How to Choose the Right Task Manager for Your Team
Find the right task manager.
When working in a successful team, there could be hundreds of tasks to complete every day.
In such a fast-paced and demanding environment, you can't use notepads, whiteboards, and manual checklists to complete projects and meet client expectations.
Thankfully, there is an easy solution — a task manager or task management platform.
These platforms are built to help managers and their teams organize, prioritize, and effectively complete tasks. They come with multiple in-built tools, automation, integrations, and reporting features that will boost every team.
In this article, we've delved into the basics of a task manager. Then, to help you select the right tool, we've listed seven essential features and integrations of a good task manager, along with three tips to elevate your task management.
What is a Task Manager?
A task manager is software that helps project managers plan, schedule, assign, and monitor tasks efficiently. It compiles all task-related information in one place and has all the tools employees need to complete them.
Most project management tools have features that help with task creation and management, such as deadlines, assignees, and time tracking embedded in them.
The best task managers, like SmartSuite, help you improve management processes for a simple project, a complex long-term program, or any other business endeavor.
A task manager simplifies task assignment and task tracking. A PM adds a new task, fills in relevant details, adds a deadline and an assignee, and they're done. Once the assigned team member takes over the task, the PM has to monitor the task status and ensure it’s completed on time.
For employees, a task manager shows all their tasks and relevant information in one window. They can also sort and filter tasks. This helps them plan and prioritize their schedules.
Task manager software often has the flexibility to support assignments across different departments. They are helpful throughout the organization for sales, marketing, software development, or customer relationship management (CRM).
7 Essential Features of a Task Manager
There are hundreds of task and work management platforms for you to pick from. Every task management tool must have the following features:
1. Easy Task Organization
Any good task management app makes a project manager's life easier. To do this, they must have basic features that let PMs implement different project management methodologies, such as Agile or Scrum.
The first of these features is multiple views. Your project board must have different views that help you set up your team's tasks in a particular system.
For example, a Gantt Chart Timeline view can help track project tasks, or you could use a Kanban board for Agile project management.
On SmartSuite, for example, you can choose between seven different views, including Grid, Card, Map, and Kanban. This lets you arrange and track tasks efficiently.
Whichever view you choose, the platform must clearly display crucial information, such as the task list, assignees, due dates, task priority, and task dependencies.
You also need a task manager that lets you prioritize tasks so your team can see what needs to be worked on first.
2. Time Tracking
Time tracking is a feature that lets workers monitor their productivity. It also enables project managers and team leaders to track employees' work hours.
Time tracking helps PMs get better estimates for task completion of individual tasks or sets of tasks. Consequently, this helps with better task planning and project scheduling.
With an advanced task management solution like SmartSuite, time tracking is effortless. Team members can track time by duration or a time range. They can use shortcuts and automatic calculations for easy time logging.
Time reporting is another important feature. PMs can see their team's times in one glance and get customized reports with a few clicks. For example, you can use filters to instantly separate billable and non-billable hours or generate estimates.
3. Effortless Collaboration
Effective task management is reliant on team collaboration. When your team has to juggle between multiple apps to get basic information or simple updates on task progress, they're wasting time that could be used to finish more work.
Collaboration is also key for remote and hybrid teams, where workers are spread across the world. Add time-zone differences to a poorly constructed collaboration system, and you have a formula for snail-like project progress.
The first essential collaboration feature is commenting within tasks. This allows team members to have conversations within the context of that task and eliminates endless and pointless back and forth messages.
Worker A can quickly get updates or suggest edits to a task with a comment. The task assignee can then provide updates when edits are completed.
SmartSuite takes it a step further and lets you add files within comments and "@" mention your colleagues to directly get their attention. You can also use the platform's Member Directory to quickly search for the right employees and build an interdepartmental team for a project.
With all of these features, every team member can work on their tasks at their own pace, without any hitches.
4. Real-Time Reporting
How do you know if your project management methodologies are working and all tasks are on track? Do you monitor every task throughout the day? Do you ask your team members for endless updates?
The best way to track project performance and crucial Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is real-time reporting. This is why the best task and project management software have visual dashboards.
On SmartSuite, for example, you can create a Dashboard and add visual widgets to track KPIs. There are tons of widgets you can choose from. Once you've selected a style, you can connect it to a project to automatically import and track data.
SmartSuite lets you track items beyond tasks and records. You can embed videos, social media channels, websites, and documents to keep an eye on all relevant information on one convenient Dashboard.
The platform lets you create Dashboards for projects, teams, clients, and leaders. Team members can track their own progress using personal dashboards.
Automation is essential for successful project management. It's no longer optional. You need a cohesive system where all your apps work together to create an efficient method.
A task management tool with automation eliminates manual, repetitive tasks from your workflow. With these tasks gone, you can focus on work that matters and get more done.
SmartSuite lets you create simple automation rules. These rules follow the "if this, then that" logic. When a trigger action or "this" occurs, the platform will perform the consequent action or "that."
You can use automation to create iterations of a recurring task and auto-assign them, send notifications to specific people when a task is moved to another phase, transfer files between apps, and more.
SmartSuite lets you create automation rules across multiple apps, so you can streamline task management, communication, data management, and more.
Every organization uses various tools to collect and store information, manage projects, share files, and communicate with each other.
You need a platform that makes all of these tools work together. The more apps you can integrate into your project or work management platform, the better.
SmartSuite, for example, uses Zapier to integrate with 1,000+ third-party apps. You can manage all your work from one central platform.
It’s also possible to automate your workflows across multiple apps. For example, you can set up an automation to send a message to a specific Slack channel when a task's priority changes to High.
Thanks to SmartSuite's API, you can read, update, and delete information on other applications from your SmartSuite Solutions.
7. Data Management
Any organization that handles multiple projects and different work processes will need a tool that supports data management. Each department has its deliverables, designs, images, videos, documents, and reports to manage.
You need a task manager that lets you import and export files effortlessly. With SmartSuite, you can import data from spreadsheets, calendars, and contacts into your project board. This data can be used to create or update records automatically.
You can upload project files and SmartSuite will store them for you in a relevant folder, where you can easily access them.
SmartSuite lets you directly attach files to tasks. You can preview files in different project board views and edit or delete them as needed.
To boost collaboration, team members can comment within files.
The platform also integrates with several cloud storage tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Box. You can also import images from your social media channels or a stock image website like Unsplash.
File versions, advanced search options, permission management, and simple exporting options make data management a breeze on SmartSuite.
How to Choose the Best Task Manager for Your Team
You can't just pick task management software based on a feature list. You need to see how the tool will work for your team. Here's a quick guide on how to select a task manager for your team:
1. Examine Your Workflow
If your task manager is to truly boost productivity and teamwork, it must match your workflow. The first step in choosing a task manager is to examine that workflow.
Identify whether your workflow is simple and adaptable to any software or if it's a complex combination of products, projects, and teams. If it's the latter, you need flexible software to adapt to your processes.
Ideally, the platform you choose is customizable enough to suit your needs. On SmartSuite, for example, you can get started with a Solution Template, or you can create your Solution from scratch using the existing building blocks.
2. Check the Feature List
Some teams can get things done using a basic project management tool with bare minimum features. But, more often than not, effective project management is backed by a dynamic app that offers everything you need to host an entire workspace on one platform.
To decide which tool suits you best, check the feature list and see how it matches your workflow.
Define features that you must have and some that would be nice to have. For example, time tracking is a feature that most PMs consider crucial for managing tasks, but you might not. So, you'll be focused on other critical features such as data fields, real-time analytics, or automation.
3. Pick a Scalable Tool
A successful business keeps growing, and you need a platform that grows with you. It's a pain to move entire teams to a different platform due to restrictions or a lack of storage, and so on.
Can you add unlimited project boards for different teams? Is it easy to add new team members and assign tasks to them? Are there restrictions on automation or integration?
A rigid platform with no easy upgrade options can clog up your work processes and create a mess.
4. Integrates With Your Existing Tools
No one has the time to recreate their entire work process on a new platform from scratch. You'll end up wasting days or weeks doing this manually.
When a task manager lacks integrations, it becomes just another addition to your toolbox. What you need is a tool that integrates with the existing SaaS tools you use every day to create a cohesive workspace.
Integrations also enable faster working and eliminate the need to juggle multiple websites and apps.
5. Intuitive User Interface and Easy Adoption
Ask any team member if they're willing to spend hours or days learning a new tool. The answer is likely a resounding "no."
The platform you choose must facilitate easy adoption with an intuitive interface that everyone can learn to use in minutes — even those who are technologically challenged.
It should be a quick and smooth transition from your current array of tools to an integrated task manager.
6. Quick Onboarding and Training
Going off the last point, you should consider how much support your team will need to get started with the new platform.
Choose a task manager that offers multiple options for training and onboarding.
If your team transitions to SmartSuite, they can use the video center, blog, and webinars to learn all about the work management platform. If they hit any roadblocks, there's a dedicated support team to help them out.
5 Must-Have Task Management Software Integrations
On average, an employee juggles 12 to 16 apps. You can make their lives easier by choosing a tool that supports crucial integrations. Some essential integrations include the following.
1. Email and Communication Tools
Teams often communicate via email or messaging platforms like Slack. Choose a task manager that integrates with major communication tools. When you can combine and automate multiple tools, communication becomes easier.
SmartSuite integrates with most communication tools and lets you automate them. You can send automatic emails and messages related to project updates, customer forms, leads, and any other relevant information.
A project management platform with an integrated CRM boosts client relationships.
With SmartSuite’s built-in CRM solution, you can create new records, checklists, and subtasks when a new lead is added. All changes to this item are also automatically updated in real-time.
With a CRM like this, you get insights regarding your sales campaigns and streamline your entire sales pipeline.
Alternatively, you can also integrate SmartSuite with third-party CRM apps.
3. File Management
A task manager that lets you add files directly to tasks is essential. Scattered files lead to wasted time and a drop in productivity.
SmartSuite makes importing files from cloud storage platforms, like Google Drive or Dropbox, easy via integration. All these files are stored in folders within your Solution, so you can find them instantly.
4. Customer Support
Avoid data silos by integrating your customer support tools, like Zendesk or SurveyMonkey, with your project management software.
Track bug reports, create tasks for them, and monitor solutions as quickly as possible via SmartSuite integrations and automation.
5. Marketing Platforms
Monitor the performance of all your marketing campaigns by integrating data directly from platforms like Hubspot and Mailchimp.
Synchronize campaign data across different tools and make data-driven decisions with SmartSuite. For example, you can use your Dashboard to monitor KPIs and assign important tasks to the top performer.
3 Tips to Elevate Your Task Management
Task management isn't just about the tools. You need to have the right framework and work processes to take your task management to the next level.
Here are three tips for building a successful task management system:
1. Choose a Project Management Methodology
Learn about the different project management methodologies. Do a deep dive to truly understand the crucial elements of each methodology. This helps you decide which method is ideal for each project.
Setting up, assigning, and monitoring tasks becomes easier with the proper foundation. You can design a process that will transform your team.
A defined project management methodology helps get everyone on the same page and improve efficiency.
2. Define KPIs
Have a clear set of KPIs that you constantly track using dashboards.
Tracking KPIs helps you understand which processes need improvement to elevate your task management. You aren't just blindly making decisions based on arbitrary factors; you're making clearcut data-based changes.
3. Use the Right Tools
Don't be afraid to explore new tools and their features. While your current platform might be adequate, there's no harm in choosing a platform that can better support your team.
A platform with time tracking, for example, can improve how both PMs and employees manage their tasks. It also boosts project planning and scheduling.
Any app that can improve your work processes is worth checking out. Outdated tools only lead to slower project completion rates and reduced productivity.
Revolutionize Your Task Management Process
Choosing the right task manager helps teams complete more work in less time. PMs can implement efficient processes, monitor progress, and address issues. Team members have a clear overview of their tasks and the features required to complete them on time.
SmartSuite is the right task management software for organizations across industries. The platform is equipped to support different management frameworks, has all the features required for successful project management, and has plenty of automation and integrations to streamline every work process.
Check out SmartSuite today and take charge of your task management.
We have hundreds of templates for every business need, and here are some that can help with task management: