Task Management: Everything You Need to Know
A guide to task management.
When your team is working on multiple projects, each with its own set of tasks divided among different team members, how do you make sure everything goes smoothly? How do you see if every task is completed on time? Is your team working on the most important tasks first? Does every employee have the relevant information needed to complete their tasks? Sure, you can rely on sticky notes, to-do lists, countless meetings, and endless email or Slack messages to keep track of everything. Or, you can use task management software to create an organized work process that ensures every task and project is completed efficiently.
In this guide, we'll be introducing you to task management and some common challenges that managers face. We'll also explain task management software, how it helps teams, and the features you should look for when choosing your task management solution.
What is Task Management?
Task management is the process of creating, prioritizing, delegating, and monitoring tasks to ensure they are completed within given deadlines. It also involves organizing the workflow and resolving bottlenecks to ensure efficient task completion. Task management is an essential component of effective project management and successful business operations.
Project managers (PMs) often use software for managing tasks to get an overview of the entire work process and the project's lifecycle. When they can see the big picture, it's easier to prioritize, schedule, and assign tasks. How is task management different from project management?
Task management can sit under project management, but they are two different roles. The first focuses on getting tasks set up and ensuring employees submit work before deadlines, whereas project management mainly focuses on reaching overall project milestones and deadlines. PMs can assign an employee multiple tasks across different projects as part of their daily or weekly workload since it's a unit of work. When these tasks are completed, it contributes to project progress.Project management also involves other aspects of projects, such as resource management, budgeting, and portfolio management.
What Are the Common Challenges in Task Management?
Task management might seem simple when you first start out, but it's a complex process with multiple variables. As such, PMs often face these challenges when it comes to task management:
- Employees need uniform and efficient work processes so that they can get their work done on time. Implementing these processes is easier said than done, especially for larger projects where tasks are spread across multiple employees and different teams.
- PMs can end up wasting a lot of time manually delegating and tracking every dependent task or subtask. A task management app with automation can speed up this process significantly.
- Collaboration is harder without task management software since every team member has to go back and forth between tools to understand even the most basic details. 50% of employees said workplace distractions, like checking multiple communication platforms, had a significant effect on their productivity.
- PMs have to manually set up a recurring task every time. Doing this on a weekly or monthly basis can bog them down with mundane work.
- It's challenging to keep track of every deadline, milestone, and goal. In a 2020 report, 54% of project managers said they did not have access to real-time project key performance indicators (KPIs).
When you lose track of important data related to project progress, it's harder for PMs to lead their teams toward successful project completion.
What is Task Management Software?
Task management software is a tool used to streamline all the processes involved in creating, delegating, and completing tasks. These tools are built to help project managers get the best out of their teams. They also help employees work faster and collaborate better.
A task management tool combines every necessary feature a PM needs to create and manage tasks. These features include:
- Creating and sharing task lists
- Assigning work to individuals
- Identifying and labeling dependent tasks
- Creating subtasks from larger deliverables
- Estimating task duration
- File sharing
- Collaboration tools
Most task managers also let you import data from third-party apps and attach them to tasks as needed. Ideally, your task manager should let you create a work process suitable for you rather than forcing your team to adapt to it. Whether you want to create a simple to-do list and assign each item to a team member or create a complex yet intuitive system to complete large projects, task management software makes the process effortless.
The Benefits of Task Management Software
If you're still not convinced that task management software is the way to go, here are some reasons for you to reconsider:
- Organize all tasks on a single platform: With the right task management tool, PMs have their entire workspace on one platform. They can delegate tasks with ease, monitor them at a single glance, and immediately address any delays or issues.
- Prioritize tasks based on importance: All tasks are important. But are they all equally important? No. With a task management tool, PMs and teams can focus on the most critical tasks first and then turn their attention towards less impactful ones.
- Boost team collaboration: ‘Teamwork makes the dream work’ might be a cliche, but it holds true for most organizations. Task management platforms have features to boost collaboration, such as in-task comments and user mentions, to help teams communicate with a purpose.
- Break down complex projects into subtasks and dependencies: Large projects can be daunting. They require tons of planning and seamless execution since minor delays or mistakes can lead to major issues. This is why task management software like SmartSuite lets you create sub-tasks and dependent tasks, so it's easier to manage.
- Automate repetitive tasks: Some tasks, like a monthly report or a weekly meeting, happen on specific dates throughout the year. Rather than setting up each of these occurrences manually, task management software uses automation to create tasks every month or week, based on the PM’s needs.
- Check on tasks with a single glance: Project managers have multiple projects on their plates. They can't afford to manually look at every task every day to make sure it will be completed on time. This is why they need a task management tool to see all their tasks in one window.
- Portability: Good task management software like SmartSuite lets PMs monitor tasks and communicate with their team no matter where they are via dynamic mobile apps. They can also alter task details on the go.
- Support remote teams: When the entire team can look at an up-to-date project board with all their tasks on it, they don't have to go looking for crucial information or badger their managers/team members for it. This is especially crucial for remote or hybrid teams where different workers have varying time zones and work schedules.
How to Pick the Best Task Management Software
When you're picking out a task management tool, here are seven features to look out for:
1. Visual Task Management
Your task management platform should have a visual interface that makes task planning, task tracking, and collaborative task management easy. This easy-to-use interface should let you drag and drop items, indicate task priority, add task dependencies, and easily see details like task status, deadlines, and assignees without actually opening the task. Team members should also have access to any information they need at all times.
Good project management software offers multiple project board views to support different project methodologies. These views include a Kanban board, Timeline View, and Card View.
On SmartSuite, PMs can group their team's tasks and create a Gantt Chart via the Calendar View or see a task list using the Grid View. In addition to this, time tracking capabilities allow team members to log their time and ensure they're being productive. A dynamic interface ensures proper information distribution and helps even the most rookie users understand their tasks in minutes.
2. Real-Time Collaboration
The right task management software enables you to create a culture of collaboration in your organization. One of the primary features to facilitate effective teamwork is in-task comments. When you add comments within tasks, work conversations happen where the work is being done — aka within context. This eliminates the need to switch between tabs and apps to get general information, updates, or edits.
SmartSuite takes it a step further by letting you @ mention team members to bring them into a conversation or grab their attention to an essential element within project tasks.
To streamline inter-team projects, SmartSuite has a member directory where you can view information about employees in other teams. This way, you can find collaborators from other departments and ask them to join your project. Permissions allow PMs to dictate what every employee has access to, while Activity History lets everyone monitor exactly what is happening.
Manual, redundant tasks have a significant impact on productivity. Research suggests 90% of employees are frequently burdened with monotonous or low-value tasks. Mundane, repeatable tasks that could be automated are estimated to cost businesses 19 working days of productivity per employee each year. Which can significantly affect your bottom line.
Automation is essential for effective task management. It eliminates low-impact tasks from your workflow so that employees can focus on work that matters. Task management software like SmartSuite has automation rules to streamline your work processes. The automation works on a "if this, then that" logic, where "this" is a trigger and "that" is an action. You can see an example in the image below.
You can use automation for creating and assigning tasks, getting notifications, moving tasks from one field to another, generating records from your email, and more. On SmartSuite, you can even automate events across multiple integrated apps.
If you need to calculate values quickly (or just hate math), you can use SmartSuite's Formulas to get all the calculation features you'd get in a spreadsheet. You don't have to manually build the formulas (though you can if you want to). Instead, you can just use the Formula Builder to pick items from a drop-down menu.
4. Third-Party Integration
When your team has to jump between different apps to get data, update schedules, or communicate, they waste time. The more tools they use, the more noise there is in terms of emails and notifications. This is why your task management system must integrate with third-party apps.
An integrated workspace that connects your email, Slack, Calendar, and document management systems helps teams eliminate the noise and be more productive. Tools like SmartSuite go beyond integration. We integrate with 2000+ apps and also let you create automation rules between them.
Using SmartSuite, you can create a cohesive system where all your apps work together.
Getting started with a task management platform shouldn't take you hours. The right tool will have templates for easy onboarding, regardless of the industry you're in. PMs need templates for multiple project processes in different industries to get their teams running as quickly as possible. Whether you're building a sales system, marketing campaign, or recruiting board, or you’re tracking a construction project, SmartSuite has Solution Templates for them all.
All of these templates are customizable. So, you just need to pick one and fill in the details or make changes to match your work process. Even if you choose to start from scratch, SmartSuite lets you create a project management tool for their team with ease. PMs can select from different elements, including work process, field types, and reports, to develop transformative business solutions for their team.
Dashboards are your key to making data-driven decisions on a task, project, and organizational level. A dashboard visualizes all critical data in one place, so managers and leaders can gain valuable insights, make crucial decisions, and identify any potential issues.
In task management software like SmartSuite, you get access to a dashboard filled with different types of widgets. All these widgets compile data in real-time and show the latest stats on every important project metric.
You can create a dashboard to track projects and monitor department performance, or you can even create a personal one to get your latest performance statistics.
On SmartSuite, you can embed charts into widgets and add tables to summarize the data for easier understanding. A dashboard helps keep decision-makers, such as stakeholders and leadership, updated on project progress. They can grasp project or task progress without diving into too much detail and make decisions accordingly.
7. Data Management
Manually filling in data from multiple sources into your project is time-consuming, and there's a higher chance of errors. Exporting data manually is equally arduous. The task management software you choose must enable seamless data importing and exporting with a few clicks. This is why in SmartSuite, you can import data from spreadsheets, calendars, and contacts to update existing records or create new ones. Its import module is intuitive and directly fills in the imported information into the appropriate fields.
You can also customize which data is filled into which column and pull in data from other apps using automation. Plus, you can directly add files to records, so team members have it right where they need it, rather than having to use email or Slack or a shared folder on another app. You can add multiple file types, images, and videos to every task or record.
You can also drag and drop or upload files into records, fields, checklist items, and comments. Collaborators can add comments directly into the shared file. For example, editors can use comments on an image to suggest edits.
What Is the Best Task Management Software?
We're not biased or anything, but SmartSuite is the best task management software for any team or organization. Do we have hundreds of competitors? Yes. But do we have the features to beat them all? We think so.
SmartSuite is a dynamic all-in-one work management platform that supports effortless task management and offers many other solutions across every business process.
Our tool uses a system of Solutions, Applications, Fields, and Records to help you create a task out of any item. You can read how it works here.
Here's how SmartSuite stands apart from its competitors:
- We have 100+ Solution Templates so that you can set up projects instantly. Whatever field you're in, there's a template for you.
- You can also build a custom Solution to match your team perfectly.
- Unlike most other workspace tools, our system lets you turn anything into a task by adding due dates and assigning it to team members. This includes checklist items, comments, sub-items, and records.
- Your tasks are supported by intuitive file sharing, collaboration, and data management features. So, your team can streamline their work processes and be more productive.
- Teams can use seven views — including Grid, Kanban, Card, Calendar, Timeline, Map, and Chart — to visualize their tasks and promote transparency.
- You can automate your entire workflow and create a cohesive work system on our platform by integrating with 2000+ third-party apps.
- Our time tracking capabilities make for easier work management.
- Our platform has activity logging, instant notifications, login tracking, and a recycle bin, so you're aware of any modifications to a Solution or specific data. Admins can even view all active sessions and terminate any suspicious ones.
- We have dynamic web, tablet, and mobile apps, so you can work on the go, at the office, or from home.
Learn more about our platform and why it is the best task management software here.
Get Your Work Done on Time With SmartSuite
Task management software is part of the foundation of a successful organization. SmartSuite has all the tools needed to help you manage every task and project without a hitch. Our robust platform caters to businesses across every niche.
You can get a taste of how our platform works by checking out our Task Manager Solution Template.