How to Manage the Life Cycle of a Task

John Reeve | November 3rd, 2017 | ,

How to Manage the Life Cycle of a Task

One of the first steps in developing any web project is to break down the scope of work into manageable tasks. The outcome of this process should be a grouped and sorted list of tasks that your team will work through until the project is complete. Once you’ve got that list, how do you manage the life cycle of each task? We recommend creating a task workflow and implementing it using task management software. Here’s how.

Creating a task workflow

The first and most difficult step is to create a workflow that works for your team. In a nutshell, a workflow is a series of steps each task might go through before it can be considered complete. The difficulty lies in coming up with a workflow that not only encompasses your team’s processes, but, will also accommodate some level of deviance from task to task. For example, only a few tasks will require a client review, but it still needs to be a step in our workflow.

Below is an example of a task workflow based on how our web design and development agency managed tasks for over a decade. In our experience, a task might hit any or all of these steps during its life cycle.

  • Open
    Where every task begins. Let’s team members know they can start working on the task.
  • In Progress
    Task is currently in development.
  • Need Assistance
    The person working on this task is stuck. Signals to team members to jump in and help.
  • On Hold
    Task has been deferred for any given reason. The team can ignore this task for the time being.
  • Client Review
    Deliverable currently being reviewed by client. The team’s project manager can take this as a cue to check in with the client.
  • Verify and Close
    The task is ready to be reviewed and marked as completed. The quality assurance arm of the team should get involved at this point.
  • Closed
    Task is completed. Nothing else needs to happen on this task.

Managing task workflows with software

Once you’ve created a workflow your tasks become more than just a simple list of to-dos. You are going to need task management software that goes beyond implementing tasks as a series of check boxes. This is because each task will have its own life cycle — a series of steps that need to be handled by the software.

At the minimum, look for software that will implement your workflow using a feature like task statuses, and allows you to customize the pool of task statuses available to your team. This feature is essential because task statuses are the signals that communicate to your team where any given task is at in any given moment of its life cycle.

To take full advantage of your new task workflow, look for software that will record the history of status updates on each task. This feature is indispensable for teams who want to know what happened and when it happened. For example, when a task is waiting for client feedback, you need to know how long the it’s been under review to avoid nagging your client.

Good task management software will do more than just systematize your workflow. It will improve team collaboration and efficiency, increase the number of projects completed on time and under budget, and make your agency more productive and profitable.


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A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve
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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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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer Payne

Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Michael Payne
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Michael Payne

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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