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.