How to initiate a Task Inventory in your team?
The path towards the greater agility of your team starts with you not changing anything in the way you manage your team. People who are part of this team perform specific roles and specific tasks – and you don’t need to change anything in this area. It’s much more important to understand and visualize what your team is actually doing and what process it uses in the selection and implementation of tasks.
During the Task Inventory, your primary goal is to analyze everything (like, 100% of everything) that your team is doing so that everyone in your team can find out what you do as a team. This is the first critical step in the destruction of individual silos.
How to realize the Task Inventory?
For this purpose, you will use a very familiar and straightforward tool – a Post-It®.
The Task Inventory works best when it’s organized as part of a more extended workshop carried out according to an established scenario, during which the orders and Tasks of your team are written down:
- Order – a group of tasks. We use it to group all the tasks that result in the implementation of a specific and measurable (determinable) result of the so-called work product. This can also be a fast-moving project.
- Task – a group of individual activities, resulting from the logical distribution of the order for activities. The implementation of all activities, i.e., tasks grouped under the order, means that the order is completed. People assigned to them will implement these tasks.
Here’s an example of such a workshop:
- Every participant in the workshop writes down all the tasks that he or she is currently carrying out on Post-It® cards – one task per one piece of paper,
- On each card, the participant writes down their name, the name of the task, for whom this task is carried out, and the date of delivery,
- Tasks are next grouped into orders, i.e., for the production of a retrievable product (or a fast-moving project),
- We stick tasks and assignments on a metal board or wall in a way that visualizes the relationship of orders and tasks,
- Of course, this is just an example – your workshop can be much more extensive. For the sake of simplicity, you can at first focus on tasks grouped by people responsible for implementing them.
- Here’s an example of the so-called swimlanes, or orders by which tasks can be arranged.
- The results of the Task Inventory
- During the implementation of the tasks and orders inventory, your team will get two benefits:
- It will get to know itself better because it will gain a basis for exchanging of information about who is currently occupied and how it affects the work of individual people,
- The scope and volume of work supported by different team members will be named and visualized.
Of course, this is just an example – your workshop can be much more extensive. For the sake of simplicity, you can at first focus on tasks grouped by people responsible for implementing them.
Here’s an example of the so-called swimlanes, or orders by which tasks can be arranged.
The results of the Task Inventory
During the implementation of the tasks and orders inventory, your team will get two benefits:
It will get to know itself better because it will gain a basis for exchanging of information about who is currently occupied and how it affects the work of individual people,
The scope and volume of work supported by different team members will be named and visualized.
Examples of visualization following the workshop
Example 1: An example showing how tasks are arranged by service lines.
Example 2: An example of the order screen and its tasks in Atlassian’s Jira. You can transfer all the data collected during the workshop to this system for further processing and visualization in an electronic form. That’s especially useful for distributed teams working remotely from many locations.
Here’s what a single task screen looks like in Jira:
Having all the information about tasks and their assignment to individual team members, you can proceed to their visualization on a Kanban board – which is the topic of my next article.