A Detailed Overview of the Essential Features and Functionality of an Enterprise Task Management Solution
Enterprise Task Management software solutions ensure that your managers and staff are able to see what their work priorities are at a glance, and ensure that they are focusing on getting the right work done at the right time. Task management software fosters collaboration across the business, and allows for the creation of customized forms to suit how you do business, while notification and alerts can be established to keep you informed. Third party data and systems can also be integrated quickly and easily, typically using CSV files from applications such as Excel or Access Database.
Collaboration is a performance multiplier, as greater results are delivered due to team effort. With more people in the loop as to what needs to be done, and by when, there is less scope for dropping the ball. More than this, communication between coworkers is greatly enhanced, not only because of more timely communications, but because communication is focused on the work at hand and the issues being faced at that time. Problems are solved faster, while managers can see more clearly the general direction and progress being made on work and projects, allowing them to intercede where appropriate with corrective or remedial action as required.
Collaboration features you can expect to see include:
- A work or task activity stream showing recent work activity by team and individual staff.
- Task lists which can be customized to allow staff to manage how they work.
- Dashboard reporting which gives everyone the information they need to get work done.
- Access via Mobile devices, particularly for solutions which use a web browser to access the solution, means anytime, anywhere and any device access.
This forms the heart of the solution, but the power it deploys is not from standing alone – it should be a part of the holistic solution formed by working in conjunction with other features of an Enterprise Task Management tool.
A task manager allows fast and simple access to priority tasks, and in particular which tasks are falling behind schedule, or are in fact overdue.
Task manager features you should expect to see are:
- The ability to sort and display by any field.
- Batch editing of large numbers of tasks or projects, for instance to change named assignees.
- The ability to use drag and drop organization, so bulk tasks can be grouped under the same project or all moved or copied to another project.
- The ability to support staff collaboration as discussed above.
Scheduling is vital for planning work and who is going to be doing it: there is no point in assigning work to staff who are on vacation for instance, so who else will need to step in to take up the work in the meanwhile?
Calendar views provide for:
- Team and staff collaboration – quickly seeing who is available and when, and extra points are scored where there is an integration with popular enterprise email clients such as Microsoft Outlook.
- Automatic scheduling of recurring tasks and meetings.
- Secure access to calendar views based upon role-based permissions which ensures only those with the need and authority can access other team members’ calendars.
- The association of time spent (or to be spent) on a specified task.
This is probably one of the most sought after pieces of functionality in any task management system, because a lot of work is based upon recurring tasks which need to be done, usually to a set deadline. This is also a vital component of any business or process automation solution, as it utilizes processes and policies you establish so you not only get work done on time, but also to an acceptable quality standard.
Features and functionality you should expect to see here include:
- You should be able to create new tasks both manually and automatically with a fully customizable date/time setting feature, so items repeat at the desired interval.
- Customizable recurrence rules.
- The ability to trigger workflows based off a recurring task status, for instance opening a workflow on the date the task should start, and closing the task once that workflow is completed until the next recurring instance comes around.
- The ability to create not only tasks, but to create multiple projects which are associated with that task, either upon initiation, during the work being done, or upon completion of the recurring task item.
- The ability to set recurring tasks indefinitely into the future – fire once and there is no need to change unless you have a fundamental change in the workflow or business processes.
The solution should be able to automatically notify when a team member has performed work on a task, for instance to notify a supervisor that team member 1 has started a task, or to notify team member 2 that the task is complete and it is ready for them to do their part of the overall workflow needed to pass the item through the process.
It is also important that team members and managers know when a task is falling behind schedule, or indeed is already overdue, so that remedial attention and resources can be devoted to ensuring it does not hold up the overall workflow. Where this happens, the system should be able to trigger not only internal notifications within the system, but also email notifications sent to the appropriate person’s inbox.
Features you should be seeing here include:
- Email or other notifications containing a summary of what is needed to be done, by whom and by when.
- The ability to log time spent on the task, (a time log) plus provide all appropriate supporting documentation associated with the task.
- Automation of notifications, checkpoints and reminders.
- The ability to notify third parties outside of the company, for instance customers, suppliers or contractors.
- Provides visibility into work as it flows through the system, simply and quickly showing team progress and work status (at a team level and at the individual level).
The virtualization of work has separated the need for work to be done at a specified location, for instance, sales people can work wherever they are using a tablet or laptop providing they have access to the Internet. Home working has also risen dramatically, with team members now typically located at multiple locations not only close to the office or central work location, but also around the world.
Access to the task management system is essential no matter where the team members are located, and this also includes the ability to access via any (authorized) device, whether it be a desktop, tablet, laptop or Smart phone.
This accessibility is a two-way street, with the system itself being able to receive task instructions and triggering workflows through incoming email or web forms.
- Mobile compatibility for Smart phones, including Android, iOS and Blackberry OS.
- Compatible with all major OS’ including Windows, Mac and Linux.
- The ability to capture an incoming email and trigger a task or workflow from it.
- Routing new tasks through automated workflows.
- The ability to assign tasks based on role-based permissions.
- The ability to trigger tasks and workflows via web forms.
The enterprise task management solution should also be capable of acting as a central repository for your Digital assets. These will include all your associated documents and materials, such as Word documents, custom forms and documentation, QA forms, inventory, instruction manuals, prior email threads and conversations on work issues, and so on.
This ensures that everything is kept in one place, ensuring that those with the need and authority are able to quickly access documentation and update it in a structured fashion that ensures whoever handles the work item in the next step of the workflow also has everything to hand.
Features and functionality to look for includes:
- An unlimited number of file attachments with simplified ability to upload new files as required by anyone working on the workflow items.
- The ability to archive all files and all versions of the files in order to preserve an audit trail and to provide the ability to revert to older versions if and as required.
- Multiple Digital asset formats should be supported, including .docs, .pdf, .jpg and more.
- Fast and simple assess by anyone with the need and authority to project and task information and relevant data.
There are multiple features that go into an effective task tracking/job management solution, and while there are many variations on this the theme of task and work management, you should be looking for those outlined above as absolute minimums.
The takeaway is that not only must the solution be capable of being customized to your requirements, but that it is also configurable to how you actually do business. Further, the software should also be easy to use not only for senior or technically-oriented staff, but also your individual team members no matter who they are. This ensures high rates of user adoption, and puts everyone on a level playing field when it comes to getting the most out of the enterprise task management platform.
Task Management – Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Task_management