When you’re an experienced project manager, the notion of using checklists and other task trackers may seem like a step backward. If you’re in a leadership position that relies on knowledge and ability, should it be easy to keep track of all steps in your project timeline? If you can’t, does it speak volumes about your professional competency?
Not at all. The truth is that the more important responsibilities you have, the easier it becomes to make mistakes. One medical doctor, Atul Gawande, was so convinced of the value of task trackers in his work that he wrote an entire book on the subject- The Checklist Manifesto. This bestseller confirmed that a simple checklist can be an invaluable tool for professionals with increasingly complex responsibilities. (This includes project managers!)
As a project manager, you’re expected to keep on top of everything even when the phone is ringing off the hook, impatient emails are flooding in, and you’re stuck in meetings for hours at a time. You also have to master technological resources that update regularly. Without a solid project management strategy that includes task trackers, even the most experienced managers can be derailed by scope creep and missed deadlines.
Checklists compensate for the limitations of human memory by itemizing all the necessary steps in a task, making them handy tools for improving team productivity. By putting all necessary information and guidelines in one place, they also help ensure that you don’t waste valuable time answering the same questions and explaining the same processes to multiple team members.
Other benefits include:
After identifying all project requirements and dividing each one into deliverables, the next step is to outline all the tasks needed to complete them. You’ll have to consider resources as well because their availability will affect task delivery, and develop contingency plans in response to foreseeable risks.
It’s been estimated that the average person can retain seven items of information for no more than 30 seconds, so a well-planned task tracker makes it easier to prioritize and focus. You will also have a good overview of the initial project situation, allowing you to cast the right team and plan the timeline.
While you can theoretically use a pen and paper to create a task tracker, the more productive approach is to put one together using project management software such as Teamweek.
Teamweek’s new checklist feature improves team productivity by breaking key tasks down into smaller units and making it possible to check them off one by one. Not only are you better able to monitor progress, but individual team members are empowered because the system gives them the direction they need. They spend less time asking questions and more time working on the tasks. As an added bonus, you can track your team’s activity visually thanks to a progress bar on the task’s lower section. This visual aid makes it easier for you to:
Teamweek uses color-coding to make your task list intuitive and easy to follow. The affirmation everyone will receive from seeing themselves make progress will motivate them to work through the timeline in a dedicated and organized manner.
Regardless of how you put your task tracker together, be prepared to amend or update it as needed. You may have to add things you initially overlooked or forgot and remove steps that proved to be unnecessary, but soon you will have a task tracker that you and your team can rely on to help you consistently produce quality work.