Choosing appropriate tasks for your business

We often say at Link Solutions that time and costs are the bread and butter of WorkflowMax. To over-extend a shaky analogy Tasks are they way you choose to slice your bread and make a big difference to the success of an implementation. Getting these right at the beginning can save you a lot of heartache when the hard questions come later. This brief article will allow you to make the right decisions for your business and avoid some of the common mistakes.

Tasks relate to time. A task in WorkflowMax is any human activity that your staff perform on a given job. It is what your staff see every day when they complete their time sheet. It is what you report on when you ask ‘How good are we at something?’ It is also how we break up the different processes, decision points and checklists in our business. Choosing good tasks creates good quotes, processes, invoices and reports. Choosing inappropriate tasks leads to unreliability, confusion and cost.

Keep It Simple
It’s not a popular belief among business owners but like filling taco ‘less is more’ with tasks. Research has shown that humans make better decisions with less information *insert link*, flying in the face of popular belief amongst business owners and managers. It is highly tempting to detail out the tasks in your business down to the lowest level in the name of ‘better reporting’. What we see time and again amongst existing WorkflowMax users is a list of 20-40 or more tasks and sub-tasks. What else businessss are trading off in the promises of better business information (that they’re typically not reporting on anyway) is lower reliability of that information, increased confusion by staff and a higher (hidden) cost of administration. If you have more than 12 tasks in your WorkflowMax you need to have a good long look at what it is you do for your customers and how you make money. It is unlikely that you have the staff or resources to continue to be the best in your industry at more than 12 unique activities such that they are each uniquely and individually profitable to you.

Inspiration
As WorkflowMax Cerified Experts we often need to come up to speed on a business very quickly in order to recommend the right combination of technologies, people and processes for a business. One secret sauce we use for this is the ‘services’ tab located on any good professional services website. This will typically spell out at a sufficiently detailed level the services an organisation offers and what it’s good at. These are an excellent starting point. Greater detail can be added at the job template level using WorkflowMax’s ‘Label’ *see other blogs*.

Must-Have Tasks
If your organisation is new to timesheeting you might want to consider entering job-related time only. This can sometimes increase the speed of adoption for staff members new to timesheeting or new to technology in the workplace. We’re not a fan of this approach however as it typically means the people who avoid the time sheets are leadership, management and administration who are the people who need to adopt the new technology the most. See our blog about improving timesheeting in your business.

Three must have tasks for a full picture of your true job and project profitability are Admin, Leave and Project Management. These will be present in every business and should be used to display a full 40hr week. More on setting up a well structured admin and leave time management system here.

Must-Not Tasks
There are several common faults we often come across when working with new clients already using WorkflowMax. When we see these in a business we hear alarm bells.

1) Staff based tasks
Tasks should never feature a staff members name ie. ‘Concept Design – Simon’ Ever. Remember your staff are temporary and your business must exist beyond them. Start as you mean to continue and set up systems that will grow with you. WorkflowMax helpfully offers custom staff and custom task rates that you can use to associate a unique value or invoiced value to a person. This should be independent of a task itself. Ask us how.

2) Customer based tasks
Taks should never feature a customers name is ‘Geotechnical Surveying – Fulton Hogan’. Your business must exist beyond its clients. WorkflowMax helpfully offers custom client rates that you can use to associate unique or agreed rates for particular clients. Ask us how.

3) Temporary Tasks
You should not create a tasks for that one-off activity you did for that one client 3 years ago. Use labels to categorise this time and save yourself a reporting nightmare later on.

4) Sub-Tasks
We shouldn’t see hypehns, colons or forward slashes in task names. Sub tasks ie Labour – Demolition should not be their own tasks and instead should use Labels inside the job template.

5) Unused Tasks
The best way to protect against unused tasks is to report on them. Tasks that routinely contain no information on your task based reporting should be removed. These tasks are not being used because they are not being done, are not explicit enough, are not understood by your staff or it’s a service you are better putting as a label under another task.

Task Based Reporting
The reward for all of our hard work defining and agreeing our task is task based reporting. His reporting answers the important question ‘What are we good at?’. It shows you how long activities typically take by different staff, let’s you plan better, price your services better and make more money. It lets you measure and monitor which activities make you the most money and where your attention should be. Do not be surprised to find unprofitable tasks in your business. How can these be repackaged or reimagined to be a profit-making activity for you? You may also find that some tasks are routinely under-quoted and over-run. Now you’ve got business information that leads to real decision making. Find out more about some custom reports you should be running in your WorkflowMax here.

If you’d like to some friendly advice on the best tasks for your business I’d recommend booking a quick session with us using this link.

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