Task Management

Marilyn Sanford smartPRENEUR Blog Series

In my last smartPRENEUR Blog we spoke to the importance of creating systems to capture detail and ensure effective information flow.   There is no question that task management systems are critical.  Automating is a big help, especially once clear processes which have been documented and tried, are in place. 

Some key benefits of task management software: 

  • Single place for task management and optimization
  • Seamless Task prioritization and delegation
  • Anytime and anywhere access to data
  • Improved collaboration of tasks

This aids productivity and time management.  Additionally, automation systems developed within your own Industry can provide opportunities to synergize, capturing process flows that benefits all users.  

From the kick off team to final sign-off including process review, it is important to look at the tasks needed to complete, on time, on budget, to client expectations.   Additionally, automating systems can help capture realistic timelines, which is easier said than done.  

Are You Under Pricing Labor?

When we first automated our systems, we thought it a great idea to include the labor estimate with the product.  Our product pricing to clients therefore included product selling price and the labor associated.  We found that we were chronically under quoting labor.  After monitoring this, we learned that time outside of the actual installation, which included interruptions, trips to the truck for odd parts, as well as unique differences between jobs, resulted in a significant and surprisingly consistent gap in our pricing vs actual.   We were chronically under pricing labor. 

The systems we had, allowed us visibility and therefore insights into what it actually took to do the whole job profitably rather than a single task accurately.  

Job Insights

There is some very good information on the internet.  I particularly like the insights into the role that an automated task management system can play in boosting productivity.  It provides a single place for tasks to be captured and enough insights to help optimize productivity.  This may refer to parts, providing history and context, including detailed documentation or as-builts for service or completion. 

It can also create a path to delegate certain tasks for fast and effective follow through, or to help prioritize the lists.  Keep in mind effective versus efficient.  I can do a task efficiently but is it the right task at this point? Task management can provide a vehicle to integrate this thinking into the details of work execution. 

A good task management system also provides immediate access to all stakeholders.  With some systems this includes the client having the ability to make updates.  This is less onerous on the team and improves collaboration, both within and outside the direct team.

About the Author

Marilyn Sanford

Marilyn is a Professional Accountant. She spent 23 years running trade based businesses, offering Low Voltage Custom Integration solutions to demanding and discriminating customers for high end residences and businesses. She has served on boards, taught in her Industry and is a Fellow of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA). Marilyn Co—founded Smart fx in 1992, merged with La Scala in 2000 and later acquired LaScaIa in 2007. Over the years running a custom installation business, she learned what it takes to run a profitable business dependent on construction timelines. These insights and lessons learned, delivering ‘skilled labour’ as a primary service offering, were the seeds that grew the LincEdge concept.

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