In order to promote self-organization and transparency, there are now numerous software tools, which are already frequently used. Especially in virtual teams, communication and collaboration via software is an essential success factor. Especially in complex environments with moody customers, self-organization is probably the most important success factor and also specialists demand more and more participation in decisions in the company.

Recently (2019), Xing surveyed more than 17,000 of its members on salary, and a primary finding is that one in ten XING users would change jobs for a more meaningful job with higher self-organization. According to the study, Generation Y in particular attaches importance to meaning in the job than to the “pure paycheck at the end of the month”.

Executives are responsible for ensuring the delivery and motivation of distributed teams. How to ensure motivation I have presented in another article. Today I want to talk about what the right use of tools has done with an organization or team, which I led in 2018-2019.

Reading tip: Control in the home office

Boards in Jira and Queues in Ticket Systems

Boards and ticketing systems are a first way to manage, distribute and visualize tasks. The big advantage is the time savings through meetings and progress reports, which we have now been able to eliminate. The tool serves as an information node. So it distributes the knowledge of who is doing what at what time.

Figure of a Kanban Board to handle tasks in an agile context

It’s a little more structured in the classical context. There, a picture can be made even finer with the help of a ticket system. You will notice that each new task is assigned to a system user first. My job was then to specify the ticket and check the content. In the ticket system you can also see exactly who is working on what and how old each ticket is.

Illustration of a ticketing system to handle tasks in a classic context

Whether you are taking boards or ticketing systems. It is the same only optimized in other representations or on agile/classical methods. It is important to discuss the tool in both presentations through regular meetings with the team.

The meeting in front of the board or the queue

The most important thing is the weekly or daily meeting to organize and sort the tool together. As a team, we met via screen sharing and went through item by item (task, task, ticket in the tool).

Important: A tool “wastes” quickly. Every item must be maintained and all relevant fields filled in. Otherwise you will quickly have 1000 items and no one will find their way around. The task of a manager is to keep queues small (max. 30 items) and clean (fields filled in) or to plan the sprint backlogs in scrum.

We have clarified the importance and content of each item. We then roughly distributed the items. During that time, my task was to specify new items in the queue and fill in relevant fields such as status, keywords and check content.

Important: The center of attention and task distribution is no longer you as a team leader but the software tool that you present to the team and regularly check and maintain it.

Conclusion: From manager to software user

Using technology for team control creates more transparency and flat hierarchies. As a team leader, the first step is to degrade: you become the manager/user of a tool. I believe that this is why many team leaders oppose this, as leadership is often seen as a prestigious and special function.

Using the software is hard work and I had a lot of effort. As advantages, I had a significantly higher efficiency as well as such a high level of transparency that I could communicate a status and clear status to the management at any time. I have never regretted taking my job as a team leader very seriously and using new methods to get rid of myself through a tool.

In the meantime, I have a departmental management and have also supported my middle management level with such tools and organized a very flat and transparent division of tasks between 4 teams.

My conclusion after 3 years is that this even increases the influence of a manger, because only one can manage the board, i.e. the central information node, and also define rights (who is allowed to set a task to finish) and processes (which phases go through) tasks. Also, you always have a status for management and seem sovereign. Especially when blocking, you can react quickly and safely. After 3 years I can say: it feels weird at first but actually only brings advantages.

Image source:

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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