In this article, we invited our partner, Meister, the company that built incredible productivity tools like MindMeister and MeisterTask to explain how to set up task management boards for maximum team productivity!
While many factors contribute to the productivity of your team, one that is often overlooked and undervalued is how you set up your task management board. When investing in new task management software, we are often so eager to get going quickly that we haphazardly set up our projects and tasks. Before long, teams get used to the hastily assembled boards and the thought of reorganizing them seems like more trouble than it’s worth. Instead, take a little time to set up your task management boards in an optimal way, right from the start. Making sure that information is quickly accessible, progress easy to visualize and workflows are streamlined will have a significant impact on your team’s productivity. Here are a few questions to guide you towards your ideal setup.
How Should Projects Be Organized?
The answer to this question can be found by analyzing your business model.
Do regular clients have you on retainer? In this case, it might be best to create a project for each client. That way you can simply add tasks to the project when requests from the client come in. And when asked, you can give a status update by quickly glancing at the board.
If separating projects by clients scatters tasks into too many locations, try creating projects based on teams. For example, your sales team may have a specific workflow and prefer to see all their clients’ tasks work their way through it. So as not to lose the larger overview of work, connect team boards by moving tasks between them. In MeisterTask, you can do this manually on a case-by-case basis or automate the moving of tasks that are always handed off between the same teams.
If you work with campaigns and strategies, try creating a new project for each internal program. For example, a marketing team may come up with a new campaign that requires help from several departments. In this case, create a project for the campaign and invite all the relevant employees to the board, regardless of team or department.
When running a store or restaurant where processes and tasks recur on a regular basis, try creating different projects for different teams, or different shifts.
Once you’ve decided how best to break up the work of your business into projects, start creating boards and inviting the appropriate people to them. Remember that not all project members need to have the same rights and permissions. Setting these correctly — from admin to viewer or commenter — can also reduce errors and add to productivity.
How Can I Optimize Each Board?
First, focus on finding the right workflow. If you’re using a tool like MeisterTask, a standard Kanban workflow of Open, In Progress, Done, will likely already be there. This workflow can loosely suit almost any project, but should absolutely be adapted based on your teams, departments, clients or campaigns.
What is the typical process that tasks go through in each project? Since all projects are customizable, the answer may be different for each one. Here are some common sections to consider when searching for the ideal workflow.
- One common way to organize tasks that have yet to be done is to expand the to-do section into several sections. Create a Backlog section so that ideas are not forgotten but also don’t clog your Up Next section.
- If you’ve made a project for a particular team or department, creating one section per specialty will help everyone see the big picture and notice when someone is overloaded. For example, when working in a development team, consider creating sections for Development, Design and Testing.
- Does the project need a section called Review so that peers or clients can give feedback?
- Perhaps you’ve created a team project board but tasks often have dependencies on other teams. In this case, a section called On Hold may be in order.
- It’s tempting to get rid of the Done section to save space on your board, but leave it there to give you and your team a sense of accomplishment and an easy way to review the past week’s progress.
Workflows are not set in stone. Try to find one that you think will work well for the project and after a few weeks, ask for feedback from the project members. In Kanban-based task management tools such as MeisterTask, sections are easy to change, rename and move, and finding the workflow that makes your team the most productive can include some trial and error.
After you’ve decided on a workflow, read through the user guide of your task management tool to find out how you can use all the features to their full potential. In MeisterTask the features that make the biggest difference in productivity are automations. They increase consistency, save time and reduce errors. Here are just a few examples:
- If certain tasks are always assigned to the same person, set up an automation so that tasks put into a particular section are automatically assigned to them.
- Should tasks be handed over between teams? Create an automation to move tasks from one project’s Done section to another project’s To-Do section.
- Does your business rely on recurring tasks being executed punctually and correctly? Then create recurring tasks so that you never have to remind yourself or your colleagues to do these repetitive but essential tasks.
- Do your clients need detailed reports of how much time has been spent on their tasks? Set up sections that act as time trackers for your employees. Then export a report and send it off to the client.
What Makes a Task?
Now that your project boards are correctly organized, workflows are optimized and you’re using all your tool’s features to your advantage, it’s time to take a look at the smallest pieces: tasks. They shouldn’t be too large or they will take too long and progress will stagnate. They also shouldn’t be too small or information will become fragmented and disorganized.
In order to find the right size for your tasks, concentrate on duration. How long should it take for a task to make its way through your workflow? Start with what you would consider ideal and see if it matches reality. If it takes significantly longer for tasks to get through, adjust the size of the tasks, or revisit your workflow.
To make sure that tasks are completed as efficiently and accurately as possible, fill them with as much information as possible. Add assignees, due dates, attachments, and checklists for detailed processes. Having all this information available within just a few clicks will keep your team informed and productive.
Ready to Get Started?
In summary, to find the right task management board to support your team’s productivity, start from the outside, and work your way in. Take time to make sure that projects are divided and organized logically. Then put together individual workflows to match each project. Finally, make sure that tasks are the right size and hold all the information your team needs to get things done. Your first project is waiting to be created — have fun, and remember, you don’t have to get it right the first time!
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