I have not felt the flutter of excitement that I used to feel when I automated something menial away. Today I felt that again when my intern, Mario, demoed the Task Management Platform (TMP).
The problem with managers
In our growing company, the list of tasks being worked on by everyone grows faster than the team is growing. What used to be a one-person manager (myself) managing a team of 3 has evolved into a three-tier system by which there is me, and the managers and the team.
This evolution has happened because I can no longer keep track of what everybody can do.
But the real problem boils down to the process.
The process today
The process today involves
- the manager disseminating tasks to individuals
- individuals will work on tasks
- (time passes by)
- individuals submit a task to the manager
- back to step 1
But this process is leaky.
Problem 1: Manager has to remember, and know what everybody is doing, all the time
To prevent instances by which
- Somebody is taking too long to complete a task
- Somebody is doing the wrong thing
Managers should not have to spend brain cycles wondering and keeping a check on what everybody is doing.
Problem 2: Managers disseminating tasks informally
How often have you wondered if something your boss said over lunch should be taken seriously as a task? Too many times.
Employees ought to have a single platform by which to pick up tasks. If Task X is not found on ___, then this task does not exist.
Problem 3: Managers wondering which staff are done with their tasks and are available for further allocation
Many times, a team member will submit a task and await the manager's order. Except for this time, the manager forgot. So said member ends up doing nothing and said the manager is not aware, until the next time his brain cycles kick in again and begin wondering what everyone is doing.
Introducing Task Management Platform
So I decided to specify a new formalized process, in the form of a Slackbot that connects our Trello board -- The Task Management Platform, otherwise known as the TMP.
This is how TMP works:
Task in Board, or it does not exist
Every task sits in a single Trello board, marked by a label which has a manager. The CTO will own the dev label. I will own the product label, so on and so forth.
It is the job of the manager, to thoroughly specify a job in words, and create a Trello card labeled correctly, and tasked to a person or a team.
The manager will then drag the card to the Todo list.
At this point, the Slackbot will notify the users tagged that a new job is available for them.
As a user, once you pick a job to work on: drag the card to the Doing list. The TMP Slackbot will now notify the admin that you are working on the task.
Upon completion of a task, the user will drag the Card to Done. At this point, the Slackbot will notify the admin of the achievement so he/she can review the task.
Job not done?
Before the end of every day, TMP Slackbot will send a private message to every user seeking a progress update for their current active task. Updates are then appended to the relevant Trello card so the manager can review anytime he wants.
Available human resources?
Every half an hour, the TMP Slackbot will look for users who do not have any tasks assigned to them and spam the channel until every staff is allocated work.
With TMP, I take another step at Nubela to automate away more menial processes of the company. More importantly, a win-win situation arises.
Everyone gets precise specifications for every task in a single platform. If a task is not specified and not in Trello, nobody will act on it.
Every manager will enjoy a relieve in the mental load required to keep abreast of everyone's development.
Just another lazy day for the lazy CEO.