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Task Juggling - how do others manage task priorities?

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    Hi All

    First let me set the landscape. We have in our main office a team 4 who manage the clients and the tasks coming in, we call them 'owners'. It is unusual for all 4 to be in the office at the same time. Mostly we bump into each other a couple of times a week and the rest of the time are Skype or mobile calls, so not much sit down time.

    We have a team of 8 remote 'resources' who do the actual work, one of whom is the team leader and traffic manager.

    At any one time we will have between 30-100 tasks that are either in progress or awaiting a resource to complete the task.

    Our main problem is trying to make sure the tasks get done in the best possible order. At times tasks can get ignored, because we only look at task priority.

    Early on we realised we have multiple conflicting priories. Any of the 4 people can add tasks and they assign to the resource team leader and with only 3 priorities there was plenty of opportunities for conflict. Set the priority and of course everything is always urgent, cause if I dont set it as urgent, the task wont get to the top of the queue. The resource team leader can move things around between the resources and gets final sign off prior to assigning back to the owner.

    To stop the priority conflict we set a large number of priorities (16) with the idea being we speak every few days and assign the priorities between us. This way the remote resource manager can easily see what the main office team think is the most important and have resources allocated to the right tasks.

    Now we are finding the priority isn't really enough. For example if I have a medium task an set it in the task list, it may never been seen by the resources as they work on the high priority tasks. Even though the medium priority task is sitting there, other tasks are assigned as high and take priority. So the medium task never gets to the top of the queue.

    We also have situations where some tasks might take 5 minutes and some are 2 days. So the resource team leader will occasionally grab a heap of 5 minute tasks and allocate them. So the order of tasks can sometimes get messed around by estimate. Of course there is also Due Date which is when things are really required by. Ummmm lets just say we are not very good at guessing this. *blush*

    Now we have priority, estimate and due date that all come into looking at which task should be worked on today. If we add Billable takes precedence over non billable, it is another layer. It feels like we can never win and the resource is never working on what we think is the most important task.

    So I am sure I am not the only person on the planet with this issue. We are all a bit close to the problem and don't really have an answer, so I decided to throw it out to the wider audience and see what happens.

    I welcome all comments and suggestions including "I cant believe how stupid you people are just do blah!"

    Many Thanks!

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    Is intervals practical for Architectural firms?
    • Michael
    • Apr 3rd 2014 edited @ 04/03/2014 11:13 am
     

    Regarding task priorities, we use Agile methodologies and handle daily priorities via a standup meeting. I don't know if something similar might work for your needs but if so here is some more information about the daily standup meeting that might be worth a look http://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/agile/scrum/daily-scrum/. It is more of a communication solution than a software solution, but during or after the meeting the tasks can be updated to represent the current priorities. Here is another link about doing daily standup meetings with remote teams.

    Regarding architectural firms, we do have architectural firms using Intervals. If you have any specific questions our support team can address we recommend contacting our support team direct at support@myintervals.com. The forums are in the process of being phased out and will be replaced by an official Intervals support site.

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