The 10 Pitfalls of Email Usage to Track Tasks

Does this happen in your company?

“To request a refund send an email to the financier.”

“To request a vacation, send an email to the personal department.”

“To approve the request forward the message to your manager.”

Have you ever imagined what it is like to run a business with all these demands met by email? Between us … how’s your mailbox?

It’s amazing how the vast majority of companies use email as a tool for task control.

Worse yet its the impact on organizational culture, productivity and management: lack of transparency, team omission, dispersion, departmental delays, low traceability, and many others.

The crowded email box is just the tip of an iceberg. In this post, I will describe the main hidden issues.

The 10 Pitfalls of Email Usage to Track Tasks

1- Outdated information

When the demands are answered by email, your client cannot check the status out:

“”Where’s my order for materials?”

“Has my reservation been made at the hotel?”

It is very frustrating when we have to pause our activities to find this information amidst dozens of message exchanges.

This consumes a lot of time, energy and money. It generates a lot of frustration and puts the team in a spiraling fall in productivity.

And you know the worst part? The lack of updated information and transparency generates even more emails! …

2- Lack of information security

It’s no news to anyone that emails are not a secure way to conduct transactions.

With emails, anyone can be the approver, the executor or the plaintiff. There are no rules and control via the database. No password. No evidence.

3- Monitoring difficulty

When all requests are kept in an employee’s box, the manager loses the ability to monitor the operation and, desperately, has the worst idea of his life:

“Put me in copy in all emails”.

4- Impossibility to assign responsibilities

When there is no effective monitoring, it is easy for team members to extricate themselves from responsibility.

It’s time to play dumb:

“I did not receive this email.”

5- No alerts and deadlines

To meet the lack of follow-up tools, many people call for calendars. However, with increasing demands, it is impossible to manage all the reminders.

Now, besides having a mountain of email, you will also have a mountain of reminders to keep

6- There are no performance indicators

Emails do not generate a database. Thus, it is impossible to measure the performance of the team or its process.

In the absence of proper tools, the first solution that comes to mind is the good old Excel worksheet. Many hours are wasted to produce a spreadsheet whose contents are doubtful.

7- Difficulty in setting priorities

It is impossible to set priorities when you do not know:

  • The status.
  • The responsible.
  • The deadline.

“ahhh …. but I can put the red flag!”.

Okay, but what’s the rule behind the red flag? Who shouts louder?

What is lacking in most teams is not time, but knowing what to do next.

8- Lack of discipline

Without control, people tend to give immediate solutions, that will impact the process in a few weeks or months.

For the manager, this is horrible because he depends solely on the talent and commitment of his team. Also, it prevents him from delegating tasks, as he no longer trusts the task will run correctly.

9- High incidence of errors

Without control, without compromise, without transparency and other problems, mistakes are inevitable, and it grows exponentially.

10- To think that it is enough to document the process

Documenting the process can even work while the manager or consultant is on the side of the team member. But just turn your back, and everything is back to the “normal” situation.

It is sad for the entrepreneur, who loses the investment; for the consultant, who cannot sell new process improvement projects in the same client; and to the employee himself, who is part of a company that does not prosper and generates opportunities.


A lot of people try to model the solution using supposed “good practices”: using email lists, not letting messages accumulate, etc.

These practices do not act in the root cause and will not bring the comprehensive solution.

What to do?

The problem can only be solved by using some information system.

Can it be an ERP? Yes, as long as it meets all workflow needs. If there is a single step that depends on an email, then we return to the initial problem.

Could it be a Kanban? Questionable. It may even help with small demands. Most tools do not have the resources to control the sequence of tasks, responsibilities, deadlines, etc. It’s replacing a problem with another problem.

The definitive solution is the one in which the process is defined and there is a guarantee that it will be fully executed. The process can be simple, with few activities, and as your management evolves it gains tasks and controls.

Start simple and practice the improvement cycle. Check out this solution too.

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