What is a Task Management Tool?
Task management tools are used by individuals, teams and organizations that help complete projects more efficiently by organizing and prioritizing related tasks.
Task management tools come in many forms, like basic spreadsheets or online project management applications. At every level, task management tools help people:
- Work efficiently and reduce waste
- Stay organized
- Ensure teams and individuals are being utilized in the correct ways
- Meet deadlines
Key Components of Task Management Tools
Task management tools addresses a general need to organize, prioritize and visualize work. Through analysis, you learn how to get things done in more effective ways.
Organization – At its most basic level, a task management tool is used to help individuals, teams or businesses stay organized. Part of being organized includes setting priorities for tasks, visualizing the progress of tasks as they pass through stages of completion and compiling analysis or reports to direct future tasks and workflows.
Prioritization – A task board lets you organize your tasks by priority so you can ensure that the most important things are completed first. That being said, task management tools are easy to update. By prioritizing tasks we are able to focus on how work should be attacked, rather than jumping from one item to another without any direction.
Visualization – Not only will visualizing tasks help you remember what you need to do, but it helps you better understand a project as a whole. This means task management tools are easily accessible by everyone. When every item is laid out in a way that is easy to comprehend, dependencies become clear and collaboration is natural.
Analysis – Task management tools produce concrete data that can be reviewed and digested so end users can easily grasp what they are doing, what they have done and how things can be done better. Task management tools always provide for some form of analysis, whether it is a formula that you have created or something built into the tool. This is an essential part improving the way things get done.
Types of Task Management Tools
Depending on the need, task management tools can be fairly simple or provide incredibly in-depth information. Though they all share a core function, organizing work, there are a number of different ways to approach task management.
In most instances, task management tools are represented by a grid system of rows and columns and are commonly referred to as task management boards. Task management systems also include indicators or symbols used to represent various tasks or elements of a task. These can be anything from images, sticky notes or just data in a spreadsheet cell.
Most task management tools can be broken down into three specific categories:
- Manual Task Management
- Electronic Task Management
- Online Task Management
Let’s quickly define each of these types of task management tools so we can better understand how they differ from one another.
Manual Task Management Tools
Manual task management tools are one of the more basic forms of a task management system. They are usually made up from physical items such as a whiteboards, corkboards or even long stretches of paper fixed to walls. There is no virtualization behind these tools, thus the term manual.
Being a somewhat basic system, these kinds of tools work best for people or teams who are dealing with a small number of tasks that rarely change. Organizations or industries with very standardized tasks often use manual task management tools because they require less attention and updates are less frequent or intensive. This makes for a flexible system that is easy to change.
Electronic Task Management Tools
Harnessing the power of computing, electronic task management tools provide expanded flexibility and functionality. Digital or electronic task management tools are not confined by physical space, but allow users to add as much or as little information as they would like. They usually include a wider spectrum of features, such as tracking and analytics. Unlike a manual boards, electronic task management tools can be taken with you anywhere you go with your computer or device.
Electronic systems usually come in a wide variety of forms, from basic spreadsheets to intensive task management applications. These tools can also be integrated with other task and organizational applications to build out a complete enterprise task management solution.
Online Task Management Tools
Combine the depth of an electronic task management tool, with the limitless expandability of the internet and you have online task management. These systems can be packaged as software or online applications, allowing individuals or teams to organize and monitor tasks from any location.
Online task management tools such as kanban boards and project boards are especially useful for teams who take on many tasks with varying descriptions and priorities, in addition to working with remote team members. They allow information, metrics, reporting, analytics or any other files to be easily shared over an internet connection. Most online task management tools work on the Cloud so users are able to allocate storage space and backup critical information without overloading their internal networks.
Online task management tools also offer teams with better methods to communicate and collaboration. Using an internet connection, team members can receive status updates via email or discuss task details.
Benefits of Using a Task Management Tool
Task management tools are an effective resource for teams, but can also be utilized by individuals. Task management tools help end users work smarter, get more done and experience more success.
When properly applied, task management tools can:
- Manage and organize workloads – Know what you have to do and which items have priority. Assign and execute.
- Increase efficiency and production – Applying an optimal amount of resources and time to a task equals smaller turnarounds in the production cycle.
- Improve quality of work – Quality is never sacrificed for speed of production when tasks are organized and information is correctly utilized.
- Drive collaboration – Teams work better when there is a shared understanding of what needs to be done and ideas are easily communicated through a visual task management system.
- Reduce waste – Eliminate time spent thinking of what to do next or reworking tasks that were not completed correctly on the first attempt.
- Meet deadlines – With an organized task management system you and your team work more efficiently making missed deadlines a thing of the past.
Choosing the Right Task Management Tool
Selecting the task management tool that best fits your needs takes time and thought, it is not something you should throw darts at. There are a ton tools to choose from in this market. Some are extremely basic while others offer a wide range of functionalities, delivering enough metrics to satisfy even the most avid of numbers driven teams.
It is essential to keep in mind that the complexity or simplicity of a tool does not make it the best solution. Balancing your needs against what a task management tool can do to help you and your team work better together, become more organized and boost production is essential.
Here are five things to consider when looking for a task management tool.
- What types of tasks are you taking?
- Size. Is it just you, five other team members or 50 plus employees?
- Is remote access a priority?
- How important is data analysis?
- Does it need to be integrated into other systems or applications?
With the right task management tools at your disposal project management becomes more about getting things done the right way instead of just getting them done.