Project management and task management.
Those terms get tossed around quite a bit. But are there any real differences?
Consider this example:
At my house, I want to put in a new stone walkway that leads to my front door. To do that, I’ll need to clear the ground, make it level, add the stones, as well as many of other things I’m not thinking of.
The project is creating the walkway. The tasks are what I need to do to make it happen.
But other tasks involve gathering resources: buying stones, finding my shovel, and oh yeah, asking friends to help me out. Those are all tasks, too!
Scoping out and considering the needed resources are vital to a great project.
- The project is the overarching goal which has many tasks: create a stone walkway.
- The tasks are everything that needs to get done to accomplish the goal.
- Project management usually encompasses tasks.
Each project usually has several tasks, due at different intervals. Often, they’re dependent on one another and sometimes one task can’t be finished until the next one begins.
Even though I used an example of creating a stone walkway that was a personal project, generally task management is for more management of personal things whereas project management is generally working with teams.
For instance, if you’re a salesperson, you probably have to reply to a lot of emails and make several calls. Your task is to call the next person on your list.
Your project would be to follow up with 100 contacts that you met at your latest conference.
For some you’ll call (tasks), others you’ll email (more tasks) and you’ll want to gather your sales enablement material that specifically relates to the conference topics (more tasks).
Projects often involve more than one person, and each of those people is performing individual tasks related to the projects. The sum of everyone’s task management will be a finished project. For a new feature, that’s a project that involves more than one person.
Task management is more than just a task manager checking off items on a to-do list!
It’s an organized system for identifying, monitoring and managing the work you and your team does. Task management involves:
- Tracking task progress
- Delegating work to team members
- Setting deadlines
- Adjusting work schedules
- And so much more!
No matter the size of your project, you probably still have a few reminders stuck on sticky notes so you know your task status!
Task management software helps you keep to-do lists and other notes in one place, so you know your task status. They help you move one task along before starting another. Most of the time these tasks aren’t related or dependent on one another.
These are simple apps that are task-driven. Often they’re ranked by urgency and you need to learn how to prioritize tasks so you always know your most important tasks.
Project management software, on the other hand, is meant to coordinate projects.
A project management tool is all about collaboration, coordination, and project planning. These software programs have subtasks, comments, attachments, and task descriptions that give details on when a project should be done.
It often takes a robust time view or Gantt chart to see how all of the projects stack up against one another. You need some kind of task management solution!
Project management software is also great for time estimates, logging time, and project reports. Most task management software programs just don’t have that. Tasks aren’t usually that urgent or that involved to include time estimates within them.
There aren’t necessarily clean breaks between your work and personal life.
Yes, there’s balance, but making your children’s dance recital could overlap with your next client call. Or you may need to fit in that Amazon order while writing your next project proposal. Replace your sticky notes with a project management tool that will help you know your task status anytime!
The best software is project management and task management. You have the tools to do both with the simplicity not to overwhelm one with the other, and find the workflow that helps you balance multiple projects! You should find software that’s a joy to use, whether it’s tasks or projects, personal or professional.