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How To: Start and Manage Tasks

Overview

Tasks are where you’ll track the day to day operations of your practice. It is important to note that tasks are the most basic way of managing your practice operations. Processes on the are a tool for your team members to efficiently manage multiple tasks. To better understand the importance of tasks and processes in PractiFI, check out our deep dive.

Here, we explain how to start  a new task. Ready?

How can I start a new task?

Starting tasks can be accomplished in three primary ways: As a standalone task on the client view, as a new task within a process or simply as a personal task for a team member. These options enhance flexibility for your practice by allowing for one-off client tasks, project task management and personal task management, respectively.

  1. The first two methods of starting a task are accomplished from the client view, so first head to the household where you’d like to add a task. To launch a standalone task from the Processes & Tasks tab, select either Open Tasks or Completed Tasks, then select the green Add New icon.  For example, if you wanted to call the client in 8 days to ask how their family vacation went, you could create a task to remind yourself to make that call.  This is useful in situations where there is an important action to take for the client, but the action does not relate to a larger process or service operation.

    Processes &  Tasks - Start a Standalone Task

    Processes & Tasks – Start a Standalone Task

  2. The second method of starting a task is within a process. Select the Processes & Tasks view, ensure you have the Processes tab selected, select the edit button next to a process and finally select the green plus sign located on the Tasks tab. This method is quite useful if new action is required on an existing process.  It’s quite easy to assign a new task on the fly during your daily client operations. (If you’re a visual learner, see the below picture.) For more information on using Processes to improve your organization and efficiency, check out our How To: Start and Manage a Process tutorial.

    View/Edit Client Process - Start a Task Within a Process

    View/Edit Client Process – Start a Task Within a Process

  3. The third method for creating a task is accomplished from the team member view. First, navigate to a team member in the top nav search bar. Team members will have a small person icon to differentiate them from client accounts, etc. usericon From this team member view, select the Processes & Tasks tab, select the Open Tasks subtab and then select the plus sign to add a new task. This area is useful for adding tasks that may be personal or for your practice rather than a specific client. Paying your utility bills, calling a vendor and the yearly spring cleaning operation are all examples of team member tasks.

    Processes & Tasks - New  Team Member Task

    Processes & Tasks – New Team Member Task

  4. After utilizing one of the above three methods to start your task, you will first see the Task Detail screen which allows you to modify the following details:
    • Subject: Write a name for the task. Try to use a concise phrase to sum up the task in just a few words, e.g. “Mail client welcome package”
    • Related To: If desired, relate this task to another item in the current household. For example, another process, service or client within the same household.  Services, clients, and processes in other households or families cannot be linked.
    • Priority: Choose whether this task is of Low, Normal or High importance. Tasks marked High will gain a red font on the priority column, which is sure to grab attention!
    • Stage: Indicate whether this task is Not Started, In Progress or Completed.
    • Due Date: Pick the date this task is scheduled or required to be completed by the assigned team member. If overdue, this field will also turn red.
    • Assigned To: Assign a team member responsibility for completing this individual task.
    • Description: If necessary, add notes about the task in this large text area.
    • Estimated Effort: Enter the projected amount of time expected to complete this task.
    • Actual Effort: Enter the final time spent by the team member to complete this task.
    • Variance: This field is an automatically calculated set of fields which contrast the actual and estimated effort times for the current task.

      Task Tabs - "Task Detail"

      Editing the Task Details

  5. The feed tab allows you to write individual notes, upload documents, and send chatter messages to team members. This can be useful for sharing client documents, meeting notes and/or audio files. For more information about the PractiFI feed tool, read our feeds tutorial (coming soon!)

    Task Tabs - "Feed"

    Utilizing the Feed Tab on a Task

  6. When finished entering all the details for your new task, select the Save button to start your new task!
How do I manage tasks?

As you’ve seen, starting a task is quite easy and PractiFI delivers some nice options to process a variety of situations. Managing your tasks just as simple, and it’s important to understand the strategies for managing these different types of tasks. Just like starting a task, managing them is broken down into three areas: standalone tasks, process tasks and team member tasks. Remember, if you haven’t created your task yet, you’ll need to refer to the section above first.

  1. The first two methods of managing a task are still accomplished from the client view, so head to the household where you’d like to add a task. To manage a standalone task, select the Processes & Tasks tab(1) and then select either Open Tasks(2) or Completed Tasks. From here, choose the task you’d like to manage by selecting the edit icon(3). Managing a standalone task can be useful in situations such as rescheduling a phone call, changing a due date, or re-assigning the task to a new team member.

    Processes & Tasks - Manage a Standalone Task

    Processes & Tasks – Manage a Standalone Task

  2. Managing a task within a process is also accomplished from the client view. Managing tasks from the process view is most useful when needing to edit multiple tasks related to a process.  For example, let’s imagine a client meeting is coming up next week and Dan, a lead adviser, needs to take an emergency leave of absence. Not to worry, PractiFI makes it simple to see the list of tasks within the process for this meeting, and make corresponding edits. First, navigate to the Processes & Tasks tab (1), then select the Processes list(2). Select the edit icon(3) next to the Process which will be affected Dan’s absence. Choose the Tasks list(4) and select the edit icon(5) next to each task which needs editing. In the example below, we see a financial advice process where Dan is scheduled to remind the client of their meeting, conduct the meeting and write followup notes. Since Dan is out, we can quickly reassign these tasks to another adviser, edit due dates and add any additional tasks as necessary.

    Processes & Tasks - Manage Process Task List

    Processes & Tasks – Manage Process Task List

  3. Managing a team member is accomplished from the team member view. This is the area your practice will utilize when a team member task (i.e. Paying your utility bills, calling a vendor or the yearly spring cleaning operation) changes, and quick edits are necessary. First, navigate to a team member in the top nav search bar. Team members will have a small person icon to differentiate them from client accounts, etc. usericon From this team member view, select the Processes & Tasks tab(1), select the Open Tasks subtab(2) and then select the edit sign(3) to add a new task.

    Processes & Tasks - Manage Team Member Task

    Processes & Tasks – Manage Team Member Task

  4. After selecting one of the three above methods to manage a task, you’ll find you can edit all the same sections created during the start of the task. For example, imagine editing a standalone task for a client who has emailed to reschedule a call. Noting you’ll be in another client meeting this day, you need to need to both reschedule the call and assign to another team member.
  5. One helpful hint for managing tasks is that from any list of tasks, you can double-select a specific field to edit inline, rather than opening the task’s popup window. This is useful for making simple edits to multiple tasks all in one swoop. An example for editing our task management scenario (#2 in this section) is displayed in the image below. Here, we change the meeting to the following week(1) and assign to another lead adviser(2). Don’t forget to click save(3) after making your inline changes!

    Processes & Tasks - Manage Process Tasks Inline

    Processes & Tasks – Manage Process Tasks Inline

Congratulations, by understanding how to start and manage your tasks, you and your practice are well on the way to a streamlined client services operation!

How To: Create Processes & Steps

Overview

In designing PractiFI, we heard loud and clear that whether it’s in advice, investments, insurance, accounting or lending, driving practice efficiency is a top priority. And everyone knows that standardising routine operations in your practice leads to higher quality output, makes training easier and drives up the value of your business. But you also told us that you’d been burnt by overly complex workflow systems in the past, so it had to be simple.

Meet PractiFI’s Processes. A cinch to create and adjust, powerful to work with every day.

To better understand the importance of processes and tasks in PractiFI, check out Concept Dive: Processes & Tasks.

Here, we explain how to start a new process and manage it through to completion. Simple though it is, this is a job for your PractiFI system administrator or power user. Is that you? Great! View on.

 

 

Next step? Now that you’ve created some processes and steps ready for use, learn how to start and manage those processes through to completion with How To: Start and Manage a Process.

How To: Start and Manage a Process

Overview

PractiFI’s processes and tasks help you manage the everyday operations of your practice. They allow you to delegate, manage and track your team’s work with control and efficiency. To better understand the importance of tasks and processes in PractiFI, check out our concept dive. Here, we explain how to start a new process and manage it through to completion. Ready?

How do I start a new process in PractiFI?

Processes can be started in two ways: via the Launcher in Client View (for processes unrelated to a particular service, such as “Call client tomorrow”) and via the Services tab (for service-related processes).

  1. To start a process from the Launcher, select the menu icon next to the rocket in the top nav bar and select Start a Process.

    LauncherProcess

    Client View – Starting Process From the Launcher

  2. Alternatively, you can start a process from the View/Edit Service tab.  First, select a service and then select Save & Start Process.

    Starting a process from the View/Edit Service popup

    View/Edit Service Tab – Starting Process From Service

  3. Next, PractiFI will guide you through a simple 2-step wizard to begin building your shiny new process.
  4. At Step 1 of 2, fill out the following details:
    • Service and Process Type: Choose a service (this is pre-formatted if creating from a service), and then pick the corresponding process type. This organizes your process and determines which tasks are created automatically at step 2. These menu choices and resulting tasks are pre-defined by your system administrator.
    • Process Name: Write out a name for your new process. To keep your process lists orderly, we recommend your practice adopts a naming convention for this field. For example, use a process name convention which abbreviates client name, service name and process type. e.g. “Feldman-Full Advice-Initial Engage”.
    • Description: If necessary, you can add notes about the process in this large text area.
    • Owner: Specify the team member responsible for the successful completion of the process. Often, this is the practice manager or client service manager.
    • Due Date: If applicable, choose the date the entire process and all corresponding tasks should be finished.
    • Stage: Choose whether this process is Not Started, In Progress or Completed.

      New Process Wizard - Step 1 of 2: Process Details

      New Process Wizard – Step 1 of 2: Process Details

  5. When finished entering details, select Next in the top right to continue. PractiFI’s wizard will run its magic, interrogating the standard steps that your practice has configured for this type of process and creating a task for each one.
  6. In Step 2 of 2, you can adjust the tasks, add new tasks or delete unnecessary tasks. Even a complicated situations can be handled quite beautifully. For example, our lead client services associate Liz is on vacation until 19 Sep. The Feldman family requires advice in a hurry, so we’ve tasked our intern Claire with her duties until Liz returns. For the task “Request client information”, we added the text “ASAP”, updated the priority to “High” and added an extra 30 minutes estimated time. We then bumped the “Produce draft SOA” task an extra day to make sure Liz has time to review.
  7. When finished editing the tasks, select Save & Finish to generate your new process and associated tasks. Pretty simple!

    New Process Wizard - Step 2 of 2: Create Tasks

    New Process Wizard – Step 2 of 2: Create Tasks

  8. When finished, your process will appear in the client’s process list. Congratulations on your new process!

    Client Processes & Tasks Tab - Processes List with New Process

    Client Processes & Tasks Tab – Processes List with New Process

  9. If you created your process from a service (as outlined in #2 of this section), the two will become linked by the Service field. Your new process will still be displayed in the Processes list for the client, but it will also show up in the service where you created the process. For more information on services, check out our How To: Create a Service tutorial.

    View/Edit Service Tab - New Process Displayed Within Service

    View/Edit Service Tab – New Process Displayed Within Service

Voila! Your process has been launched, and your tasks within the process have been allocated to their respective team members.

How do I manage my process through to completion?

OK, so you’ve started your new process for your client. Now, let’s manage that process and its tasks through to completion.

  1. To view and manage an existing process, select the Processes & Tasks tab. Then, select the edit icon to launch the process popup.

    Client Processes & Tasks Tab - View and Manage an Existing Process

    Client Processes & Tasks Tab – View and Manage an Existing Process

  2. Each process contains four tabs: Process Detail, Tasks, History and Feed.

    Client Processes & Tasks Tab - Process Detail, Tasks, History and Feed

    View/Edit Process – Process Detail, Tasks, History and Feed

  3. The Process Detail tab allows you to modify details pertaining to the process itself. These are the big picture items which describe the purpose, responsibility and timeline for the process.

    Edit Client Process - Managing Detail Fields

    View/Edit Client Process – Managing Detail Fields

  4. The Tasks tab allows you to modify tasks created by the process. This allows you to conveniently create, edit and track new tasks related to this process on one screen. To view a detailed popup for any task in this list, select the pencil edit icon. For more information on managing individual tasks, be sure to check out our How To: Start and Manage Tasks tutorial!

    View/Edit Client Process - Managing Tasks

    View/Edit Client Process – Managing Tasks

  5. The Feed tab allows users to add file notes, comment on other file notes and upload files directly to the process. For more information about the PractiFI Feed, read our feeds tutorial (coming soon!)

    View/Edit Client Process - Managing Feed Info

    View/Edit Client Process – Managing Feed Info

  6. Of course, when you’re finished editing fields in any of the tabs in the popup, select Save to save your changes (unsurprisingly).  You can now monitor your team members’ in real-time, and make adjustments on the fly as necessary.
  7. When all your tasks are complete, head back to the Process Detail tab, and mark your process stage as complete.  Great work!

Concept Dive: Processes & Tasks

As you may have seen in our key concepts slide deck, PractiFI’s processes and tasks help you manage the everyday operations of your practice.  They allow you to delegate, manage and track your team’s work with control and efficiency. In this concept dive, we examine how to use processes and tasks to drive productivity, improve consistency and get great management reporting.

What are processes and tasks?

In PractiFI, a process defines a routine undertaking for a client, such as gathering the key client information, conducting needs analysis, preparing an advice document, applying for a life policy or implementing an investment portfolio. Each process comprises a pre-defined set of tasks.

A task is a single work item for one team member to complete, such as contacting a client to schedule a meeting, lodging a mortgage application with a lender, completing a file note or updating a stage in PractiFI. A task may form part of a process, but you can also create tasks to stand firmly on their own.

What a simple example of a process with tasks?

“On-boarding a new client” is a common example of a process. Within this process:

  1. the receptionist might mail the client a welcome gift;
  2. an admin assistant might gather important client signatures;
  3. that same assistant will send the client standard compliance documents, such as your financial services guide; and
  4. the finance team will add the new client record to the billing system.

These four actions would be defined as the tasks within the “On-boarding a new client” process.

What are the benefits of using processes and tasks?
  • Standardisation: Predefining processes for your team to use over and over standardises the approach to common work in your practice. The same task comes with the same instructions every time, which drives consistency of output.
  • Easy delegation: Each task in a process is defined against a particular team or team member. Every time that process is launched, its tasks are automatically allocated as defined.
  • Faster training: Onboarding new staff becomes faster because the details of how to complete routine tasks is embedded in the descriptions of the tasks themselves.
  • Less key person dependency: Using processes and tasks for routine operations takes the knowledge of your day-to-day business out of the heads of your key staff and into the business-as-usual of your whole team. Plus, your star operators are freed up to manage the more complex aspects of the practice.
  • More context and purpose: Everyone in the practice can see the bigger picture purpose of the work that they’re doing. If a team member is assigned task 3 of 6 in a process, they can easily see that context from the Client View page. If they’re running late on their work, they can see the downstream impact that that is likely to have on completing the process, fulfilling the service and impressing the client.
  • Drive efficiency: With a little up-front configuration, you can set estimated efforts against common tasks and set an hourly cost rate to each team member. Then, as the team works through the processes and tasks assigned to them, you can easily track whether the time taken is in line with estimates and identify any bottlenecks. Plus, you can quickly see where costs are being incurred across the practice and assess any blowouts.
  • Drive profitability: Your practice revenue is tracked through services (as we covered in our services concept dive). Processes and tasks roll up to services, which means that their costs can be measured against the service revenue. This provides great visibility into profitability across the practice: by client, by service type or by team member.
  • Build the value of the business: Clear, repeatable processes makes for a practice that’s consistent in its work, less dependent on key staff and is demonstrably efficient and profitable.
How do processes relate to services?

If you’ve read our concept dive on services, you’ll understand that services allow you to track your service offering and revenue earned across the different divisions of your practice. Processes and tasks are typically completed as part of fulfilling a service. This means that the costs incurred by the practice through the team’s efforts on tasks can be tracked against the revenue earned from the service to the client. So the key take-out is that relating processes to services allows you track profitability.

Relating processes to services also provides extra control around how services are fulfilled. Since PractiFI’s Semillon Release 2, you can now create process-to-service dependencies. That’s a fancy way of saying that you can determine which processes are available to be launched for each type of service being delivered. For example:

  • a service type of Personal Financial Advice may have processes such as Engage Client, Assess Needs, Devise Strategy, Prepare Advice Documents and Present to Client. So those five processes would be configured to have a dependency on the Personal Financial Advice service type.
  • a service type of Life Insurance Application may have various processes associated with it, including Complete Policy Underwriting. Complete Policy Underwriting would therefore be configured to have a dependency on Life Insurance Application, but not on Personal Financial Advice.
How do I get started with processes and tasks for my practice?

Some practices start on PractiFI with a very clear idea of just what processes and tasks they want to configure for their team to use. Others are completely new to thinking in processes and need a little hand-holding. Either way, we’re here to help.

If you’re unsure, here’s an easy way to start:

  • define a few basic processes covering the most routine work areas of the business.
  • define a small number of tasks per process. (Don’t overcomplicate it early. You can always make the process more granular later by splitting tasks up if need be.)
  • ensure that each task has a clear, detailed description.
  • encourage your team to add detailed file notes to the task as they complete it.
  • don’t worry about estimating effort and tracking costs incurred until you’ve mastered the basics. One step at a time, eh?

On the fly, a manager can add or remove individual tasks to the on-boarding process as necessary.

What are the quick facts about processes in PractiFI?
  • Processes allow your team to quickly delegate multiple tasks related to a common goal and allow everyone to view the big picture easily.
  • Processes can be created in two ways: via the Launcher in Client View and via the View/Edit Service popup (also in Client View). Check out our How To: Create a Process tutorial (coming very soon indeed) for way more info.
  • Processes are pre-configured by your system administrator, as outlined in our configuration tutorial (coming soon!).
  • The process owner is the team member who takes responsibility for the successful completion of the process.
  • The View/Edit Process popup contains three tabs:
    • Process Detail: for the basic fields captured for the task, such as process name, the type of process, the due date and the owner.
    • Tasks: for the list of tasks to be completed in the process.
    • Feed: the file notes and associated documents for the process and for all of its related tasks.
  • Processes are not mandatory in PractiFI, but are well worth considering for all the benefits they bring.
What are the quick facts about tasks in PractiFI?
  • Tasks allows your practice to assign, track and manage individual work items from start to finish.
  • Tasks are the backbone of day-to-day operations and provide insight into improving practice productivity.
  • They can be created from the Processes & Tasks tab for a client.
  • A task does not have to be part of a process, but grouping tasks together in a process is a match made in heaven.