IAF Methods

Task Definition Workshop

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An annual review of work for the business support unit.

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This workshop clarifies all the tasks of an administrative unit, determines who is responsible, if there is a task description and how long the work takes on a monthly basis


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  • white boards
  • markers
  • 2 projectors
  • flipcharts



Types of participants: all of the staff in the unit, the manager and perhaps a review by the business unit manager.

Time needed: 2 days

Ideal conditions: We found that a projector with the spread sheet on it plus another project showing the scripts and other online material helpful. We used the second projector for presentations.

Pre-Work Required: We found it helpful to have a preliminary list of activities / tasks all ready in the spread sheet.



1. Introductions.

2. Context from the Business Unit Manager.

3. Context from the Administrative Team Leader.

4. Explanation of the workshop process.


1. Team building exercise.

2. Walk through the form.

3. Brainstorm additional jobs.

4. Organize the tasks into similar kinds of tasks (financial, health and safety, travel arrangements, etc.)

5. Walk through each job and ask

- How frequently is it done?

- What are the due dates?

- Where is it done (if more than one location).

- Who is responsible for seeing to it that it is done? (See notes)
- Who is the backup person?

- Is the script up to date?

- If not who is responsible for updating it?

- How many hours per month does this task take?

6. Review other sources for additional activities such as corporate directives, add these to the list and fill out the form for them..


1. Ask for a volunteer to make up the calendar.

2. Review any assignments for further work on the form that came out of the workshop.

3. Thank the group for their input.

4. Close the workshop.


1. (It is a good idea to suggest anytime someone thinks of a job that they mention it and it is added to the list.)

2. If there are more than one location there may be a person responsible for the work in each location or there may be a single person responsible.

3. We have found it helpful to name a specific person(s) as responsible for each task especially when there is a tendency to say "we are all responsible" or "We do it together."

4. This can be a pretty tedious workshop so it is important to use a variety of alternative activities such as energizers (we found factoids fun) and outside activities. We also had toys on the table for people to play with.


Follow-Up Required: None unless the facilitator makes the calendar.

Usual or Expected Outcomes: a calendar of the work of the unit with assigned roles and their back up (see downloadable form)

Potential pitfalls: avoid assignments, reluctant to share work.

How success is evaluated: a calendar of all the work of the unit is created.

Examples of successes and failures: This workshop was done with a business unit of a big international company with a single business support unit located in two locations.


Source: Jon Jenkins

Alternative names: Business Support Unit work plan,
Work plan

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