May 14, 2015
How the award-winning architectural practice, Hudson Architects, replaced to-do lists and note-taking with DropTask to inspire efficiency and transparency throughout the business.
Philip Durban is the Director of Technology at Hudson Architects; a twenty-person award-winning architectural practice designing contemporary buildings throughout the UK and worldwide. Since signing up in the summer of 2013, DropTask has not only improved the day to day internal running of the business, but has added a level of enthusiasm and engagement amongst staff exceeding anything he could have ever hoped for…
“In 2012 we found ourselves overwhelmed with new projects at the tail-end of the recession. It was in this context that we became frustrated with our old-task management system where every employee was keeping a manual “to-do” list in an effectively private notebook.
Until 2 years ago, our normal business practice was to have a full team meeting every Monday where we would go round the room allowing each person to announce what they needed to do most urgently. We would then try to assimilate this information – and within the same meeting, find the best way to achieve and resource the task. It wasn’t the most perfect way of doing things at all, and tended to be knee-jerk reactive rather than properly planned.
“Every employee was keeping a manual “to-do” list in an effectively private notebook…We would go round the room allowing each person to announce what they needed to do most urgently”
We realized we needed a tool that would make task management more transparent, auditable and accessible to all. But being architects we’re slightly obtuse, and we instinctively respond better to very visual organizational tools – rather than just very long lists!
We scoured Google for a system that would work well for our needs and in the process we tried out quite a few fairly conventional systems across the world, most of which left us very unconvinced. However, as Director of Technology, I then stumbled across something called DropTask and it instantly “rocked my boat” from a visual point of view. It seemed to have startlingly good reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Soon afterwards, we projected DropTask onto our meeting room wall and demonstrated it to everyone in the company. DropTask’s visual style not only made it very easy to explain to everyone how it worked and why we should have it, but it also made all our staff enthusiastic to start entering their own projects.
So for the last 2 years we’ve had a principle that if anything is being done in the company it needs to show up somewhere in a DropTask project. We divide our projects into fee-earning projects and overhead projects. Our overhead projects will be the same as everyone else’s (office management, PR, etc), but our fee-earning projects are all about designing buildings, large and small. DropTask has the flexibility to allow a project to be completely unique, or based on a well-refined template – but most of our projects are pretty much one-off. Having said that, we have fairly clear internal protocols for which DropTask “groups” will be used in building projects, although we’ve also found that these groups need to be dynamic over the course of a multi-year building contract. DropTask offers exactly that flexibility.
“…for the last 2 years we’ve had a principle that if anything is being done in the company, it needs to show up somewhere in a DropTask project.”
But apart from DropTask’s intuitive visual strengths, there are other essential features which make it very powerful, including the ability to very easily allocate a fully defined task to any person inside or outside of the organization. As well as internal task delegation, we now require our IT contractor to respond to and update all our IT requests using DropTask. DropTask also makes it very easy to maintain a comprehensive audit trail for every event within the life of a task, and this audit trail semi-automatically tells us who did what, and when they did it.
DropTask has been powerful enough to inspire subtly new ways of working and has given us an intelligent overview of the totality of our workload – when that was otherwise very difficult to achieve!”
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