The human mind can only hold 3-4 things at once. Unsurprisingly we all need technology to manage our work. And when it comes to managing a team or cross-departmental projects, the need only amplifies.
To-do list, task management, project management, team collaboration, portfolio management, time tracking, pipeline tracking, kanban...there are just so many kinds of tools to organize your work that it sometimes feels there should be a separate tool to just figure out what your team actually needs.
Oh wait, there are plenty of websites for that - G2Crowd, Capterra, Software Advice…
I know it can get pretty overwhelming.
Once you move beyond to-do lists and feel the need for a comprehensive tool to manage your team’s work, the choice usually falls between a task management or a project management tool.
What’s a task management tool?
A task management tool tracks the lifecycle of a task from start to finish. It allows teams (or individuals) to consolidate their to-dos in one place, schedule them and ensure that they get finished on time.
Most task management tools have the following basic features
- Create, update and assign tasks.
- Set due dates
- Receive notifications about important updates
- Add comments in tasks to streamline communication
- Add tags or labels to organize tasks
- Attach files to tasks
Some task management tools offer some more features to make the entire process more seamless
- Interactive kanban boards
- Reminders for impending due dates
- Automating recurring tasks
- Subtasks or checklist items (ability to break tasks into smaller units and assign them separately)
- Email integration (updating tasks/adding comments via email)
- Scoping tasks using a point system
- Log of all activity inside a task
If you feel that the above mentioned features are enough for your team to track their work from start to finish, a task management tool will suffice.
There are many applications for a task management tool. From day to day team management, agile workflows and organizing editorial calendars to planning a vacation. Here are a few examples.
What’s a project management tool?
Simply put, every project management tool is also a task management tool. In addition to that, it offers more high-level features that are useful for complex projects that require greater collaboration.
Contrary to general opinion, project management tools are not just for professional project managers. Some of its most avid users are senior managers and C-level executives in large corporations. This is because good project management tools provide reporting and insights from multiple projects.
According to a report from Wrike, in 2015 companies lost $109 million for every $1 billion invested in projects. This declined by 20% in 2017, primarily due to higher adoption of project management tools.
So what features in project management tools differentiate them from task management tools?
- Project reports that offer real-time updates on the progress
- Interactive dashboard that filters tasks across projects
- Project timeline and Gantt charts (ability to set task dependencies)
- Visual charts like burn-up/down and progress bars
- Calendar view of your team’s tasks
- Advanced privacy settings at project and task level
Project management software are usually more complex than task management software. Traditionally, they were extremely expensive and required training before people could use them. However, with the explosive growth of cloud technologies and a focus on making business software clean and intuitive, there are plenty of online project management tools that can be adopted without any formal onboarding.
That’s why project management tools are now being used not just by huge corporations but also by mom & pop shops, universities, and startups.
The road ahead
Both task management and project management tools are evolving.
Tools that started out for simple task management are exploring project management features. While project management tools are undergoing a transformation in their own ways.
Let me share our own example with you.
Taskworld started in 2012 as a simple task management tool. It later evolved to become a project management software.
However, our mission has never been to become the best task management or project management tool. It was always to empower teams to become the best version of themselves.
This allowed us to experiment and embrace features that aren’t traditionally associated with either task or project management - such as team messaging and real-time performance evaluation.
Benefits of using an online collaboration software
So what’s an online collaboration software now?
As different kinds of tools - project/task management, team messaging, spreadsheets etc. continue to blur lines among each other, they are often grouped under an umbrella term - online collaboration software.
Regardless of your team size and industry, you can greatly benefit from an online collaboration tool:
- Accountability - When everyone is aware of what work is assigned to them and when’s the due date, it becomes hard for tasks to slip through the cracks. Reminders and email integrations ensure that people are kept in the loop of important updates even on the go.
- Consolidation - An online collaboration tool is an excellent way for businesses to consolidate their files into a knowledge base. It makes information easily accessible.
- Real-time communication - Real-time communication is the need of the hour, especially as remote work gets more widespread. Emails are limiting because you can’t edit them and are unable to see if the message was seen. Online collaboration tools provide a fun alternative in the form of real-time messaging.
- Visibility - If there’s one thing that top management likes, it’s reports rich with insights. A good online collaboration tool can analyze projects managed in it and create a plethora of insightful reports.
Since it’s the Taskworld blog, we’ll leave you with a list of to-dos :-)