This article originally appeared on the FOCUS blog.
Whatever you do in your professional life, going to work is all about getting things done. While both project management and task management are designed to focus your efforts towards what matters most for your organization, there is often confusion between the two. This blog post will help you identify the key similarities and differences between task and project management and suggest some techniques to make them work to your advantage.
If you’re not “managing” to tell the difference between task management and project management, you probably aren’t alone: the two share many similarities and can often be completed using the same tools. However, mastering both disciplines can ensure not only the smooth completion of projects, but also a wider culture of productivity and efficiency in your organization.
In this post, we look at:
- What is project management?
- What is task management?
- How can MeisterTask help with project and task management?
What is Project Management?
“Project management is the application of processes, methods, skills, knowledge and experience to achieve specific project objectives according to the project acceptance criteria within agreed parameters. Project management has final deliverables that are constrained to a finite timescale and budget.”
Let’s start with the basics. As obvious as it may sound, project management requires a project. Although the term is often used quite loosely, most definitions confirm that a project needs to have a least three defining characteristics:
- Deliverables. This is what the project should accomplish. It could be the development of a new product, a marketing campaign or even the reorganization of a filing system. Most, if not all project work should focus on creating these deliverables.
- Start. A date or time that the work towards the project deliverables begins.
- Finish. A date or time that the project deliverables will be completed by.
So what is project management? In short, the process of project management is ensuring that the deliverables are produced by the time the project finishes. While there are many different ways to manage a project – you can read more about those in our classic vs. agile project management comparison post – the fact that deliverables must be achieved inside a specific timeframe creates a question: What needs to be done, when?
Due to the complexity of ensuring that everything that needs to be done gets done on time, projects often have project managers. These people are ultimately responsible for the smooth running of the project and adapting it to any issues that arise. Most importantly, they are responsible for delegating tasks to the project team.
This is achieved by breaking the project deliverables down into individual tasks, which are then assigned to members of the project team. The completion of each individual task contributes to the wider project goal and ensures that team members can focus on the details effectively.
While many tasks are generally running concurrently during a project, it can be the case that the project’s to-dos are dependent on each other. For example, in a marketing project, you wouldn’t be able to complete the “send newsletter” task until the “write newsletter” task was completed. It is the connections between the tasks, working towards a wider project goal, that differentiates a project from a task and thus project management from task management.
What is Task Management?
So far, we’ve considered tasks as subsections of projects, but they don’t necessarily have to be. While many companies work according to project-based schedules, there are still plenty of important things to be achieved on a day-to-day level or ad-hoc level. The process of scheduling, delegating and completing these activities is known as task management.
Task management is, generally speaking, any activity that falls outside the scope of project work. Rather than via a project manager, tasks are delegated to employees by their team leads, colleagues or even independently (users assigning tasks to themselves). Examples of common non-project tasks include:
- Ongoing or recurring tasks, such as scheduled inventory checks or comment moderation.
- “Daily business” tasks, such as replying to emails, time-logging and other administrative activities.
- “One-off” tasks, which are unconnected to other projects or workflows.
Tasks come in many different forms and often in disguise. An email from a colleague with a quick “could you check this quickly?” request might look innocuous… but it’s a task. Need to write a report for your daily standup or weekly 1:1 meeting with a team member? It’s a task. As you can see, due to the very general nature of the definition of a “task”, the range of activities that fall under the umbrella of “task management” is essentially infinite. The question is, how to manage these effectively?
Many companies (and the employees within them) make a mistake when it comes to managing tasks that fall outside the scope of defined projects. Due to the fact that task management is often considered to be an informal process, the temptation is not to schedule or manage tasks according to defined structures, instead completing to-dos on an ad-hoc basis.
However, the trend towards task management systems, rather than project management software, is evidence that businesses are beginning to understand the benefits of structured processes for all types of corporate activities.
Why Use MeisterTask for Task Management?
You’ve probably seen (or maybe even been) the colleague that starts work each morning with a desk covered with post-it notes and throws them in the waste paper basket one by one as the day progresses, disposing of all records of the task being completed. Alternatively, you may remember a time a customer followed up by phone to ask “if you saw my email from earlier”, only to realize you’d forgotten all about it.
These are examples of the inefficiencies that analog and unstructured task management can cause. Trying to memorize to-dos or manage tasks by email may work for one or two tasks, but when things get busy, these methods are unsustainable and unscalable. However, by using a dedicated task management tool like MeisterTask, you can ensure that not only do your to-dos become to-dones, the standard and efficiency of your work is also greatly improved. Here are just a few benefits of using MeisterTask as a dedicated task management software:
- Scheduling. Your tasks in MeisterTask give you the ability to set due dates that provide an overview of when each task needs to be completed. This is not just reference information for yourself, but can provide everyone in your organization with valuable information.
- Everything in one place. MeisterTask collates task information – such as task descriptions, attachments and comments – on the task itself, rather than in email chains. This helps you ensure that information is centralized, updates to the task are logged in the activity stream and that attachments are available to everyone. You can even use our smart integrations to create tasks straight from your inbox.
- Communication and collaboration. MeisterTask improves communication between colleagues and teams. By keeping conversations about tasks on the task itself, you can ensure that everyone who needs to be in the know, knows, which improves transparency and encourages participation.
One of the reasons MeisterTask is so popular as a task management tool is its simplicity. By keeping features down to a minimum, we ensure that the process stays smooth and uncomplicated, and that users of all technical abilities can get on board. Still not sure? Find out how MeisterTask could benefit your team on our website.
Why Use MeisterTask for Project Management?
While it is perfectly suited to task management, MeisterTask also boasts a range of features that are perfect for project management as well. The tool is a dream not only for project managers, who gain a clear understanding and overview of what tasks need to be completed and when, but provides clarity to project members too.
Here are just a few features that will help you manage projects effectively with MeisterTask.
- Workload Management. Keep an at-a-glance overview on what your team is doing with Timeline: color-coded Gantt-style charts that pinpoint bottlenecks and keep tasks flowing smoothly.
- Automations. Do less, get more done! Let MeisterTask’s intelligent automations take the strain by completing parts of your workflow automatically. Reduce manual work and focus your team’s efforts on what really matters.
- Kanban Boards. Get started immediately with our customizable, Kanban-style project boards. With unlimited sections, WIP limits, filters, tags and checklists, you can quickly power-up any project.
- Integrations. Enhance your projects even further. MeisterTask integrates with dozens of other popular tools such as Slack, Zendesk, GitHub etc., linking project management smoothly into your workflow.
- Reports. Gain valuable insights into your projects with MeisterTask’s customizable reports interface. Switch effortlessly between views to analyze how your team is performing.
Make the Leap
MeisterTask is ideal for all sorts of projects. Our attractive, intuitive tool has all the features you need to ensure smooth, efficient agile workflows and seamless collaboration throughout your project’s life cycle.
Plus, MeisterTask is so easy and intuitive that no onboarding is required to get you and your team started. Simply sign up, invite your team, and see how project and task management can become enjoyable, productive and profitable. Why not contact our sales team for a free demo?
We keep our feature set lightweight to make the tool easier to use. However, due to this, for certain projects that require complex dependencies and financial control, a more specialized tool might be a better solution. You can find out more about how MeisterTask stacks up on our website.
Whether you need a task or project management software, you can join millions of teams who have chosen MeisterTask as their go-to task solution.