I’m really excited (ok, and kind of terrified) to announce TaskBook, an app to help businesses manage their employees’ responsibilities. It’s a checklist app that helps automate recurring task assignments so employees know what to do when they come into work.
I’ve probably said, “I’m building an app…” a thousand times this year, and I’m glad I can finally share what I’ve built.
Why a checklist app?
A couple of years ago, I started working on ShareAppeal, which is a social networking app to help us share links and build reading lists for each other and ourselves. That was a really fun project, and I still use it regularly. I worked on ShareAppeal for about a year, and then took a step back to reflect on what I made and consider where to take it next.
I decided to build something new. This time, I would make something small but really useful – something that could be helpful every day.
“What if I made an app to replace the binder?”
Some friends of mine own a bakery, and one day we were talking about the dreaded three-ring binder of checklists. I’ve since learned that this is a universal device that’s used everywhere from hair salons to restaurants to banks. Virtually every time I talk to a brick-and-mortar business owner, they know exactly what I mean when I say “the checklists” or “the binder”. (If you’re not in that world, just picture a pile of laminated paper checklists and a dry-erase marker.)
I could tell the binder was something the bakery used, but that they hated it; it was used, but not useful. It was hard to maintain, didn’t give any kind of history, and employees eventually just stopped using it because they thought they had everything memorized.
I asked my friends, “What if I made an app to replace the binder?”, and they immediately perked up and wanted to know more about what I had in mind. Over the next few months, I worked closely with my friends and their employees at the bakery to build the first prototype of the app.
I was shooting for “small”, but ended up creating something pretty big
TaskBook has come a long way since then, but the basic idea is still exactly the same as that first prototype: managers create checklists and assign them to appropriate days (“Opening tasks” is assigned pretty much every day, but since Monday is a new work week, Monday might have “Monday’s opening tasks” instead). When employees come in for a shift, they sign into TaskBook and the day’s checklists are right there, waiting for them to complete. They find the first incomplete task and start working on it. They tap the task’s checkbox to indicate it’s done, and TaskBook marks the task as complete, stamping it with the time and employee’s name. From the employee’s perspective, that’s all there is to it.
The cool part about replacing the binder with a web application is that apps record data and can be accessed from any device with an internet connection and a web browser. Changing lists becomes trivial – just a few clicks to update the list, and the new version is right there in TaskBook next time an employee signed in. Onboarding and training that used to take weeks now takes hours – at the end of a new hire’s first shift, the manager knows they’ve covered everything.
With my friends’ help, I made something much bigger than “an app to replace the binder”. It’s a simple app, but it’s not small at all – it’s had a big impact the way they run their business.
So that’s what I was talking about when I said, “I’m building an app…”
Ok, now what?
This is where things get a little scary. I’ve spent about nine months building TaskBook, and now it’s out in the wild. Businesses can sign up for a free 30-day trial and try it out to see if it helps their business like it helped my friends at the bakery. The interesting thing is, thanks to all the time I’ve spent at the bakery, I know it will help small businesses. My next challenge is to communicate how useful TaskBook can be for customers.
I spent the past few years learning to build useful apps. Now that I’ve attained my first goal, there’s another challenge right behind it: I have to learn how to sell and market TaskBook while continuing to improve it.
Now, when friends ask me what I’m up to, I’ll have to say something like, “I’m growing TaskBook.”
How you can learn more about TaskBook and follow its progress
Here’s how you can learn more about TaskBook, and keep tabs on its progress:
If you have questions about TaskBook, you can leave a comment, or reach out to me on Twitter: @JoshDoody.