Over many years we have worked with many different ‘task tracking’ systems. These have ranged from simple to-do lists through to powerful and complex IT bug tracking systems. One of the most contentious areas of task management is workflow.

Many people have different opinions about how workflow should be handled but generally it comes down to two schools of thought:

  1. workflow should be defined in detail and enforced strictly
  2. workflow should be very loosely defined (if at all)

Many IT managers prefer the first option and configure their systems with numerous workflow states and transitions that enforce the life cycle of a task. This allows them to create detailed reports on task progress, to detect tasks that are not moving in the right direction and to ensure all the necessary checks and tests are performed on a task.

But this approach generally only works on a specific type of project and often you find that you need to create different workflows for different projects. This leads to a large amount of time spent configuring and refining workflows and if you have many projects on at one time, it can even become quite confusing if they all have slightly different workflows and impossible to produce reports across all projects.

Kitovu is not intended as a highly technical tool and it is not targeted specifically to technical businesses. We believe that task management is something that all businesses can benefit from and while a strict workflow may initially seem appealing to a project manager, our experience is that it only ends up being a burden and source of frustration to all team members.

For these reasons we believe that adopting a simple standard workflow model across all projects is far more effective in the long run.

There are some basic principles we feel strongly about:

  1. all projects must share the same workflow
  2. the task creator must get an opportunity to review/check a task before it is closed.
  3. only the task creator can close a task

Kitovu’s workflow achieves these through 3 states:

  • Open – any task yet to be completed
  • Completed – assignee has completed the task
  • Closed – creator has confirmed completion

When a task is marked as completed, the creator is notified that they have completed tasks requiring closure. When completing a task you created for yourself Kitovu will also allow you close it immediately, so you don’t have to complete and then close. This is another little feature to ‘simplify’ workflow making it easier for users to manage this important aspect of task management.

This simple but effective system works for any type of project is easy to understand, allows for reporting across all projects and ensures quality testing of all tasks before they are closed. It is especially useful for users or managers who are delegating lots of tasks to other users.

Let us know how what experiences you have had with workflow and what thoughts you have about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to workflow.

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