What is Task Management?
Every project starts with a single task. And since we’ve all turned into project managers nowadays, it’s important to understand how tasks and projects work together to drive your team and your company towards success.
In this guide, we’ll explain crucial task management concepts – from task management skills and methods, to the best task management software you can use.
By the time you finish reading this, task and project management will have gone from a headache to a piece of cake.
So let’s make your project a success!
What Is Task Management?
Task management is a way of breaking up the entire project into a series of tasks that need to get done.
So let’s say your team is working on a project: reaching a thousand sales by the end of 2019.
Task management helps you define the tasks that are going to help you achieve your goal. It answers the question of:
Who needs to do what in order for us to achieve our goal and finish our project?
Of course, there are different kinds of projects, but the ones we work with in our companies are typically as simple as this. Our team needs to get it done, and tasks will help us get there.
However, just because task management sounds simple, it doesn’t mean it is.
Fortunately, there are proven methods that you can use to make task management the main fuel behind your project’s success.
The Importance of Team Task Management
You may be wondering why we even need team task management tools, and collaborative task management as a concept.
We don’t have to look further from Facebook statistics: 70% of users spend time on the app every day, due to procrastination. So even on a micro-scale, where we manage our own daily tasks, we don’t excel at it.
And if we, as teams, don’t excel at tasks management, here’s what happens:
- The right people don’t get the right things done
- Other team members suffer the consequences
- There’s a lot of confusion
- And the project doesn’t get done in time
Due to all of these causes (and more), we need collaborative task management.
It’s no longer enough for managers to manage projects and leave everything else up to their staff. Instead, we should focus on facilitating transparency in the process, as the whole team depends on its members.
How Do We Manage Tasks within Teams?
While project managers may focus on the details and use fancy terminology, that’s not our goal.
Our goal is getting stuff done (and usually, our task management tool of choice is Microsoft Office 365), and here’s how we manage tasks:
- Structure the project (including resources, key outcomes, and a timeframe).
- Break the project into milestones.
- Divide each milestone into key tasks (the smaller the better).
- Delegate and assign tasks, provide necessary resources, and set deadlines.
- Monitor execution and provide help or make adjustments (if necessary).
This may be the structure of task management, but it’s also important to visualize this task to project completed progress.
Visual Task Management Methods
A simple, yellow post-it to-do list works for task management. But it typically works best for day-to-day personal task management, where everything on the list are things like walking the dog and picking up our kids from extracurricular activities.
When we have to perform team task management, there are a lot of people included in the process, a lot of tasks, and a project that needs to be monitored in order for it to progress.
Gantt Charts for Task Management
Most project managers use Gantt charts for this. It’s simple and it illustrates project progress according to tasks and milestones which have been completed.
As you can see, most Gantt charts aren’t a walk in the park. They can get pretty stuffy and if we use task management tools like Excel, we’re not going to reach collaborative task management.
That’s why teams have started using free task management software like Trello in droves; they’re simple and catchy. They’re interactive – it’s easier to drag and drop boards from ‘task in progress’ to ‘task completed.’
Trello is an example of a very popular task management method: Kanban boards.
Kanban boards are visual boards that separate tasks in three groups: to do, doing, done.
Getting Things Done Task Management Method
Getting Things Done task management method was invented by David Allen with a single goal in mind: assessing the validity of an idea, and executing on it.
It’s a task management process especially efficient when it comes to prioritization of tasks, and understanding the bigger picture of them that will lead to project completion.
When using the GTD method for team task management, it’s important to pay attention to breaking down the tasks even further.
Agile Task Management with Scrum Boards
Agile works especially well when you have to manage software projects, or any other kind of projects that can require multiple iterations.
Agile team task management relies on creating multiple iterations and working in sprints.
Scrum boards are best suited for the agile approach.
When teams use scrum boards for visual task management, they can keep track of tasks they’re currently working on while also keeping other tasks and the bigger picture (project completion) in mind.
However, project managers who’ve become so due to changing workplace demands need more formal and collaborative tools, which leads us to the easiest method that drives results, regardless of your project management experience.
It’s understandable by everyone, and ensures that no team member is at a loss as what to do.
What Is The Best Task Management App?
When it comes to task management, to-do lists are the foundation of success.
But the question is:
Our vote goes to Office 365’s To-Do.
What Makes Microsoft To-Do the Best Task Management App?
First things first: Office 365 To-Do is simple.
Tasks can be added quickly, as well as deadlines and descriptions. Then they can be sorted according to lists (for example, to do, doing, done).
This follows David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) task management methodology. Depending on the variety of tasks your team’s facing, you can create lists for those that you’ve put on the backburner, and those that need more attention.
Microsoft To-Do is the best task management software because it prioritizes.
When it comes to to-do lists, it’s important to prioritize your tasks and review the list frequently. Microsoft To-Do has an integrated ‘My Day’ feature, which allows you to review you and your team’s list of tasks, and prioritize accordingly.
And since we know that no two days are the same, this can be greatly helpful in keeping to-do lists updated and the project moving towards completion.
It’s easy to integrate To-Do with Outlook.
If your team is using outlook for emails, you don’t have to go to a separate app to add new tasks from emails. Instead, all you need to do is flag it and it’ll be synced with To-Do.
Since a lot of teams are already using a plethora of Office 365 programs, there’s no reason to switch to a different app and increase the application sprawl we’ve all been handling lately.
Instead, it’s easy to start using to-do for task management while also using other tools from Office 365 suite for project management. It all wraps up nicely and enables you and your team to be more successful, one task at a time.
It enables collaborative task management.
Ever since Microsoft pitched To-Do as an alternative to Wunderlist, they’ve been working hard on adding new features to increase the app’s usability.
The main thing users wanted was the ability to collaborate on tasks, and that’s something that we have in To-Do today. It’s easy to share tasks with your team, and work together on making the project success through tasks and milestones.
Do You Want More from Project and Task Management?
With a growing number of project managers (and tasks that need to get done), it’s important to have the right tools which can support your growth.
The methods you’ve seen in this article will help you and your team get to the project completion phase much faster than the garden variety to-do lists. However, the most important task management principles can be summed up in three words:
Efficiency, collaboration, and organization.
And as long as you find a method that works for your team and have the right tools to support it, growth will come easy.
If you’ve been using (or plan to start using) Office 365 as your team’s central project and task management hub, make it even better with integrations like Project Central.