Your challenges in the field of task management

Is the burden of lots of different tasks gradually getting on top of your customer services team? Do you lack a central component for the cross-system management of all tasks? In this case, you do not have an integral overview of the current state of your tasks, and you cannot control and monitor them effectively. We often come across this problem in our customer projects: Particularly in sectors such as insurance or in the case of companies with large customer service departments, the help of central Enterprise Task Management is required.

Problem: No cross-system task management. Source: Own representation

The problem is illustrated in the figure: There is no standard software enabling the cross-system management of tasks and the control and monitoring of their performance. The tasks are generated by a large number of systems and each has its own task management solution. Employees have to switch between systems and may not see urgent tasks because they’re in a system other than the one in which they are currently working. There’s no central control component for employees and managers.

The major challenges for our customers in such situation are as follows:

  • Tasks with varying priorities are generally located in different systems.
  • Employees have to switch constantly between systems with different user interfaces, which reduces efficiency.
  • Urgent tasks may be overlooked because they’re located in a system in which nobody is currently working.
  • There’s no transparency about the entire set of tasks to be performed. This means that it’s difficult to monitor the processing of tasks in line with specifications such as defined service levels.

Make task management at your company more efficient and effective! Want to know how we can help? It’s simple: We’ll make sure that the ideal solutions for you fit seamlessly into your IT landscape. With our open source solution TASKANA, you’re in the ideal starting position for modernizing your inbox solution (which is what task management solutions are commonly called) at a reasonable cost. This is not an empty promise, since it reflects our many years of experience from a wide range of projects.

We’re also happy to help with the design and implementation phases in order to bring your new Enterprise Task Management solution to life quickly and reliably.

The advantages of using Enterprise Task Management

What is Enterprise Task Management?

With Enterprise Task Management, you bundle all of your tasks together in one system and prioritize this set of tasks on a cross-system basis.

Solution: Central prioritization and control of all tasks in the company. Source: Own representation

Enterprise Task Management tells you about the current state of play and allows tasks to be delivered to available employees with the correct skill profile via their inbox. This inbox is a kind of digital worklist for each employee. The task management system also helps employees to keep to deadlines for their tasks and reminds them of deadlines that are approaching.

Task management solutions offer various functions that managers can use to control the workload of their employees clearly, quickly, and easily.

In short: Tasks created from different systems are bundled together, controlled, and managed in a central location in Enterprise Task Management.

The advantages of an Enterprise Task Management solution are clear:

  • Each employee logs onto a single system to see all of the tasks that they need to complete. There’s no need to log onto a range of systems with different interfaces etc. In addition, ideally the system guides the user directly to the correct screens, making work even more efficient.
  • All tasks and employees meet in a single system. This enables the optimum distribution of tasks in accordance with lots of different criteria: Skill, availability, priority, service level, customer value etc. This optimum distribution can also be constantly adapted in line with current circumstances – even in real time.
  • If required, the system can ensure that the most important tasks (in accordance with priority or customer value) are always processed first. Push and pull mechanisms support the distribution of tasks and can even be used in combination.
  • The central task list allows you to check whether all tasks have been completed by the specified deadline and by the assigned employees. This ensures that no tasks are overlooked. In addition, it allows a check by the audit department.
  • Process structures can be defined flexibly. Task distribution options allow different areas to provide each other with temporary or permanent support.

Challenges in current implementations of Enterprise Task Management solutions

Today, an inbox solution is used in many companies. Often, such solutions have evolved over years, offering a host of special functions. An examination of our customers and the projects that we’ve carried out in this area gives rise to two frequently encountered variants:

  1. The company implemented the inbox solution itself.
    The advantage is this: The solution is well integrated into the various technical systems and has been functionally adjusted to the requirements of employees. Often, these solutions have matured over years and are thus based on aging technology. Implementing new functions can be costly, and it is not uncommon for this to require a full redevelopment of the system.
  2. The inbox solution is based on a standard product, often a BPM system.
    This is frequently because the company does not wish to have to develop everything itself. Unfortunately, while standard software provides most required functions, it frequently does not offer all of them. The lacking functions are added through custom developments, and this is where standard systems and custom software merge. The disadvantage: The software feels like a custom system but, as a result, further developments of the standard product can often not be automatically used. In addition, some components such as user interfaces delivered for the inbox component are not used but are still subject to licensing and payment. If the standard product needs to be replaced, the independently developed inbox system is affected, too.

Our conclusion based on the projects: Once new requirements need to be implemented, both variants reach their limits.

On the basis of many years of experience and in collaboration with Generali Deutschland, we have conceived a third variant in the form of TASKANA: Implementation based on an open source component.

Why open source? The field of open source solutions is growing constantly. Even in relatively conservative companies – like in the insurance industry as in our example – modern open source products are increasingly being used. Until now, there has been no open source solution for the task management field, and dedicated standard software is hard to find. TASKANA fills this gap!

TASKANA – the leading open source solution for companies

In the form of a slim Java library, TASKANA offers all required basic functions for the implementation of a modern task control solution. TASKANA can be configured in line with your requirements in many different ways. However, if this is not sufficient, TASKANA can be modified and enhanced through various changes both functionally (e.g. the implementation of your own set of distribution rules) and technically (e.g. a connection to your identity management system). Because we know that the little differences between specialist areas are actually really important. In this regard, we’re keen to talk about tailored task management.

TASKANA is optimized to be able to realize custom task control as quickly and easily as possible. This means that you get a task management solution that’s been tailored to your needs and that fits in optimally with your existing processes.

Becoming a TASKANA partner and using this open source solution has a host of advantages:

  • Tailored task management – get the feel of a custom development through a solution that is, in fact, 70-80% standard
  • A cost-effective solution (no license costs). The maintenance costs are shared by all participating partners.
  • The opportunity to influence the functional further development of the standard solution
  • Reduced project duration in comparison with a custom solution since a large part of the software is delivered ready to use
  • Technically, TASKANA is a separate Java application. This means that the integration, testing, and deployment can be performed using your established software development processes.
  • A modular structure – you use only the parts of TASKANA that are useful to you.

TASKANA in detail

TASKANA’s function areas

The open source TASKANA inbox solution has four areas:

Functional areas of TASKANA. Source: Own representation

  1. Inbox/task list
    Naturally, the central feature of TASKANA is the management of tasks, and this is done via inboxes, which are also called task lists. A distinction is made between personal, team, and topic inboxes. The configurable inboxes allow the process structure of your company to be depicted in a flexible manner. Authorizations ensure that employees see only the subset of tasks relevant for them and for which they have permissions.
  2. Routing/distribution
    TASKANA offers various routing and distribution functions to enable the assignment of incoming tasks to the correct inboxes or to redistribute tasks from one inbox to another.
  3. Prioritization
    TASKANA’s dynamic prioritization functions allow the processing sequence of tasks to be controlled at all times. This ensures that the most important tasks are tackled first.
  4. Monitoring
    To allow you to keep tabs on a large worklist, TASKANA offers various different views that enable real-time monitoring. From these views, tasks can be redistributed and assigned if needed.

The technology behind TASKANA

Are you wondering how TASKANA is built from a technical point of view? Its core is a slim Java library with a connection to a relational database. During development, we strove to create as few dependencies on other libraries as possible. This means that TASKANA can be used in practically all Java environments such as Spring and JEE. Thus, as well a providing an independent task management component, the open source inbox solution enables the integration of the task management functions into larger specialist applications.

The TASKANA architecture.Source: Own representation

The open source product has the following three components:

  1. A central Java API with a persistent data store (TASKANA core) plus an optional REST API.
  2. Three user interfaces (for administrators, users, and managers) that communicate with the core via the REST interface (TASKANA web).
  3. An adapter for the connection of third-party systems (TASKANA adapter). This offers a flexible connector concept and provides a ready-to-use implementation for Camunda BPM.

The TASKANA collaboration model

TASKANA is open source software, so is freely accessible and usable. Nevertheless, the large Generali and Debeka insurance companies support the project to ensure that their own critical TASKANA-based applications will continue to work reliably in the future. Novatec acts as the coordinator in this collaboration.

The cooperation model at TASKANA. Source: Own representation

Both companies – and all future partners of the project – maintain their own requirements backlog. Subsequently, Novatec moderates the process for the creation of a joint backlog, using its technical expertise to provide support and ensure that all requirements can be realized and are compatible with each other.

The implementation of the requirements in the backlog then takes place through an agile working method and is realized either by Novatec or by the participating companies themselves. Novatec always comes back into play at the quality assurance stage and when the individual functions are integrated. In a final step, the new functions are released by Novatec and made available for download at Maven Central.

Our services in the field of Enterprise Task Management and TASKANA

Novatec offers customers various services relating to TASKANA. This means that we are able to provide customers with the type and intensity of support that they require.

  • Maintenance
    As mentioned in the section on the collaboration model, we provide the maintenance for the TASKANA project. This includes access to our service technicians, who analyze and solve reported incidents promptly. When required, we also make corrected versions of TASKANA available. In order to do so successfully, as part of this agreement we also maintain a test environment that is as close as possible to the environment of the customer. We avoid security problems through regularly updating TASKANA.
  • Functional enhancements
    TASKANA grows in line with the requirements of its users. If there’s a function that you need but that does not yet exist, we’ll be happy to enhance TASKANA for you. Naturally, we’ll use our knowledge about TASKANA concepts and will make sure that we provide a sustainable solution that we will also subsequently maintain.
  • Consulting
    We’re happy to advise you on all issues relating to TASKANA such as the following: What’s the best way for me to configure my inbox structure and distribution rules? How do I integrate TASKANA into my IT infrastructure? How do I synchronize my tasks with the different source systems? We’re happy to let you share in our project experience and derived good practices.
  • Integration and implementation
    As a rule, TASKANA is not operated as standalone software, and requires integration into diverse systems. In addition, a dedicated user interface is often built and is then seamlessly integrated into the existing systems of our customers. We’re happy to help you with such activities, since custom software development is our passion!

Are you curious about the extent to which the open source tool TASKANA can be used in your company and about the task management advantages that the inbox solution has for you? Then ask us about a personal web session, which we’ll be happy to provide free of charge. Simply send us an e-mail to taskana@novatec-gmbh.de or call our experts directly!

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