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School Outfitters: Building a more productive IT team

School Outfitters: Building a more productive IT team
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Since 1998, School Outfitters has specialized in providing affordable school furniture and classroom equipment. In just over a decade, the company has become a leading online retailer, helping educators of all kinds create excellent learning environments for their pupils and staffs. Today, School Outfitters continues investing in its IT resources so that the company can continue providing customers and prospects with convenient online shopping and expert support.



A challenging competitive environment made it important for School Outfitters to set strategic objectives to continuously improve team productivity. The company wanted a software solution that would help improve project management, task management and team collaboration. From a variety of possible solutions, VIP Task Manager was chosen for evaluation.

"We were looking for a solution that would allow management and team members to track the status, percent complete and finish dates to provide a big-picture view of where we are, and where we need to be," - Jeff Gentile, Systems Administrator

To be considered effective, the software solution needed to help School Outfitters achieve the following goals:

  • Track, manage, assign and prioritize projects and tasks (including recurring tasks) for the IT team.
  • Track tasks and projects to have an idea of the current work of team members and of which tasks are still open.
  • Organize tasks and project history (comments, notes, etc) in a central location.

Besides the flexibility to have custom data fields and workflows, the solution had to include the following functionality:

  • The ability to email reminders and notifications.
  • The ability to organize large projects with milestones and to record support requests.
  • The ability to provide the team with "big-picture" views.
  • Reporting ability that would allow management to view the overall status.

Why School Outfitters chose VIP Task Manager
During the free evaluation period of VIP Task Manager, the company tested the software functionality to make sure it completely met the main requirements and contributed to the achievement of the established goals. Here are several main reasons why School Outfitters eventually chose the VIP Task Manager software:

  • The product offers the company a low-cost solution to manage tasks and projects.
  • With a Microsoft Outlook similarity, the software is easy to use and navigate, reducing training time.
  • Licensing is user-based, so the company can grow into the product as more users come on board.


Having tested the features of VIP Task Manager, School Outfitters discovered that the software's functionality could help it meet its objective of developing a more productive team. Here are some examples of how VIP Task Manager's features and options help School Outfitters manage its IT team:

Priority is important

  • School Outfitters: "Task priority field will be used to communicate the importance of a task or project to the team members. Also, as the priority of a project changes, the team's focus will be adjusted to meet the overall goals."
The School Outfitters IT team is engaged in various tasks and projects daily. These tasks and projects are not of equal importance, so the IT team needs to be able to see at a glance which projects or tasks are of higher priority and adjust their focus to meet the overall goals. VIP Task Manager easily allows setting or changing task priority, and informs team members of project changes in a timely fashion.
Keeping status and progress on track
To plan their time and provide the best IT support, the team needs to keep tasks and projects on track. VIP Task Manager has the status column and the progress bar in task lists to provide the team and management with a complete view of projects and tasks.

Delegation = Optimization

  • School Outfitters: "Projects are planned by management, and tasks are planned by the team members."

School Outfitters' management understands the role of delegation in company workflow. Usually, management plans the broader project while tasks are planned by team members. This allows company to save time and optimize its resources. VIP Task Manager features a permissions panel which can be used to grant team members permission to create tasks in projects created by management.

No chance for procrastination

  • School Outfitters: "The task reminder option improves communication and assists with managing and completing projects on time."

School Outfitters' management expects timely completion of tasks and projects by the IT team. VIP Task Manager improves communication and helps complete tasks on time by sending email reminders and notifications. The IT team members can be informed about changes in task status and reminded about upcoming events.

Specified and documented tasks

  • School Outfitters: "Attachments, notes, comments and history provide the team with a central location for every detail of task/project. There is no need to search emails or other documents for details of why, what, or when. Notes will also be kept of the actions and steps taken to correct an issue."
The ability to link documents with tasks, specify task notes and add comments to tasks makes IT team work convenient and collaborative. For this purpose, a central location of project data becomes vital. VIP Task Manager creates a centralized database for storing project data. The program allows adding notes and comments, tracking history of task changes and attaching files to tasks. The IT team members can improve their productivity as they can quickly find a document, an email letter or a file associated with a task, and the team management can leave instructions and recommendations on how to proceed.

Customized workflows

  • School Outfitters: "Added three custom workflows to expand the 'In Progress' status of projects that reflect true 'In Progress' status if a project is not progressing as it should".  The custom workflows are'Stuck, 'On Hold,' and 'Researching.'"

School Outfitters IT team has several specific workflows that characterize their teamwork. The ability to customize the workflow types lets the company differentiate various types of projects.VIP Task Manager offers the IT team the workflow editor to create and manage custom workflow types. Every project can be specified with a set of task statuses to create an optimized workflow.


Due to the implementation of the VIP Task Manager software, School Outfitters now applies new strategies to building a more productive IT team. VIP Task Manager allows planning, tracking and reporting tasks within projects. The impact of real-time collaboration has created a background for team improvement. Now the IT team can focus on the primary projects and prioritized tasks to maintain School Outfitters as an excellent online source for school furniture and classroom equipment.

"While evaluating VIP Task Manager, we expected a solution that worked out of the box, with the flexibility to add custom data fields and workflows and grow with our needs. The program gave us what we expected. Now VIP Task Manager helps provide the team with the big picture view of IT progress," - Jeff Gentile, Systems Administrator

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