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How to Coordinate Tasks and Priorities in Team


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1) Why we need to coordinate work in the team?
Very often we face a challenging situation when one employee gets assigned to multiple tasks belonging to different projects (which are to be done during the same period of time), so he or she becomes confused with this bunch of competing priorities, and as a result this employee has to seek some direction from his or her manager, otherwise the whole working process can be failed. It is a matter of primal managerial interest to analyze and control how the priorities upon the tasks in the team are coordinated (harmonized and balanced in regard with each other).

In fact many companies cannot cope timely with all their projects and tasks they have been started. This happens because the business environment and internal conditions may change with time (for example staff can be reduced for some economic reasons), as well as different projects may have different values for a company’s success (some of projects can bring more benefits to organization than others, so they must be completed primarily, meanwhile others can be put on hold).

Why the employees need a continual coordination upon their tasks and priorities:

  • Managers cannot just load their employees with unregulated flow of incoming tasks, as this will lead to a complete task saturation and overfatigue causing lack of productivity. Managers need to consider current workloads of every employee before delegating any new tasks to him or her, as probably some of his/her pending tasks can be canceled and postponed;
  • Overlapping projects and tasks create conflicting demands on the team members (assignments begin to grow, while individuals cannot cope with them effectively anymore). Managers need to appraise all tasks to know exactly which of them are worth of employee’s attention and efforts. This will help to concentrate limited resources of a company only at really valuable tasks;
  • Conflicting priorities create a mess in the work assignments of team members, so things aren’t done properly: some tasks stay undone, or delayed and then rushed, hence the quality suffers. In order to avoid all these problems any arising conflicts around priorities must be addressed very quickly and competently.

2) A simple way to coordinate (harmonize) tasks and priorities in the team:

  1. If the company owns a portfolio of different projects which struggle for resources, then apply Project Ranking methods to define which of these projects are really worth of investments:
    • Benefit measurement: Cost-benefit analysis; Weighted scoring models; Cashflow analysis (payback period, Internal Rate of Return (IRR), Net Present Value (NPV));
    • Constrainted Optimization (for large projects);
  2. Let the management discuss and decide which of the highly-ranked projects will be in focus of the company during the next period of time (along with the projects to be completely put aside):
    • Top Projects – the most worthy ones, need all the resources to be concentrated at them;
    • Minor Projects – promising projects, need to be back to them from time to time;
    • Low-gain projects – need to be stopped, revised and reexamined as appropriate;
  3. Escalate working priorities for all the tasks which belong to the most valuable projects (it would be convenient to use some network-based project management software, because it can help you to set priorities of tasks remotely, just in one or several clicks);
  4. Inform everyone in the team (if possible individually) about which tasks can be dismissed at the moment, and appraise the results which they (employees) have already at hands;
  5. Consider how these results (obtained during the performance of already postponed tasks) can be used for accelerating the newly prioritized workloads;
  6. Help employees in revising their working tasks and objectives. Point which of the tasks are both urgent and important (to be executed at the first place);
  7. Make sure all the tasks, jobs, and work priorities are confirmed with employees and their direct supervisors/managers, as it is demanded by your enacted workplace procedures;
  8. Make sure that all employees who have to collaborate with each other at their tasks are well-informed on the recent re-prioritization and hence are capable of updating their co-operation;
  9. Make sure there are no employees who have more of important and urgent tasks than he or she can complete with given time and available resources (support feasibility of assignments);

3) A simple way to coordinate tasks and priorities in the team with VIP Task Manager:
VIP Task Manager is a client-server product that stands for collaboration between people, so it enables the managers to coordinate priorities for their employees in terms of particular tasks. Let’s consider simple step-by-step instructions to harmonize working priorities using this product:

Instruments to be used:

  • Task Tree mode;
  • Task List mode;

Task Tree mode actions:

  1. Review the project folders and all included tasks;
  2. Point and highlight a bunch of tasks (do a group selection) to be escalated in terms of priorities;
  3. Use right-click context menu to Increase their priorities (up to High, Highest or Urgent);
  4. Define which of pending tasks can be dismissed;
  5. Send dismissed tasks to Archive or change their status to “Put on Hold”, “Cancelled”, etc;
  6. Revise Start and Finish dates, and other attributes of the tasks (if required);
  7. Add some explanations into Notes section of the task;
  8. Use “Attachments” to add some links to any work-related documents;

Task List mode actions:

  1. Filter your tasks by field Priority;
  2. Group and Sort your tasks by values of their priorities;
  3. Hold “Shift” button to combine sorting by Priority with sorting by Due Date (or Finish time);
  4. Execute the tasks by going down through the list from the highest priorities (and the most urgent due dates) down to the lowest ones;
  5. Knock out the done tasks by changing their Statuses to “Complete”;
  6. Add feedbacks to the tasks (“Comments” panel);

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