to another day.
Our rules for task management in a nutshell:
- For a task that is to be completed within the next 3 months, it is mandatory to select a due date and assign a responsible person.
- Urgent tasks are always tagged with the label "ASAP" (as soon as possible) If the creator of the task is not the person responsible, the first must inform the latter as well about the urgency of the task sending a direct message.
- All relevant information and decisions must be recorded directly within the task in order to be able to reproduce the course of processing.
- Users update the status of a task as soon as they have completed a work step.
- No task should expire by the end of the day. In the evening (before the end of work), everyone is responsible for checking his/her own due tasks again. These tasks are either completed at the due date or rescheduled.
Even with sophisticated task management software, it can still be difficult. This is particularly the case if the team itself lacks structures and organization. Our rules show that even collaborating with digital solutions can still be optimized by individual regulations. The rules that a team will actually define depend, for sure, on its individual way of working. Maybe one or the other of our rules makes sense for your team as well.
Our final advice is to at least look at your own workflows and consider whether there is room for improvement in some areas. Could your own workflows be positively influenced by setting up some rules? In the "Pages" module, you can store rules centrally and visible to everyone.
Almost finished...Please click the link in the email and confirm your email adress to complete the subscription process.
Never miss a post. Get awesome insights in your inbox.