StreamFocus Blog

Dramatically increase the quality and amount of work you do.

Does Task Management Software Really Work?

The Problem

My architectural firm began work on a large project with a team of 7 people, and we needed a way to manage the firm’s many tasks. We started using web based project management tools to organize our activities. At first, it seemed like a great tool. Tasks would be created and assigned, email reminders would automatically be sent, comments about the tasks could be made and viewed. In a short time, however, the quantity of open tasks became larger.

With a large project, the key is to always work on the top priority task. The web system provided no intelligent way to help determine what the highest priority task was. Entering deadlines for tasks is useful, but when a project-critical task is delayed because of an immediate deadline on a less important task, especially if the deadline is self-generated, the consequences can be dire for the success of the project. Task dependencies are also a nice tool, but again, someone has to spend time massaging these relationships on a daily/hourly basis with the currently available tools.

Our number of tasks became overwhelming. The only answer I could find was to actually have a new position created to focus on organizing these tasks, but then I would have to spend a great deal of time explaining how to prioritize in addition to the new person actually going through all these tasks to set priorities as they came up. In other words, the task management system slowed us down, added costs, and threatened the success of our project. Eventually, we threw up our hands and abandoned the web project management tool.

What We Need

The most important thing we need to know is: which of the many tasks that need to be done is the top priority. The other big issue is: what information do we need to have before starting on a task. We found that so many times tasks would be started and then have to be revised again (and again) later because information needed to complete the task was missing at the onset. This amounted to a great deal of lost time and productivity on the order of 30-40% of time spent working. Additionally, we needed to have the information necessary for the task available immediately while the task was being performed. Another 10-20% of time was lost looking for information for tasks.

For service companies such as my architectural firm, the material we work with is primarily information, and the processes are to a large extent mental. Managing this complexity seemed daunting, but the reward is to gain back the 50% of lost productivity and dramatically improve quality for our customers. This potential improvement in my firm was well worth finding an answer.

We needed a management system that allowed us to focus on the top priority task we needed to do, to focus on the exact information we needed to complete that task, and to not let us start a task until we had assembled all the necessary information and other processes to complete the task to avoid rework.

It was these problems that led to the development of StreamFocus, an on-demand project and action management application, with which we achieved a 50% productivity increase with better quality.

©2007 Organon Technologies LLC

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One response to “Does Task Management Software Really Work?

  1. Pingback: What Kind of Software Would People Actually Pay For? » What’s In Peter’s Head

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