Submitted by RogerL77 on
I manage a team of 6 directs. We are an IT Services department. We each have an amount of reactive and proactive work. I have listened to the casts about assigning a task + reporting + deadline. We are trying NOZBE i.e a BaseCamp type tool and I'm finding little enthusiasm for it within the team.
I'm assuming its up to me to track tasks, how do others do this, without a huge overhead i.e. keeping it simple.
Thanks for the comments thus far. Also - seeing the number of topics re project management tools - my feeling is the podcasts about assigning work and reporting negate the need for PM tools but require the manager to maintain an overview. How are directs given the overview, is that done by the manager at weekly team meetings?
Many Thanks in anticipation
Outlook has tasks and appointments. I set them up there, with reminders, and let it remind me. All you have to do is remember to put it into Outlook, and you're all set.
Outlook with Contexts
I agree that Outlook would be an easy method to track tasks. Using contexts such as @Dave: or @Sarah: before the task name can help you track who is responsible as well. This makes it easier to discuss current backlog with an individual. This also allows for a visual tool to see how the number of tasks are allocated across the team.
Given that you are in an IT setting, it sounds like what you are looking for is a trouble ticket management system. I have seen some pretty cool things done in MS Sharepoint if that is something your company has available. Someone smarter than me designed it, but the basic idea allowed users to go to the sharepoint site to log an issue. A member of the IT team would assign the ticket to a tech to resolve. The tech would resolve the issue. The ticket was only considered close once the original user who logged in the ticket would agree that their problem was resolved.
Hope this helps. Good luck.
I use sharepoint for my team. I set up a task list and customize different views. The system is straight forward and works fine; getting timely updates from my directs is the issue for me.
It's not the system, but the behavior
I agree with what the other people commented, applying lists to show the context - as espoused by GTD. What I use is the native Reminders app on my iPhone. Since it syncs with icloud, i can view it everywhere i go.
For lists, aside from context reminders (at computer, at office, @name, etc) I added a Waiting For list (there's a cast for that). So what I do is after i talk to person A, i just move that task item to my waiting for list, add "c/o name" at the end and the deadline. I then have a daily 5-10 minute schedule on my calendar to review my waiting for list.
I think, just like most of us, it's not about finding the "perfect" system. Because there will always be a better one that will pop up one day. I should know, I'm a high C. I may not get it perfectly, but i make sure i follow up when i said i would. And that boring and systematic checking of those tasks that people owe you gives them that sense of urgency you probably are looking for.
Total Workday Control
I started using TWC with Outlook and combining that with the attention podcasts has really helped me be more effective with my tasks. I have not yet implemented GTD in a way that works for me. TWC has been great for me so far.
Need team buy-in, after which any task tool/process will work
Because your needs seem fairly lightweight, any tool will work if your team uses it. If you don't use a tool or your team won't use it, all the tracking falls on the manager, and you won't have any time to coach, remove roadblocks, and actually manage the team. Your goal needs to be adoption, so you have oversight of all tasks without micromanaging each one. Assigning reporting can include "please update the tool at the end of the day for each task you've worked on so the team can see the full updated overview each morning."
Since you have six directs in IT, they've probably used multiple task-tracking tools and methods before. Ask them what tools and processes they've found most helpful and why. Adopt whatever has the most buy-in and teach yourself to use it efficiently. I've used everything from post-it notes to text files to Excel to GoToAssist to PivotalTracker/Jira to Microsoft Project, depending on the team and project.
Should also give a try to Replicon.
I would recommend you to definitely give a try to replicon. The tool is all meant for the hours to be tracked, expenses management, tasks management. Overall it works as a CRM that could manage the overall business management to the respective level to streamline the process showing up more productivity.
I am a big fan of Atlassian - JIRA
I would recommend JIRA from Atlassian, it works really nicely to track tasks, reporters, due dates and comments.
They have a 10 user for $10 license which is good to get started on.
You aren't their PA
I would say it's not your job to run their task system. As professionals, they need a way to track their own deliverables and you can certainly coach them on how to do that. Don't get caught up being their secretary though, otherwise they won feel any responsibility for the tasks.
That said, you do need to know what they have agreed to, or you can't make sure it happens. My point is that your system and their system shouldn't be the same thing. I have created a very simple table in Evernote (link below) which I use to track others, I use Outlook tasks for myself. I refer back to this everyday so I always know what is due.
People soon get accustomed to the fact I won't forget something they agreed, so the need to actually follow up that often is reduced.
Chief Executive, Connect Support Services Ltd. - London based cloud & traditional IT services for SMEs
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/markodell100 - https://twitter.com/mark_odell
SharePoint works well
I took over an area that had 7 excel spreadsheets spread across a 20 person department and integrated it into one SharePoint system. The system is scalable (i've added several functional areas since its original inception) and can automatically track metrics (cycle time, run charts etc) real time.
All the best,
If you are co-located and have a wall or whiteboard and post-it notes you could start a Kanban board to track the progress of tasks. If you are not familiar with Kanban, here is a link that explains the concept. http://kanbanblog.com/explained/. There are also software tools to accomplish the same thing, but a board in a highly visible location is just as useful (if you are co-located).
At the recent Sydney Conference, Mark talked about how he uses OmniFocus. I discovered that this is Mac only, and I need to be able to use a task tracker on both Windows and Mac, as well as iOS.
I've just started using Asana, which is web based. Seems pretty good so far!
Give a try to Replicon.
Task management software from Replicon is one of the best option in terms of task tracking management, time tracking management and as well the project management. The expense management can also be controlled by the tool preferably to manage the things.
Wrike or ActiveCollab - task/project management
I have used and like Wrike and ActiveCollab. Best thing in wrike is the dynamic Gantt chart. Another good feature is it updates itself automatically from emails sent, so people that don't want don't really need to use it, they just copy wrike on the email response and it automatically updates the info on the project page. ActiveCollab was better than wrike in associating documentation to the tasks and easy of retrieval of the information later on. I also liked Active Collabs time login and reports.
"Things" for iPhone
I use "Things" on my iPhone and Mac to manage my life. I have a group called "Waiting" that holds all tasks that need delivery by others.
This is, of course, based off of David Allen's "Getting Things Done" book.
Has anybody every
Has anybody every 'Agile'd' their team's work? The Agile approach to project management is fantastic for software development, and I have been branching out into using Agile for my team (also IT).
We have a whiteboard in a location where everybody can see (and have to walk by to get out!), and we have a 'bucket' of all tasks (eg. could be a mini-project, misc activities, etc.), then columns for 'Upcoming', 'In Process', and 'Completed'. We also have areas for 'On Hold' and 'Emergency Work'. We have actual post-it notes with activity name and initials on them which are moved from column to column as the work progresses. We have one person in charge of owning the board (great development opportunity for him), and I have oversight.
The team has responded well thus far, it's only been a few weeks. We are currently, as a team, looking and working out ways to get routine tasks up onto the board - it's a fine line to manage different people in different ways.
Overall i'm going towards successful, though it's still early days. The obvious advantages so far are
As I said, the biggest problem so far is how to allocate time for a person to do routine tasks (such as Service Desk jobs allocated, respond to emails, etc.)
My process may well be far too simple - and it is certainly not perfect but it works to keep track of all the tasks I assign to my team. I carry a notebook everywhere with me. When I commit to doing something I write my initials, the action and the due date on the bottom line of the page. If I ask one of my directs to complete a task that also goes on the next available (botttom) line. A couple of times a week, including as part of one on one planning, I do a quick check to see what has been completed and what has not. If it is complete, I tick it. If not and the deadline has passed I give feedback (also recorded in the notebook). This results in a useful bunch of data for performance appraisals.
I track work generated via email in a similar way to others; by turning my sent email into a task and assigning it to a category "team action" and adding the initials of the direct who will do the work to the subject line. The due date for the task is whatever date I asked them to complete the task by when I sent the email.
We also track the big tasks/projects using a simple spreadsheet (really just a list) which we talk about each day at a morning meeting (10 minute stand up meeting). This covers the months priorities.
Check out these tools
I'd suggest you to give these tools a try
Hope these tools will help you out.
We used a slightly customized version of sharepoint to manage the activities of a big (46) person team. We have it broken up by functional areas buy you could do people. I would recommend not using the "% complete" aspects of tasks but instead do a Red/Amber/Green status reporting and ensure the tasks are writtien in a deliverables manner.
This becomes the basis for our weekly staff sync meeting to review all the major lines of effort.
We used a slightly customized version of sharepoint to manage the activities of a big (46) person team. We have it broken up by functional areas buy you could do people. I would recommend not using the "% complete" aspects of tasks but instead do a Red/Amber/Green status reporting and ensure the tasks are written in a deliverables manner.
This becomes the basis for our weekly staff sync meeting to review all the major lines of effort.
Resource scheduling tool
Task Management is never an easy task to accomplish as I have also faced similar situations in my career. At that time I came to know about a management tool called eResource Scheduler which was very helpful for me to accomplish my task. This is a resource scheduling software which helps managers like us to effectively schedule their employees according to their skills, working capacity and our own requirements.
This software has simple user interface and is user friendly. It also has many other features which also makes my task easier. I tried a 14 day free trial of full version of software and it really met my expectations and I hope it will also benefit you.
So, I think you should give it a try at least once.