Task management is a managerial activity that involves correct assignment, coordination and control of work through tasks. It is used by managers who usually manage such work and activities of workers that do not result from routine duties but have some specific goals and deadlines. Task management is one of the cornerstones of management itself.
Tasks can be assigned orally or in writing. In the same manner, we can monitor the progress. Frequently, especially for the task management of white collar jobs, various software tools and solutions are used. However, in many companies, unfortunately, one of the most common ways of managing tasks is through e-mails combined with keeping records in a Microsoft Word file. A large number of tasks assigned and monitored in such a way leads naturally to a very poor efficiency because there is a lack of clarity in the communication about the tasks and, also, because the coordination of individual tasks becomes very demanding (if not impossible), some of them can even be mutually contradictory.
What are the task management activities?
It is said that poor tasks assignment is the most expensive managerial error. It is therefore important that the managers (or any other decision maker) does that properly.
- A task should have a clear and concrete goal
- There should be a clear timeframe - by when it should be done
- A task should be feasible and achievable
- A task must be assigned to a person who has sufficient experience, ability, knowledge and authority to perform the task
Task coordination should be happening on several levels
- coordination of tasks with strategic, operational or project-related goals - avoiding misdirection, making sure that the task goes in line with the business’s strategy
- coordination of tasks related to each other - ie coordination of tasks within a project or tasks that have a common goal
- coordination of tasks assigned and performed by individual organizational units - this is actually coordination between managers (it often happens that in larger organizations the tasks are contradictory)
- monitoring progress
Coordination of tasks in larger teams or firms is very challenging - it can take the form of pencil-paper-brain, but with no superpowers, it may be impossible for one person to retain all connections between the tasks. That is why different solutions for task management are so successful because they make the coordination much easier.
Checking task completion
Some tasks are simple and short-term, other tasks are difficult and long-term, they can take up to several months or years even. For the first group, checking their completion is quick and immediate, for long-term tasks it is much more complex and needs to be tackled in a completely different way - it must be continuous to ensure that the assigned tasks are still relevant and also to keep ourselves updated about the stage of completion.
It may be also possible to manage long-term tasks only with pen and paper, however, this is what task management software make so much easier and efficient because they allow everyone involved (ie the manager, the person responsible for the task completion and all other stakeholders) to know what is going on. The pieces of software of this kind provide usually a group chat feature where all the communication concerning a given task is easily accessible with no need to search for the task-related communication in email boxes or other communication tools history.