What to Consider When Choosing a Software Application – Internal Work and Tasks

by Mateusz Kuczera

Published September 11, 2023

“Morning, Nori,” says Bruno, the project coordinator, after Nori picks up her teleconference call. “Everything all right?”

“Hey Bruno,” answers Nori. “I’m swamped. I just can’t seem to get on top of everything…”

“Speaking of which,” says Bruno. “Did you complete the market analysis for Ryudo? They needed it yesterday.”

Nori shakes her head in discouragement and says “I’m so sorry, Bruno. I completely forgot…”

“Can you take care of it today, please?”

“Yeah,” whispers Nori. “Let me just write it down.”

Managing work and priorities might seem like a simple thing, but is in fact at the root of what most companies struggle with. Nori, who feels overworked, takes notes for tasks in a physical notebook. This method may work for a while, but becomes unsustainable very quickly especially when visibility is needed on people’s tasks and workload. A digital system for managing work quickly becomes necessary. And although this article applies mostly for back-end management work, much of it’s insights can also be applied when doing physical work.

Centralized Task Tracking

The first major benefit of having a system to track tasks is of course the fact that all tasks are centralized. Thanks to this inherent centralization, tasks between different processes and apps can be seen in a single location, making visibility on what needs to be done significantly easier. Additionally, having centralized tasks enable easier prioritization and workload forecasting. The selected app must therefore have the capability to track tasks related to the entire company in a single location.

Assigning and Re-assigning Tasks

Another very important benefit is the fact that tasks can be assigned to either people or groups. With the possibility, each task will have a person assigned to its execution. In the case where the task is not assigned to the right person or group, the option to re-assign it allows the same task to be done by the right stakeholders. Most software apps have this capability, but it still is a major consideration when choosing which app to use.

Priorities, Durations and Deadlines

It goes a little bit without saying that to work efficiently and effectively, tasks must be prioritized. There are various ways of doing this but using durations and deadlines is one of the most straightforward. Prioritizing can also be done based on the Covey Quadrant method, but this requires a more elaborate approach. In both cases, the software must have the capability to of course include durations and deadlines, but should also permit manual prioritizing in case several tasks with clashing durations and deadlines become assigned to the same person or group.

Projects

Because tasks usually roll up to projects, whether small, large, punctual or continuous, the software app should have project tracking capability. This will not only give visibility on progress but will also aggregate tasks for a single project. The software app should also include various different views, such as lists or Gantt, to facilitate planning.

On Workload and Capacity

Workload and capacity are concepts that tend to be managed qualitatively and data on those two aspects is notoriously absent from organizations. Managers simply ask workers how they feel about their work and use that to measure workload and capacity. By using a software tool which provides visibility on duration and deadlines, as well as concurrent employee schedules, managers can quickly and easily see if someone is over or underworked.

As an additional insight, capacity should consider any time spent on meetings and administrative work, such as filling in timecards. The best method would be to use a schedule to block admin time and sync work and tasks with meetings and the schedule. A software app capable of the above is strongly recommended.

Commenting

Managing internal work in a centralized task tracking system must also enable comments. Comments should be left in a continuous thread to ensure that if a task gets re-assigned several times, history is not lost. Attachments are also useful, and although the software app should enable them, it is recommended that any documents be stored in a knowledge management system and only linked to the task via either a comment or a dedicated field. This will enable a single version of truth and prevent duplication and ultimately confusion.

Takeaway

As soon as there are a few workers working in the same company, managing the work can become confusing. However, with a centralized task tracking system, this confusion is not only prevented but the app enables subsequent growth and scaling with no change to the system functionality. Actions such as assigning tasks, prioritizing, estimating durations, workload and capacity, and ensuring comments are historically maintained will make managing work effective and efficient.

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