Thought Leaders

5 Reasons Why You Should Not Use Email To Assign Tasks


You need one of your team members, let’s call him Bob, to follow up with a customer about a sales request/complaint/query, and you need it done urgently.  I bet that more often than not you send Bob a quick email?

Bad idea!

You’re fighting for attention

Yes, I know you flagged the email as high priority but does that really make a difference?

The problem is that you have just added the task you need done to a never ending barrage of emails from others: newsletters, junk mail, mails from friends and family to mention a few. Do you really want an important task to be somewhere in between all of that?

You can’t keep track of it

Once you’ve sent it it is gone. Not forever, but at least until Bob decides to reply.

You have no idea what is happening – did Bob reach out to someone else to help him, did he complete it but forgot to let you know, is he waiting for more information from someone else.  You will have no idea, unless you email him again to try and get an update.

You don’t know who’s doing what

If you’re assigning these tasks while trying to manage a team it’s impossible to know what is currently assigned to whom. And, if you can’t answer that simple question you’re not really managing the team after all, are you?

You can’t dictate the process

More often than not a task is part of a bigger process. Email does not allow you to enforce this. You have to be the workflow engine yourself. You simply can’t create a task for Bob and know that once he is done with his task, the next person in the process will automatically be assigned a task to complete their bit.

You can’t report on it

Which tasks are currently assigned to Bob. How many quotes are currently awaiting approval. How many queries do we get on average per month from customer x? You should be able to answer these questions if you’re managing a team or business.  And the reality is that you can’t.

Email originated as an electronic communication tool, and should be used for exactly that. In my opinion some of the newer communication tools such as Slack do a better job at facilitating internal communication but even then you need a way to properly manage tasks within your team.

Adam Shapiro has been in the IT industry since 2000, co-founding pilotfish digital, a software house specialising in SharePoint development. In 2014 he went on to establish Autopilot, a cloud-based workflow automation company and more recently AutoCollect  

Adam Shaprio
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