Q&A on Social Project Management vs. Task Management

Date: Jan 2, 2014 11:50:00 AM

"Wait, who was supposed to respond to that customer inquiry from this morning? Have they done it yet?"

Has your business grown to the point that you can’t keep track of everything in your mind? (That's a good problem to have!) Task lists have grown exponentially, and you’ve brought a couple of people on board to help? It’s time to get everything in one place.

But what kind of system will be right for you? There are a ton of questions swirling around in your head right now.

project_management_vs_task_management_vs_post_it_notes

If your desk looks like this, it's time to look into task management software or social project management.

The social project management technologies seem interesting… but aren’t they for larger companies? Could a task management tool really provide enough support for your growing team?

Let us break it down for you.

What do the common task management systems offer?

Within a task management app, you can share tasks among groups of users, and any user can:

  • Create a task
  • Assign a task to someone
  • Create “projects” that consist of one or more lists of tasks
  • Schedule tasks with a deadline (date and time) and create reminders to follow-up
  • Tag tasks
  • Share tasks
  • Log comments and feedback on tasks for others, or themselves
  • Limit task or project access to specific teams or departments to cut down on unnecessary noise
  • Email messages about tasks from within the app

Many task management tools are free, although they offer premium versions at a monthly subscription rate.

How is a social project management tool different?

Social project management software is just that – it manages projects, not just tasks. So while it typically features a task management function, its functionality is extended to include:
  • Scheduling: with a single view over multiple projects for managers and team members
  • Resource management
  • Time tracking and approval
  • Multiple views into project tasks, scheduling, and resource information (Gantt charts, workload, and calendar)
  • Progress tracking
  • Budget controls
Not only for projects, these tools can also help SMBs manage company operations as well.

What should we start with?

If you haven’t tried either system before, you may want to start out experimenting with a few of the free task management apps. They won’t require any commitment to try out, and you can get a feel for how the task systems work.

However, if you’ve already worked with a few systems like Asana, Producteev, or Do.com and found them lacking in features or complexity, it may be time to investigate a Software as a Service (SaaS)-based project management platform.

When we grow further, will we need to migrate everything over to another system?

It’s certainly possible to maintain both a task management system and a social project management system. But carefully consider whether this will be the most efficient approach for your needs.

A benefit of starting out by committing to a project management system is that, because these apps typically offer an embedded task management tool. So while your workload may not yet demand the complexity of the PM system, it may be the best jumping off point, giving you ample space to grow into its additional functionality.

If you’re considering a project management tool, check out our post, “8 Must-Have Features for Small Business Project Management Software” to help with your search.

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