Top 10 Pitfalls to Avoid When Using Task Management Software
Everybody talks about how task management tools are great at handling all those to-dos and action items. The reality is that very few people get the benefits they expect. There are hundreds of reasons for this, but here are the top 10 that affect the most people.
Get the Most Out of Task Management Software By Avoiding Well-Known Pitfalls
The Top 10 Pitfalls to Avoid
Let’s just get straight into it. Based on our experience implementing CommandHound in businesses of all sizes, here is the list of the 10 most common issues that we consistently see when individuals and teams fail to get all the promised benefits from their investment in a task management solution.
People get so excited about finally having a place to dump all those calendar reminders, post-it notes, lists, and whiteboard reminders into a single tool that they overcompensate by putting too much detail into the task management tool they selected.
Adding too many detailed tasks results in an overwhelming number of unimportant or irrelevant reminders and dashboard alerts. Focus on milestones or a level of detail that provides the best return. Group tasks to a level that is meaningful and focus on tracking that level only. Most often, everything below the main task (i.e., the subtasks) needs to happen anyway if you are to mark the top-level task as completed. So why bother with so much detail?
2. Open Ended Tasks
Defining open ended and/or ongoing activities as tasks is also a common mistake. Tasks should be well defined and finite so they can be marked as completed when done. For example “Monitor Currency Fluctuations” may be a critical activity but it is an activity that never ends. It has no beginning or end, it just goes on. These types of activities are not good candidates for a task management tool that is focused on marking things as completed.
Instead, create regular finite tasks to check that things are happening. For example, we could define a weekly recurring task for “Send Currency Fluctuations Report” which can be marked as completed when done every week.
3. No Escalation
Another common issue is to fail to define what to do when assigned tasks do not get done as expected, when expected. It is easy to just let these tasks linger in a “late” status until later.
Make Sure Things Get Done By Escalating Tasks When Over Due
Defining an escalation path is a great way to increase the sense of urgency to make sure things get done on time. When a task is overdue, send it to the next person in the decision-making chain.
So, what happens when somebody fails to complete an assigned task on time? Is it forgotten? Is it rescheduled? Does it just linger there until somebody remembers? Are there any consequences?
A lack of accountability in the workplace is one of the easiest ways to forfeit the benefits of using a task management tool. Make sure that your task management tool has a way to record how well people are doing at completing their assigned tasks on time. You should then be able to tie this performance information back to a performance review or incentive program to better drive accountability.
5. Not Enough Granularity
This is the opposite of micromanaging. Defining tasks that are too broad or too high-level may cause you to loose visibility of progress until it is too late. Also, it may force you to have to use another tool just to manage the details.
6. No Prioritization
First things first. Not having a sense of importance or priority will result in less effective execution, especially when time or resources are limited. The business and you will get the most out of completing tasks if the most important tasks are completed first. This is especially helpful in case there is no time to do them all.
7. Multi-Headed Monsters
Avoid shared responsibilities. All tasks must have a single person responsible and accountable for its completion, even when multiple people participate in the execution. The accountable person is responsible for coordinating the participation of all necessary resources, resolving any issues or dependencies, and, in general, completing the task on time.
8. Misuse of Recurring or Repetitive Tasks
Another big opportunity often missed when using task management tools is failing to identify recurring tasks such as those associated with things like the “Financial Month End Close” or tasks that need to be executed consistently once a specific event takes place such as “Onboarding New Employees.”
9. Fail to Make Adjustments
Once a task is defined and recorded, things may change. The person that the task was assigned to may go on vacation when it is due, or the priority changes, or the due date is no longer as critical as once thought.
The ongoing review and updating of tasks as things develop is a critical process for keeping a task management tool relevant and useful.
10. Failing to Trust It and Enjoy Life
We often see that people properly load and use a task management tool but fail to let go. Even when the tool has taken over the monitoring, reminding, escalating and tracking of completed tasks.
When used properly, a task management tool allows for the shifting of management time from supervisory tasks to more strategic endeavors – which was the original goal to begin with.
Key Benefits of Task Management
Some of the key benefits, if you are successful in navigating your way through the adoption of a task management tool that avoids the pitfalls listed above, are:
- Making sure that things are getting done
- Making sure that nothing is falling through the cracks
- Making sure that things are being done consistently and on time
- Being able to drive a culture of accountability in the workplace that impacts performance at all levels in all areas
- Being able to spend more time on strategy and less supervising
CommandHound is a task management tool that was built from the ground up to drive accountability in the workplace. In addition to being able to define and assign tasks, it also has a strong escalation engine for when things are not getting done as expected. CommandHound also tracks each individual or team’s performance in completing their assigned tasks on time to tie back to a performance or incentive program.
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