Collaborative Task Management Means Fewer Meetings
How much time per week do you usually spend on meetings? According to The Muse, they can take about 35 – 50% of manager's working hours. This would not be so offensive, if not the fact that most of them are ineffective and useless. And it doesn't matter whether it is a live conversation, a phone or video call, in any case, you're wasting your own time and reducing your team's performance, distracting them from their direct responsibilities. If earlier we have discussed how to stop wasting time in general, today we will focus on existing ways to avoid extra meetings.
Look around and you will see a lot of them. We mean numerous project management tools oriented on collaborative work on tasks. Most of them allow you to manage projects and teams from the comfort of your home. And what do many of us still do? Instead of using all the advantages of remote work that modern technologies give us, we not only keep going to the office daily, but also hold at least a couple of personal meetings a day, just to make sure that all employees really do what is expected from them.
Naturally, not all collaboration software is so good and versatile. And, unfortunately, not all developers can be entrusted with independent task management and time tracking. But this is exactly what we should strive for. Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling to transfer project management responsibilities to the rest of team members. But a certain level of responsibility and independence on their part could significantly reduce the need for regular meetings and discussions. Encourage developers to participate in the proper task management process. How could we better divide this work into subtasks? How much time, in their opinion, will this or that task take? Who better to entrust this work to? Certain freedom of actions, transparency and accessibility of the task management, exchange of information and interaction of all team members in the process of work can significantly improve the result you get. But this interaction mustn't be necessarily personal. Joint work with the project, tasks, time assessment is often enough to express developers' thoughts and suggestions on their account. All you need is shared access to the project data and a little personal interest in its success. Of course, if something is unclear, the meeting will still be required, but it will indeed be more effective and take a minimum of time, because all participants of the process will be aware of the essence of the issues under discussion.
Use modern project management tools to the fullest to automate and simplify your workflow. Are you saying, your software does not allow you to reduce the duties of employees, but only adds routines? Get rid of it. A really collaborative project management tool should solve the following tasks:
Joint task management. You don't need to hold meeting with a manager or somebody else just to create a new task or modify an existing one. We rightly assume that all team members are reasonable people and know what they are doing. So, if you want to create a task, then it really is essential, and you don't need to keep it in mind, waiting for approval and permission to add it to the project. For example, in Riter all developers have rights to create, change and delete tasks. At the same time, we expect employees to add a description for each of them, attach screenshots or other related files when necessary, specify todos for a large scope of work, add topics to make tasks as clear to other workers, as possible.
Collective time tracking. When working on tasks, developers should commit time spent on them. What if a particular employee spent time on a task which he is not assigned to, for example, while helping his colleague? Or what if some developers were working on a task together? In Riter we take into account different ways of teamwork, so developers are able to write time spent on different tasks, track time spent on simultaneous work and so on. For greater visibility, we encourage team members to add a comment to each added time interval of work, so that other developers and managers could better understand what exactly their colleagues were doing and what is already done.
Discussion of tasks together. All tasks should be discussed right in the project management software. And not only to avoid unnecessary meeting, but to save all important ideas and suggestions within a task. Do not rely on memory - during personal discussion, a lot of information can be forgotten or missed by inattentive or late employees, and paper records can be lost or not too clear for all participants. Instead, use comments on a particular task's page to keep all related data together, share important files there, add remarks during the development process, describe future or done work and so on.
Simultaneous time estimation. There are no project management tools which support this ability so as we see it. It must similar to Scrum time estimation process, but fully automated. In Riter, we are going to implement a simultaneous task estimation by different team members. Taking into account each employee's accuracy (based on the history of past estimates), Riter AI will be able to calculate a more precise time assessment for the task, when some developers specify their subjective assessments. At the moment, many project management tools allow employees just to set up their estimates manually, however, they can modify each other's predictions for greater accuracy.
Request for help. A good collaborative tool should let you show that a certain task is not clear enough and requires additional discussion and explanation. So, if you need help you don't need to immediately call colleagues, taking them away from the current job. Moreover, if you work remotely, they can have another working schedule, live in another time zone or generally be offline. A specific task option or a state can be helpful if you want just mark it as "need attention" and wait while somebody can help to solve your issue. For instance, in Riter each task has a similar "attention mark" for this purpose.
Task assignment and teamwork. Collaborative task management tools allow you to assign yourself or anybody else on tasks and modify these assignments when necessary. It would be quite inefficiently to gather a team each time when you wish to give them some new tasks. Moreover, unexpected difficulties and new conditions may appear anytime, especially in Agile project management, so that changes of a performer of a task are quite common. Mutual help and freedom in the distribution of tasks can be really effective for the project and improve teamwork as a whole.
Public statistics. Working on a common project, it would be great to know not only your goals, but also the achievements of your colleagues. However, holding a meeting for the sake of this would be not very productive. After all, all the necessary information is in your project management system! Just make sure that it is available for all interested team members in the software you use. A detailed statistics can tell a developer even more than he will be able to understand during a regular meeting.
Study the capabilities of your software for task management and start, in the end, use them. The next time you decide to hold a meeting, think, is there a more effective way to spend team time? If you are a remote working team, modern project management tools are an irreplaceable thing for you, the possibilities of which you simply must use to the fullest. But even if you are still working in the office, you will certainly find more useful ways to spend working time or more interesting occasions to gather with your colleagues.
Riter development team