New Intervals Feature: Task Checklists

| October 20th, 2014 | , , ,

Breaking down a project into smaller tasks is a simpler way to structure and manage your workflow. But there are times when you need to break down a task into smaller to-do lists. To accommodate this need, we’ve enhanced our online task management tool to allow for the addition of task checklists to the summary and comment fields.

Instead of creating one task per to-do, task checklists make it possible to create one task containing several to-dos, making it easy to see at a glance what’s been done, and what’s still incomplete.

Task Checklist for Online To-dos

This feature is located in the advanced editor when creating or updating a task. Then click on the checkbox icon in the editor toolbar. Checklists work similar to number and bullet lists — press the Enter key to go to the next line and create a new checkbox, and use the indent icons to create nested checklists.

Once the checklist has been created, task owners and assignees can mark items complete by updating the task and clicking on the checkbox. Items marked as completed will be denoted by a check mark and lighter shade of grey.

There are numerous scenarios where checklists are a big help in managing tasks online:

  • Use checklists as an alternative to subtasks
  • Assignee responsibility to different individuals on tasks with multiple assignees
  • Easily skim and keep track of completed to-dos in the task summary
  • Manage one task with a checklist of to-dos instead of breaking it down into smaller tasks
  • Create sublists using the indentation feature to break down your to-dos even more

This is just a sampling of examples where checklists can benefit your task management workflow. We would love to hear your feedback on this new feature for our online task management tool. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and share your thoughts.

15 Responses to “New Intervals Feature: Task Checklists”

  1. Daryl says:

    Will the history show who checked off a box in the checklist? Why wouldn’t you truly make it a “sub-task” component and allow it to at least be assigned to someone and default to the task owner if not. I saw this in a very well developed Kanban web board. We used it for awhile but it just wasn’t enough for us. But I did like that feature.

    Last it would make a lot of sense if the owner of the task would be the only one capable of checking off the list sense he is responsible for the completion of the task. With multiple assignees (and users) I can see this running amuck real quick (unless the history notes who checked a box).

  2. John Reeve says:

    @Daryl, if the checklist is in the task summary the history will record who made the change. If the checklist is on a task comment, changes will not be recorded.

    Thank you for the feedback. We tried to make the checklists flexible and not impose too many restrictions on them. This was done to accommodate the diversity in how our customers are integrating checklists into their workflow.

  3. Amy says:

    Can you assign due dates to these as well?
    That would be very helpful.

  4. John Reeve says:

    @Amy, this is not supported, but we’ll take the idea under consideration. One potential workaround is to note the date each checkbox should be completed.

  5. Jeff says:

    This is completely useless if you can’t add due dates and assignees, seems like it would be such an easy feature to add to the checklists…Once again intervals is one step behind.

  6. John Reeve says:

    @Jeff, Thanks for the feedback. Should we decide to take the new checklist feature in that direction, we’ll be sure to let you know.

  7. Anna says:

    I don’t see this option

  8. John Reeve says:

    @Anna, the checklist option can be found by first clicking on “Enable advanced editor.” Then click on the checkbox icon to create a checklist.

    If the checkbox icon is not appearing, the browser cache may need to be cleared. If you continue to experience problems loading the checklist, please contact our support team by logging in to your Intervals account and clicking on the “Find a bug?” link at the bottom left of any page.

  9. Anna says:

    Thanks, I was the cache

  10. Kim says:

    Hi

    I was just wondering if this feature is supported by the api or not?

    I would also like to see a real subtask implementation, because this will fit our needs better.

  11. John Reeve says:

    @Kim, this feature has limited support in the API. The checkboxes are HTML code that Intervals interprets and renders as checklists. To use them via the API, one would need to pass in the HTML as part of the task summary or task comment field. To see the HTML, just view source on any task that contains a checklist.

  12. Kim says:

    Hi

    Thanks for the answer. I really hope you introduce real subtask as this will help us to breakdown a task and make monitoring easier

  13. John Reeve says:

    @Kim, the best way to handle subtasks using Intervals is with Milestones. Milestones allow you to create a “parent” task, what we call a Milestone, and then group several tasks under it. Milestones are a great way to break down projects into smaller groupings of subtasks.

  14. Kim says:

    @john

    I know about milestones but there are complications by using them.

    Forexample a customer order task A and we decomposes it to

    Task A
    — sub Task SA
    — sub Task SB

    This is transfered into

    Milestone (Task A)
    — Task SA
    — Task SB

    The problem with this is that we now are billing on the subtask. Most of our sub task is technical or abstract of nature for the customer. So when the customer sees the bill they don’t understand it because it is not what they have ordered. We decomposes a task if the task is bigger than a workday. This helps us to understand if there is an issue with a task/subtask when we are having a scrum standup meeting.

    Also I believe that it is not possible to have a milestone inside a milestone so the following scenario is also problematic

    Task A
    — sub Task SAA
    — sub Task SAB

    Task B
    — sub Task SBA
    — sub Task SBB

    this will can be transferred into

    Milestone (Task A & Task B)
    — Task SAA
    — Task SAB
    — Task SBA
    — Task SBB

    In this scenario we are losing the understanding of dependency between task and subtasks

    The other transformation is

    Milestone (Task A)
    — Task SAA
    — Task SAB
    Milestone (Task B)
    — Task SBA
    — Task SBB

    The problem here is slower creation of new work and people(executors of the tasks) needs to look at multiple milestone. In some case if they are located in a milestone if they are complex to understand the dependency. If they are simple they need to look under tasks. The billing is still an issue. I also loose the possibility of a real milestone within the project. For example

    Milestone M1 (budget to X)
    –Task A
    —- sub Task SAA
    —- sub Task SAB

    –Task B
    —- sub Task SBA
    —- sub Task SBB

    if I transform this into (chose this as I would like to keep the dependency )

    Milestone (Task A) – sets to the deadline of m1
    — Task SAA
    — Task SAB
    Milestone (Task B) – sets to the deadline of m1
    — Task SBA
    — Task SBB

    This gives me the problem of not seeing the total budget for m1 in an easy way.

    So I still hope you will reconsider the subtask idea, because I believe you can make a better solution :)

  15. Casper says:

    Hi John

    I would very like to have subtasks as well. According to your Kanban Beta release milestones are used to “group”/”simulate” scrum sprints. This leaves only the task level to actually have tasks which could be divided into subtasks. Each subtask could have its own lifecycle (being tested or approved) while the task itself is still under development. An example from our business is a task of displaying some new data from an ERP system in our system. This task might take 3-5 hours and thereby be small enough to be a single task. The task however can be divided into two subtasks “Find and extract data from ERP system” and “Display data in our system” having different assignees (an ERP specialist and a designer).

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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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