If your teams are struggling to meet deadlines, you might need to consider either a project management or task management platform to keep them on track. Jack Wallen explains each and helps you understand which tool is the best fit.

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Your teams are busy, and with every passing day, their to-do list grows larger and larger. It doesn’t matter if those teams are developers, admins, operations or any other member of the IT landscape, those tasks can become overwhelming.

That’s why it’s important to employ the right tools to help those teams stay on top of their daily jobs. With a management tool available to help them manage their projects and tasks, those teams will run with a high level of efficiency and reliability.

SEE: Top keyboard shortcuts you need to know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

But what type of tools do your teams need? On this front, there are two types of management tools you should consider:

  • project management
  • task management

You might be surprised to know that while these two types of tools have the same goal, they are actually quite different, and selecting the right type to meet your teams’ needs can make a big difference in how well they perform.

So, let’s examine both of these tools to see which one might be best suited for your teams.

What is project management?

Simply stated, a project management tool is there to help your teams manage projects. These types of software can carry your teams through every stage of a project, from the initial planning stages all the way to the closing of a project.

Project management software helps you plan, organize and manage all resources associated with a project. The better project management platforms include features for:

  • Project planning
  • Task management
  • Document sharing
  • Collaboration
  • Calendars and contacts
  • Bug management
  • Time tracking

Many project management software uses familiar interfaces such as kanban or Gantt Charts to keep track of the project as it progresses from start to finish.

What is task management?

You probably noticed that project management tools often include task management, which should be a good (initial) indicator as to which tool you might need. But before you get to the decision, what exactly does task management entail?

As you might have guessed, task management narrows the focus to include every aspect of a single task. So, the idea behind task management isn’t about the big picture found in project management, but a bit more granular. With task management, your teams aren’t worried so much about dependencies of the whole, but what is required to complete a single task.

That doesn’t mean task management is nothing more than a to-do list on steroids because these tools make it possible to:

  • Prioritize tasks
  • Assign tasks
  • Set deadlines for tasks
  • Track progress and delays

What is a dependency?

One of the biggest differences between the two is that project management does have to take into consideration dependencies. The best way to explain this concept is to break it down into the four different types of dependencies, which are:

  • Finish to Start—Task B can only start once Task A is completed.
  • Start to Start—Task B can only start once Task A has started.
  • Finish to Finish—Task B can only finish once Task A has finished.
  • Start to Finish—Task B can only finish once Task A has started.

Project management places a priority on dependencies, whereas task management does not. Within the realm of task management, each task exists within its own silo, so it can be started and completed at any time.

Which tool is best for your needs?

The answer to this question is actually a bit simpler than you might think. The best use of task management is for repetitive and independent tasks, whereas project management tools are best suited for entire lifecycles of complex projects.

Examples of each

Here’s is a shortlist of Project Management platforms:

Examples of task management platforms include:

It should also be noted that some project manager tools, such as Trello and Asana, can serve as both project and task managers, but task manager tools cannot serve the needs of project management.

In the end, if you have a complicated project to manage, you want a project management platform; whereas for simpler tasks, go with a task management tool.

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