One Task, One Assignee: Why Apple’s Approach to Project Management Works

Have you ever wondered: “Who’s responsible for this task?”

When there’s no clear ownership of a task things might start falling apart.

Let’s say you have two people working on the same task at the same time. One person might think the other has already done the work, or is at least working on it and vice versa. This opens up the possibility of the actual work never getting done by either parties. That’s why having one assignee per task ensures a clear sense of responsibility.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the benefits of having a single assignee on tasks.

Benefits of Having a Single Assignee on a Task

This isn’t about reinventing the wheel, the single assignee concept has been tried and tested by Apple nonetheless.

The DRI concept (Directly Responsible Individual) is a key part of Apple’s organizational structure. It’s a pretty simple, one person is responsible for one task or project. This concept has been credited with helping Apple to deliver successful products and maintain a strong focus on quality. The model rests on individual ownership, responsibility, and ultimately, execution. The goal is to make things as transparent and as clear as possible for everyone involved.

Here’s how having a single assignee brings clarity to projects and tasks:

  • Clear responsibility and accountability: When there’s only one person assigned to a task, it’s clear who is responsible for its completion. This ensures that there’s no uncertainty about who’s expected to do the work.
  • Efficient decision-making and communication: The assigned individual can make decisions faster, based on their skills and understanding of the task. Updates are the responsibility of one person, which makes communication easier.
  • Reduced Duplicated Work: Multiple assignees might unknowingly work on the same task separately, which just duplicates the work done. Having a single assignee ensures that resources are utilized efficiently.
  • Faster Execution: With a single assignee, tasks are usually done faster because there’s no need to shift others priorities and sync schedules.

This is how Apple does it, now let’s see how you can handle this in Productive.

Multiple People, Single Assignee in Productive

Multiple people can still work on a task while having just one assignee.

In Productive you can easily break up the work, if needed. Let’s say you have a task that has a lot of elements. To deliver the task successfully you’ll need to include people from different departments whilst still maintaining a single point of ownership over the task. Here’s how you can do that.

Firstly, go to the Project Management section and select the Task icon in the right-hand corner.

Once you click the Task icon, you’ll get a dropdown where you can start creating your task. Select the project your task is a part of, give it a title and a good description – be detailed in the description so everyone who’s involved can know what’s supposed to be done and why, this makes communication easier and less confusing. Finally select the due the and assign the task to the responsible person.

The task you created can now serve as a parent task with a single assign that’s responsible for delivering the task as a whole. This person should set the priority level and keep track of task phases.

You can also create subtasks and to-dos that can then be assigned to people who should be working on them.

Here’s an overview of what subtasks and to-dos are used for and how to create them.

Subtasks are, putting it simply, tasks within a task. They’re meant to help you granulate your work. Simply click on the add subtask button, give the subtask a title, due date and assign it to the right person. You can also add descriptions to the subtask if needed. To-do lists are a great way to track single-action items, just add an assignee that should see it through.

Both subtasks and to-dos show up in the assignee’s task list, so there’s little risk of things not getting done on time. They offer a great way for multiple people to work on the same task while still knowing who’s responsible for delivering the task as a whole.

If there’s people that should be kept in the loop but don’t have any direct work on the task you can simply add them as subscribers. This allows them to follow progress, but still keeps ownership of the task with one person.

You can read more about setting up tasks in these articles.

Margarita Aranza

Marketing Assistant

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