How to Track Tasks, Reminders, and To-Dos in eTapestry
Who needs follow-up? What tasks are up next on my to-do list? Who is responsible for that task? These are common questions in the life of a development professional.
Whether you need to meet a grant application deadline or schedule a follow-up meeting with a prospective donor, having a reliable task management system can make a big difference on your productivity and time management.
So you may be wondering, how can eTapestry help me manage tasks, reminders, and to-dos?
Let’s take a look at two solutions.
1. Set up reports in eTapestry that prompt action
Your eTapestry database does not come with task management out of the box, but with some small tweaks your eTapestry database can help you to stay on top of next actions with your constituents. We call this process “prompt for the next action.”
A prompt for a next action in eTapestry isn’t a standalone system. It is generally paired with a larger tracking system for the following functions.
- Major Gifts and Moves Management – What is the next step in a major gift solicitation pipeline?
- Prospect Management – What is the next step to nurture and cultivate a prospective donor?
- Grants Management – What is the next step in the LOI, application, reporting, and compliance workflow of a grant cycle?
- Stewardship – What is the next step to build a relationship with a high value constituent?
- Sponsorships – What is the next step to close a commitment from a prospective sponsor?
Within each of these systems, you can track the “next action” and “next action due date” for the next step in your process. The data entry portion of this process is done in user-defined fields on the journal contact, but the key component of this system is a single “next action” report.
Set up an automated report that runs on a daily or weekly basis. Send the report to yourself via email using eTapestry’s scheduled report feature. The report should display all next actions in a date range, like due in the next 30, 60, or 90 days. The report then becomes a “prompt for the next action.”
- Next Action – Single line text field on the Journal Contact
- Next Action Due – Single date field with date selection on the Journal Contact
- All Journal Contacts with a Next Action Due Date of today or in the next 30, 60, or 90 days
- Add fields to the report like Account Name, Short Salutation, Email, Phone, Date, Contact Method, Contact Subject, Contact Note, Next Action, and Next Action Due
Once you have this framework in eTapestry, enter the Next Action and Next Action Due fields following an interaction with a constituent when you log a new journal contact. This might occur following an event, meeting, phone call, or email.
For example, when you come back from a coffee date with a prospective donor, enter a journal contact to record how the meeting went. In the same entry that records the meeting, add a next action and next action due date. This data is then included in your daily or weekly “next action” report.
Keep in mind that this structure will not show you which tasks you’ve completed and which tasks you haven’t. Be sure to complete each action on your report, or go into eTapestry to revise the due date of actions that you plan to defer for later. You may also consider adding a user-defined field like “Completed?” to indicate completed or tasks.
2. Use an external task management system
Task management is a personal process. We’ve found that users prefer different ways to manage tasks and it is often a challenge to change someone’s task management process. The “prompt for a next action” method described above isn’t for everyone, so use an external task management system if you aren’t sold on managing tasks in eTapestry.
In fact, an external task management system makes a great pair with your eTapestry CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) system because eTapestry can handle the record keeping while the task management system can set up to-dos, manage deadlines, send task reminders, and help you collaborate on tasks or projects with your co-workers.
- Step 1 – Log a journal contact in eTapestry for the activity you just completed.
- Step 2 – Add a task in your external task management system for the next action associated with the recent activity.
- Step 3 – Manage reminders, deadlines, and upcoming to-do lists in your external task management system.
This step-by-step process repeats itself when a task or to-do becomes the current activity, which prompts entry of that activity in eTapestry as a journal contact.
Are you looking for a new task management system? Here are a few task management systems to consider pairing with eTapestry:
1. Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Excel is a tool you probably already use. How you manage tasks in Excel depends on your preferences. Consider adding one row per task or one row per constituent. Add columns to contextualize the work to be done for each row. While Excel is a simple solution, it doesn’t offer team collaboration or task reminders.
2. Microsoft Outlook
Many eTapestry users also use Microsoft Outlook for email and calendars. Try Outlook’s task features if you already use Microsoft Outlook. This will combine your tasks, email, and calendar all in one system.
Evernote is a free (with paid plans), cross-platform application for taking notes, tracking to-dos, and setting reminders. Use tags and notebooks in Evernote to categorize and organize your workflows. Evernote is flexible and can adapt to your task management processes.
4. Google: Keep, Sheets, or Tasks
Google Keep allows you to create notes or checklists, set reminders, and collaborate on notes with team members. Google Tasks is integrated with Gmail and Google calendar—a good option if you use Google for Work. If you’re leaning toward Excel for managing tasks but want to be able to collaborate with team members, consider Google Sheets.
Wuderlist is a user-friendly and simple task management application that allows you to create to-do lists, set reminders for tasks, and collaborate on projects with others.
Trello is for visual task management. Organize tasks in kanban, board views (columns) where each task is a card. Move cards from column to column on your board to indicate its status or to categorize tasks.
Airtable is like a spreadsheet, but packs the power of a relational database. If you can’t decide between tracking tasks or constituents by row in Excel or Google Sheets, do both in Airtable. Consider a template with two tabs, one for tasks and another for constituents. Enter a task as a new row and then relate it to a constituent. This lets you see all tasks by constituent as well as all tasks across all constituents (among other variations on those two views).
Asana is a web-based project management application designed for team collaboration and productivity. Create tasks in projects, assign tasks to yourself or team members, set due dates and reminders, create subtasks, and track progress on your team’s projects. We use Asana at Sidekick Solutions. You can learn more about other tools we use here.
Integration for eTapestry and tasks
Finding ways to streamline your efforts and be more productive within the constraints of our time and capabilities is a priority. Getting the right tools and systems in place for task management is one step in balancing all that you have on your plate.
To that end, automation becomes a critical piece of your productivity puzzle. Automation sets workflows, rules, and systems that take repetitive and routine tasks off your plate so you can focus on more important, higher value tasks.
Automation looks beyond the two options described here and expands eTapestry’s capabilities with integrations and the eTapestry API. Automation reduces duplicate data entry and streamlines common tasks that clog your daily workflow.
We offer eTapestry integrations for task management systems like Asana, Google Sheets, Airtable, and Trello so that you can automate your workflows. Start a conversation with our integration specialists to learn how these systems integrate with eTapestry and how they could save you time and effort.
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