With the increasing demand for project management and team collaboration software, there has been a growing need for platforms that help organisations manage their resources more efficiently. The Almanac is aimed at addressing this need by providing a time management platform that optimises the scheduling of extra-curricular tasks that are required in running a large organisation effectively.
Large organisations require extra-curricular work for effective departmental functioning, such as preparing presentations, conducting staff reviews, and negotiating salaries. However, planning and scheduling these tasks can be challenging for senior management teams, impacting productivity.
Scheduling happens across departments with limited visibility into other teams' schedules, further complicating the process. Traditionally, rudimentary scheduling methods are used, leading to suboptimal resource usage. Sweeping schedule changes are challenging, with little communication across teams and no warning for new deadlines. The Almanac streamlines extra-curricular task scheduling, optimising time and resources. The platform enables organisations to meet their goals effectively and efficiently.
The aim for the Almanac tool is to improve the scheduling of business activities that are vital for the marketing team to run their operations as efficiently as possible. With the increasing complexity and interdependency of tasks, there is a growing need for tools that can help organisations manage their resources more efficiently.
One of the prime features of the Almanac tool is to provide visibility on all the important activities that managers and leaders have to fulfil throughout the year. It helps everyone involved to get a better understanding of the type of activities and how they fit into the wider context of the business. It further indicates the number of activities and the associated timeframes to perform them.
By seeing upfront when and for how long certain activities are scheduled, it helps everyone to improve the planning of other job-related tasks. It helps prevent unpreparedness and aids time management across all staff.
Visualising workloads and overlapping activities helps eliminate "friction" where individual roles or teams are unable to perform to their best ability. Early Indicators during the scheduling of mandatory activities greatly help to maximise productivity.
To develop the Almanac tool, the first task was to understand the structure and complexity of the activities that needed to be scheduled. We identified three levels to organise the scheduling process: Cycles, Programs and Activities.
The cycle level represents the primary lanes in a business, such as departments like Human Resources, Finance, and Marketing. The program level is a set of related activities designed to achieve a specific goal within the cycle. For instance, a marketing cycle may include programs related to advertising, promotions, and market research.
At the activity level, specific tasks are identified that need to be completed as part of a program. For example, an activity within a marketing promotion program could be to create a social media ad campaign. By organising the scheduling process using these levels, the Almanac tool provides a comprehensive approach to managing complex activities in a business.
Similar to common task management platforms, cycles, programs, and activities are scheduled throughout the year, with a specific start and end date. This structure helps to ensure that all necessary activities are identified, organised, and completed within the required timeframe.
One of Almanac’s power feature lies in its ability to capture, summarise, and visualise work intensity, which is the time or effort required to complete an extra-curricular task. This intensity is captured at the leaf level, a fourth level, which is at a individual person.
By extrapolating the intensity across all activities, programs, and cycles, the tool enables senior management to gain insight into potential friction, which occurs when too many people are working on too many activities simultaneously. This allows for better scheduling of extra-curricular tasks, as senior management can proactively identify and avoid potential time conflicts.
The Almanac tool has distinct modes for senior management and team leads. In Build mode, senior management can build schedules, assign or remove roles, and create drafts. The View mode provides access to drafts, global views, and big filters, which help management understand the scheduling process and meet business objectives.
Team leads can assign roles and intensity levels in the Build/Edit mode, and view up to 15 roles, individual schedules, and team member editing in the View mode. This helps them manage team productivity and time efficiently.
Individual team members can assign intensity levels in the Edit mode and manage their own schedules in the View mode.
By visualising the team's Almanac tasks and effort, the tool helped team leads to effectively manage their time and resources, avoiding potential frictions and maximising productivity. Additionally, it provided senior management with valuable insights into potential roadblocks, enabling them to make more informed decisions and optimise resource allocation.
The Almanac tool's overview section displays individuals' upcoming extra-curricular tasks over a short time horizon and includes a circular visualisation that inverts the total allocated time for such activities. The circular visualisation also identifies any potential areas of friction through red areas, helping individuals manage their workload effectively and avoid scheduling conflicts.