Mastering Task and Product Management
Task and product management are both important tools in effectively managing products. Learn how to implement software to better integrate these processes into your work.
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No matter the profession you are in, work is about getting things done. Both task management and project management are ways to achieve this. These two terms, project management and task management, get tossed around a lot. Often, they are even used interchangeably. But what do they really mean?
In this piece, we have broken down what both task and product management are, as well as defined them by their similarities and differences from one another. So, let’s get right to it. Here is everything you need to know about product management and task management. Before we get into the differences between task management and project management, it is important to understand both of these independently and what they both entail.
What Is Project Management?
According to the Project Management Institute, project management can be defined as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” Let’s break this definition down further. Simply put, project management is the overall management process in fulfilling all tasks and goals related to a project. But what is a project?
People have often used the term “project” as a loose definition to encompass different things. However, most definitions agree that any project requires the existence of three defining characteristics. These characteristics include deliverables, a start date, and an end date. Deliverables are the outcomes that a project should accomplish. The aim of the project itself should be to create these deliverables.
Another defining characteristic of projects is that they are temporary. In this sense, every project should have a set start date, on which all the work to reach the deliverable begins, as well as a set end date, on which the deliverables will be completed. Project management, therefore, is the process of making sure deliverables of the project are produced by the project end date.
Project management can take on several different methodologies to get to successful project completion. To read more about the most popular project management methodologies read our blog post here. Project management also uses project managers to head projects due to the complex nature of the entire project lifecycle. Project managers ensure that the project runs smoothly and delegate tasks to the project team to make sure that the project deliverables are met.
When we refer to delegating tasks, this is done by breaking down the deliverables of the project into individual tasks. These tasks that are broken down from the deliverables are then given to team members to complete. Tasks that are created from the end deliverables can also be running simultaneously during the project. Other types of tasks created in this manner may have what is referred to as dependencies. This means that certain tasks may be dependent on the completion of other tasks before they can be worked on.
What Is Task Management?
Tasks may be subsections or subdivisions of projects. However, these are not the only type of tasks that are possible. You may notice that you have entirely independent tasks that you need to complete on a day-to-day basis. It is the process of managing these tasks, namely the scheduling, delegating, and completing of these work items that are referred to as task management.
Such tasks that are outside the scope of a project could either be recurring or ongoing, one-off tasks, or daily business tasks. Tasks could be of numerous different natures and be small or large in the amount of time they take up. It is the range of possible activities that can fall under the term “task” that makes the definition so wide and all-encompassing. Tasks are usually not delegated to employees by project managers but are rather assigned by team leads, other colleagues, or may even be independently assigned.
Similarities Between Task and Product Management
Now that we have described both task management and project management independently, it is time to see how they are similar to each other. After all, there must be some justification behind many individuals and organizations using the two terms interchangeably. As we mentioned, projects need to be divided into a set of small, manageable tasks for the project to be brought to successful completion and reach deliverables on time.
Therefore, both project management and task management go hand in hand. Project managers need to possess project management skills, but also have command over the ability to effectively manage tasks to be successful in their projects as well as be successful leaders. In cases where you have tasks that are independent of a project, you may be dealing with multiple similar tasks which if you group them could be seen as a project.
For example, let's look at the case of a customer care executive. Your task may be either to call or email your contacts, but you can say that replying to the 200 or so contacts that have sent inquiries is your project. Therefore, it common for people to use the terms project management and task management interchangeably. However, this could be confusing and even be misleading. To add to the effect, once you consider the differences between task management and project management and any of the associated variables more closely, you may understand why these concepts are not identical.
Differences Between Task and Product Management
The main difference between project management and task management is the connection between the individual tasks. As highlighted above, tasks that are created as a result of making projects more manageable all connect to work towards reaching the wider project goal. Often, this connection goes even further if you consider the dependencies that we mentioned above. With dependencies, tasks are sequential in nature and reliant on each other.
To elaborate on task dependencies further, let us consider the example in which you have a project to organize a birthday party. For this project, you will have to set a date, decide on a guest list, finalize a location, send out invitations, and so on. You will only send the invitations once you have decided on the guest list and finalized a location. Therefore, the task of sending out invites is dependent on these two tasks being completed first.
In project management, you will have many such tasks that have task dependencies and with limited resources, tight deadlines, and budgets all being factors in your decision-making, you have to make sure the sequence of tasks is completed appropriately.
This is not the case for task management, where tasks are mostly independent of each other and their management calls for different skills altogether.
Software Used in Task and Product Management
With task management software, you are getting a platform that helps you keep your to-do lists and other notes and daily tasks organized and in one place. Such software aims to help you complete one task before you move onto another one. Usually, these tasks are independent and not related to one another.
With the help of such software, you can add tasks, categorize or organize them as you please, and set due dates related to them. And these are merely the basic features most task management software offers.
There are loads of task management software to choose from to help you stay on top of your tasks and be organized, so many so that the choice can often get quite overwhelming.
You may be interested in checking out our post on the top task management software to choose from to make the decision a little bit easier for you. Most task management apps are simple and easy to use and are task-driven to help you get the job done.
On the other hand, project management software is aimed at helping you coordinate projects. Project management software provides a collection of tools and features that aid in your project planning, collaboration efforts, organization, and delivery of projects. They offer a single platform for all these tools so that you are able to streamline the product management process.
While most, if not all, project management tools can be used as task management software as well, the opposite may not be true. Task management software may be comparable to project management software, but most task management software is simpler in design and in the features offered.
Project management software offers all the tools and abilities task management software provides in addition to multiple other features. These features could range depending on the tool that you choose. Common project management tools include planning features, task dependencies, milestone tracking, file management, resource management, time tracking, and more. They also offer features such as Gantt charts and other visual aids that give you the option to track the progress of your entire project. Furthermore, you can even run multiple projects at the same time and use project management software for them all, which is the case for many project managers.
nTask as Your Task and Project Management Software
With nTask you have all the task management features you could need. This includes the following:
- The ability to create tasks.
- The option to assign tasks to as many team members as you want.
- Task descriptions to ensure each team member knows what is expected of them.
- Task start and end dates so that tasks are completed on time.
- Task priorities so that each team member works on the tasks that are top of the list.
- Status updates so that you know how each task is progressing.
- To-do list items to keep everyone on track.
- Ability to create recurring tasks.
Apart from these task management features, nTask also offers a platform for all your project management needs, taking off from robust planning to execution, and going all the way to successful delivery.
Here are some of the project management features you can use with nTask:
- Timesheets features for productivity checks and easy invoicing.
- Meeting management features to create meetings and note down meeting minutes.
- Issue management so that you and your team can identify any problems that arise during your project and rectify them efficiently.
- Risk management to highlight any potential risks that could arise in your project with a risk matrix for visual representation.
- Ability to view your project’s progress on Gantt charts with task dependencies and milestones.
- Kanban boards for a simple organization of your tasks with work in progress limits.
- And much more.
Having said that, mastering both elements of task and project management is more of a practice, rather than a chore. Clock your hours, remain persistent, and adapt to adversity. That’s one of the most effective ways of ensuring productivity at all fronts.
Published at DZone with permission of Fred Wilson, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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