Having worked on the kanbantool.com service for over a decade, it’s rather difficult for our team to imagine people not using some form of a workflow management system. But a recent trip to fellow business offices made us think about such individuals, as well as teams. It seems that an easy way to spot them is to glance at their desk space — countless sticky notes, high piles of paper and thick notebooks, planners, calendars are the usual symptoms of an offline workflow managing person.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with that mode of organizing one’s tasks — whatever works, works. But, what are the gains of moving one’s engagements, lists, tasks, notes, and documents to one online system?
Let’s start with the biggest perk. In opposition to your office computer screen decorated with sticky notes, an online board with tasks is available from wherever you are and at all times. What’s more, in all likelihood, the online board can be easily shared with your team members or boss, skipping several steps needed for them to get access to, e.g., your physical notes. So plenty of time savings all around. Not to mention, your office tasks stay accessible also in the event of a worldwide disease forcing you to work from home all of a sudden.
Merges several systems into one
As already hinted, your online project management system can hold not only your tasks. It will also have a place for a calendar to keep tabs on time-sensitive matters, a way to store and share files, and the room for a discussion, potentially freeing you from email, at least to some extent.
A record of the past
The online project board will probably have a space for an archive of your past work, which has several benefits of its own. Need to recall a detail of a project done in the past? Need a copy of a specific design from 3 years ago? Need to check why you’ve been working on a given item in the first place? Who ordered it? Answers to these kinds of questions should be found in your past items’ archive.
Limited number of necessary meetings
You would not want to cancel 100% of team meetings. However, we all know that in a typical office setting, every other meeting could never take place, and no harm would come of it. If you and your team were to visualize what you’re doing on an easy-to-read project board, then at least the status meetings could be forgotten about. Just turn the boss’ or clients’ attention to your board for updates. Also, with task comments, internal team meetings frequency could get smaller.
Editable, repeatable, visual flows
Not sure how best to achieve a given goal? How a process that takes all aspects into account should look? Online PM services tend to offer workflow templates for the most common use cases. Also, once you’ve been working on a few different custom layouts, with process stages defined by you, you will be able to reuse those templates for new projects. That should speed up the identification of necessary process steps, at least to some degree.
Better insight into who’s doing what
Whether you choose to work on a team board or give each worker their own one, finding out who does what — and if anything! — will be easier. Just look up task assignments per person, or review recent updates by username, to see what’s ongoing, who deals with what kind of work, and who is perhaps idle and needs some new assignments. The best thing about using a team-wide online project management system is the ability to see what’s going on in real-time.
Any team made up of more than two people will benefit from seeing their process metrics. And ideally, they want them to be created automatically — probably only possible with a software solution. So, while the team is doing their work, the system notes when items are moved, updated, and reach completion. It will help with keeping tabs on whether work goes smoothly, or if there are areas in the process where people are struggling and are getting blocked. Once you know that, you’ll get the chance to fix it and speed up all future work.
Automation and reminders
A well-designed online workflow service will let you take advantage of periodic or manually set reminders or will even let you pick and choose what task actions to automate. Not only does it ensure you stay on top of your due dates and urgent work, but it can also take some of the more boring updates off your hands.
Features aligned with your choice
No one solution will fit everyone. However, a good choice is using simple systems that keep a host of additional features as optional, letting you decide how simple or complex the system gets. Kanbantool.com boards are the best example of this approach: the boards are dead simple to set up and use, but their settings can include over 30 completely optional add-ons, giving the boards extra abilities when desired. It makes it possible for the system to apply to virtually any process tracking. From three-stage boards with tasks to a multi-stage and multi-swimlane portfolio project board with automation, work time tracking, recurring jobs, items dependencies, and external integrations. It’s you who should be in control of how much or how little the board can do.
We’d be happy to bet that once you try an online task managing system, you will never go back to sticky notes or physical planners. Consider trying Kanban Tool for yourself to see how much time it can save you!
The post originally appeared on the Kanban Tool Blog.