Tag Archives: Work Processes

How DropTask takes center stage at the ‘Zebra Financial’ offices

Frank Xiriha, Managing Director of Mortgage Brokering Company ‘Zebra Financial’, was looking to build a more productive and efficient process for the internal day-to-day operations within his company. With up to 8 stages that client files must progress through before completion, performing duties and keeping on track of status proved to be an issue for Frank and his team, until he found DropTask. By eliminating the hurdles, DropTask provided the team with a complete oversight of the entire business and the processes within it.

‘Prior to finding DropTask, we were searching for a tool that gave us that ‘big picture overview’. This search was not only time consuming but it also turned into a repetitive and boring task.

‘DropTask is now a vital part of our day-to-day operations’

Being an ‘outside the box’ thinker, I made it my personal mission to explore new ways to solve our problem of keeping track of each stage of sale process, while at the same time ensuring that when we found the right solution, it would be an easy transition for the team. After what seemed like forever sifting through various task management platforms, one of the most intuitive and visually pleasing was DropTask. The visuals that I was presented with from the very beginning was a welcoming first impression, and was fun and friendly to work with.

Before making the decision to move to DropTask, we had various methods of tracking our day-to-day processes. Among these methods were spreadsheet software, markerboards and filing cabinets; all proving to be ineffective, overly complex, and required a huge amount of effort to maintain. But with DropTask, staying on track has never been so easy.

Our usual way of managing projects was by using an old fashioned markerboard, but we’ve since upgraded our projects to a 65″ TV which now takes center stage in the middle of our office.

One of the key features we use to manage and oversee stages within projects is the Workflow View. The Workflow View replicates the way we used to try and manage stages on the markerboard, except now we’ve spared ourselves the time of rubbing and re-writing names on the board. The Workflow is easy for the team to use, and has proven to be a seamless transition for us all.

The team LOVE DropTask and the fact it gives them the ability to update tasks even when they are away from the office. The app’s online and offline capabilities and availability on different devices means that work is easily accessible, even outside of traditional working hours. This proved to be the most substantial ability that the app provides, as it guarantees effective collaboration between a range of employees; whether they’re working in the office or remotely.

Going digital with our daily processes has been the best decision that we’ve ever made. To monitor our processes, we create a task to represent each client deal that’s in progress. As the task moves through its own process, in the Workflow view we drag and drop the bubble into its corresponding vertical swimlane. This makes each stage instantly identifiable, and makes knowing what’s in progress and what’s completed visible at a single glance.

The fact that DropTask is overall visually pleasing and user friendly was the main reason why I made the decision to introduce it to my business. The ability to Assign Tasks to members of the team and allocate them to a particular file by simply adding their Avatar image onto a task is useful to the whole team. Everyone not only knows who’s assigned to which task, but with their avatar image displayed on the task circle it reminds them that they’re responsible to complete it. I can’t remember a time without DropTask as it’s now an integral part of our day and how we get work into its completed stage.’

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Improving business processes & increasing effectiveness by 80% with DropTask

The Vestack Group of companies deliver a broad range of services and each company has their own goals, hierarchies and communication channels. With Group wide goals and provisions also in place, CEO Shaun Kennard, was in need of a solution to coordinate the multitude of activities.

Shaun Kennard - CEO, Vestack Group“As CEO, I faced the problem of keeping tabs on all of the key activities that were being undertaken within each company and the progress that was being made. Trying to communicate with others, as well as set, delegate, and action different tasks based on various topics and companies, became very challenging. Many tasks were emailed to others, but once sent, they were assumed to be delegated or done, and were not followed up with – which became a nightmare in itself.

“I was primarily looking for a balance between price, functionality and simplicity.”

Through some research, I came across DropTask. I did investigate a few other software options but I was primarily looking for a balance between price, functionality and simplicity. In the end I decided on DropTask. I received very good support from the team at DropTask, which I must admit made the decision even easier.

As with any new business tool or process, it did take a bit of time to change people’s attitudes and to get our staff using the software. The primary factor in getting our staff on board was buy-in from management; once they bought into the app we gradually moved more and more support functions into DropTask. We also offered basic training and support to all of our users, but with DropTask’s biggest advantage being that it is so visual and takes a simple approach, it is very easy to use.

HOW WE USE THE APP

Using DropTask within the team

Our method for using DropTask is easy; each company creates their own projects with the name of the company and the specified topic as the project title. Within the project, secondary topics are defined using groups; each group contains our tasks and everything that needs to be done.

Whether its meetings, financial feedback or risk management progress, many of our projects are continually updated and will never be completed. As they don’t have logical start or finish dates, DropTask is used as an ongoing tool for our tasks.

DropTask has been effective in seeing some projects through from inception to completion, such as event days. All stages of the project are managed in DropTask; from the initial planning and task allocation, to preparation and evaluation after the event has been held. We would also envisage using DropTask to manage the launch of a new product – from the inception stage right through until the final launch.

“Many of our projects are continually updated…DropTask is used as an ongoing tool for our tasks.”

DropTask is also used as a short and long term planner by each user. Consequently, their time management can be made much more effective by planning their day, listing the key tasks (as Subtasks) to their daily planner and then ensuring they focus on it. All team members are encouraged to use the app to its full potential. Not so much in terms of the different features, but thinking about our business processes and limiting the management thereof on DropTask only; thus not duplicating systems.Scheduling and managing meetings in DropTask

For example, in addition to meetings being scheduled through DropTask, we also have the app open during meetings, so interactions can be immediately recorded and actions created. As a result, we have moved away from diaries, agendas and minutes.

“I would argue that in respect of the matters we use DropTask for, we have increased our effectiveness by 80%.”

We have found that the functionality of DropTask is spot on; we’re not overloaded with unused icons and features and the visual simplicity reduces the busyness of projects and prevents data overload. Since using DropTask I would say there has been a 20% increase in each person’s productivity, and an even bigger influence on business effectiveness. By this, I mean the way that we deal with issues, delegate tasks, remind each other and ensure focus. Effectiveness will of course impact productivity, and I would argue that in respect of the matters we use DropTask for, we have increased our effectiveness by 80%.

We have been offered various alternative task management tool options, but with DropTask working the way it has, and with it also continually improving key functionality within the Group, I cannot see us moving to another solution.”

Improve your productivity and effectiveness by signing up for free today at www.droptask.com/signup

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Productivity vs. Creativity

Productivity and creativity are often said to be opposed and at battle with one another; in order to be productive you have to sacrifice creativity, and if you wish to be creative, you must forgo being productive.

Creativity focuses on the quality of work and the development of new ideas – giving little thought to time. Productivity on the other hand, is about putting the wheels in motion – it focuses on getting things done and reaching goals in the most effective way, in the least amount of time.

But does a trade-off between the two have to exist, or can productivity and creativity be balanced so they’re not fundamentally at odds with one another? After all, if we’re to be successful we need to be both productive and creative.

You may be creative and have amazing new ideas, but without productivity, those ideas are simply that – ideas. Similarly, if you’re productive in your work but don’t have any creativity in your process, you become stuck in a routine and are likely to miss out on new opportunities.

As you can see, both productivity and creativity are important, and although the possibility of combining them is questionable, we’ve got 3 steps which will allow you to synchronise them; so each can do what it does best when appropriate.

1. Separate your tasks

Identify whether tasks are productive or creativeIn any project you’re likely to have a mixture of both creative and productive tasks. The key is to break down your project and identify whether productivity or creativity is best suited for each one. It’s important to do this because even though a project might be creative – for example, designing a new website – it doesn’t necessarily mean that every task within that project will be creative too. Tasks such as brainstorming ideas and designing the layout are creative, but actions such as proofing and publishing web pages are more about being productive.

2. Schedule creative time

Schedule time for creative thinking and activitiesOnce you’ve identified the tasks that primarily require creativity, allocate yourself time and space to undertake some creative thinking. Whether it’s 20 minutes or several hours, it’s important to schedule time in your day which can be spent away from your usual activities, so you can brainstorm new ideas and gain fresh perspectives.

3. Establish a workflow

Set up workflows to enhance productivity and efficiency

For the productive tasks, a workflow of activity should be set up to optimize efficiency and to limit work in progress. By mapping out each stage of your project cycle, you can easily monitor work as it passes through the cycle, and quickly address any bottlenecks; ensuring tasks flow through each step of the process smoothly – which is essential for a fast and consistent delivery of work.

How do you balance creativity and productivity while you work? Share your top tips with us in the comments below.

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Are you doing too much? How shared planning can save time & improve work processes

With team members each using different methods for managing workloads, and with no easy way to view all activities, Hamish More – Director of People & Capability for the New Zealand Fire Service, was after a more streamlined and collaborative solution that the whole team could use.Hamish More, Director of People & Capability for The New Zealand Fire Service

“Before DropTask, there was no consistent approach for planning and managing tasks within my department, and team members were all using various methods. There was a common complaint from our people of “we’re doing too much”, but with no clear overview of all activities, no-one could easily explain – or ‘see’ what was causing all of the busyness. To overcome this problem, I wanted to adopt a shared planning approach and so needed a tool which would give a visible indication of the number of activities we had under way, and allow for the whole team to contribute.

“DropTask appealed to me most because of its unique visual interface and the ability to ‘see’ relationships between tasks.”

While searching for apps and tools to help manage workloads, I looked at a few options, but DropTask appealed to me most because of its unique visual interface and the ability to ‘see’ relationships between tasks. I signed up for the free version of DropTask and within a matter of weeks a large number of the team were using DropTask PRO.The New Zealand Fire Service TeamDropTask is used on a daily basis by the team in a variety of ways – all of which are hugely valuable to us. I primarily use it to track reporting on projects, so I know which reports need approving. In one DropTask project, Cameron Hawke (Project Manager for our Service Resilience & Development Team), has set-up a sequence of groups – one for “drafting”, one for “ready to approve”, and one for “approved”, others also include “closed” and “rejected”. Applying a Kanban-like method of working, we manage the process by moving tasks between these groups. When a task hits the “ready to approve” stage, I’m assigned to that task and I instantly receive a notification (both within the app and via email) of my new task – I then have 5-days to either approve or reject the attached report for that task.

“…they had an “aha” moment when they saw the large visualization of our work.”

I also use DropTask to manage the team’s activities; the visual nature of the app allows me to get a good idea of the amount of work just by glancing at a project and seeing who is assigned to what. I’m then able to present and share this information with other colleagues to illustrate our workloads. If I need to delegate new tasks, or re-assign existing ones, then the drag and drop functionality of the app – which I love – makes it quick and easy to do so.

DropTask Project using iPad AppDropTask has surprised many people in the team; they had an “aha” moment when they saw the large visualization of our work, and started seeing where most of their time was being spent and why they were so busy. Now, by prioritizing our work in DropTask, we’re able to better utilize our time by focusing on what’s important, and spending less time on – or even putting on hold, low priority tasks.

“DropTask has helped introduce efficiencies and effectiveness.”

I would say that DropTask has helped introduce efficiencies and effectiveness around our reporting and has also given me a far better oversight of workloads and status. It has saved me a lot of time by helping to make our work processes much easier and faster.”

Collaborate with your team and see what DropTask can do for you by signing up for free today at www.droptask.com/signup

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