What Is a Project Task? How to Manage an Agile Environment
Project tasks are an integral component of product management — learn the best ways to plan development processes in an Agile environment.
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Project tasks, in their entirety, can be daunting, if they are not managed properly. It can be difficult to surmise the outcomes if these tasks are treated as such. Therefore, it’s better to break a project into smaller chunks rather than processing it all together.
In other words, if you have kicked off simultaneous project activities, take a step back and divide your project into smaller, achievable, and deliverable chunks. This theory resonates with the infamous Work Break Down structure mentality. PMs take on different projects or one gigantic program, and then break everything into achievable milestones that are based on realistic goals.
As a rule of thumb, we suggest under-promising and over-delivering for the best results. This post highlights some of the key indicators related to performance blockers, setbacks, and much more regarding project tasks & activities.
Project Task Defined in a Nutshell
A project task, in a project, is a smaller, manageable component of a project. Tasks are a stairway to the result; each step forward takes you closer to your goals.
The successful conclusion of a project requires the efficient completion of each task along the journey. The following highlights various project management methodologies that can help you to breakdown your project and manage your tasks efficiently.
A team working on a project usually has several activities lined up. Each task is assigned to a specific member of the group, where that person is responsible for completing the task within a specified time limit.
A task can be as small as writing an article (such as this one) or arranging a meeting. Complex, demanding tasks can be further subdivided into smaller subtasks for efficient results.
Tasks and activities are interchangeable terms. A task is defined as a specific activity with specific expected goals and outcomes. Tasks, project, and process are interrelated terms; a sequence of tasks form a process through which a project is completed.
Most Effective Way to Split Up Projects
It is customary to categorize and structure your project into manageable tasks for efficient project completion. Having a roadmap can help alleviate the risks and make it easier to reach the goal. You cannot just assign tasks to your team members and leave them on their own. You need to keep a check on the progress, evaluate and reevaluate the results.
While doing so, make sure that the members understand the bits and pieces of their tasks. To that end, miscommunication among team members affects projects’ progress. We’ll get to it later. Rather than leaving the task ‘unattended’ manage your project more efficiently via a proper project management plan.
Following are some of the most popular project management methodologies and frameworks that can help you create your project management task list and manage your projects skillfully.
The two most popular methodologies include waterfall and Scrum.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Waterfall Project Management
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in waterfall project management is the most basic and traditional method of project management. It consists of distinct phases arranged linearly. It structures tasks in a sequential manner whereby one can only move forward when the previous task has been completed. This method is ideal for long-term projects where a project has several phases to completion.
The completion of one phase gives way to the next phase. The downside to this methodology is that you cannot review or re-do a phase. If you want to do so, you will have to start all over again. No second chances in here! Hence, waterfall project management requires proper planning beforehand. You cannot dive into it without understanding the details of each phase. Every team member should be well aware of his responsibilities, with no backtracking.
You can’t possibly cook a meal without the ingredients. Gather your ingredients, add them sequentially and beware, don’t miss out on anything or your food will taste as bland as ever!
Scrum Methodology for Smart Work
Scrum is a sub-category of the Agile framework, where you do not need to plan exhaustively. Scrum allows you to work in deliverable Scrum sprints. A Scrum sprint is a time-constrained event of 1-4 weeks focusing on a specific goal.
Sprint planning is where you divide your project into small-scale tasks and assign them to your team members.
Scrum helps team members evolve and adapt to the ongoing changes. To optimize the efficacy of the project, you hold a meeting with your team members and stakeholders. You create a dedicated sprint backlog after a thorough discussion.
Each member of the team then takes up a specific task. This allows the project managers to focus on the project as a whole.
The exact length of a task depends on the size of your project, but there’s a general guideline.
Work breakdown structure (WBS) works on an 8/80 rule. This rule entails that a project should not be shorter than 8 hours or longer than 80 hours. Chunking the project into micro pieces will make it hectic for the team to micro-manage everything.
PMI recommends assigning 20-80 hours to each task for efficacy.
The task length in Scrum, however, varies with the size of the project, but tasks are often one workday or less. Scrum uses story points to estimate the length of a task wherein a one-story point is equal to a workday.
Limit One Task to One Dedicated Resource at a Time
Breaking down tasks requires more than just setting the time limits; you have to make sure that the resource (the person responsible for the task) can complete the assigned task from the start till the end.
For smaller organizations, an individual can be a resource. For larger ones though, a whole team can be a resource, working on a specific task.
Create Precise Task Durations
It’s almost impossible to accurately predict task durations while you are in the initial phase. You need to invite your team members on-board to create a precise project task set. Members with hands-on experience will be much more valuable and will help you design the tasks more accurately.
The involvement of resources can not only help estimate time durations for a task but can also help identify dependencies and possible blockages in the project.
Organizing Project Tasks
You can organize project tasks with the help of several managing frameworks. Some of the most popular frameworks are discussed down below.
Waterfall for SDLC and Other Similar Projects
Waterfall is a traditional and predictive approach to project management. Every phase of the project is pre-planned and arranged in a linear order.
The Waterfall framework is ‘traditional’ because you first gather the required information, then move on to the designing and implementation phase.
The next phase involves the verification of the products and services and lastly, you focus on the long-term maintenance of the project.
Most project managers label the framework as ‘old school’, but the efficacy is undeniable. The Waterfall framework is ideal when working with high-cost projects and higher dependencies.
Agile is not a specific methodology but an umbrella term for a variety of methodologies. The main aspect of Agile is that it delivers iterations frequently, unlike the Waterfall approach where you have to plan everything beforehand.
Lean aims to create a well-organized, efficient, clean, and effective workplace. It eliminates waste at every step.
Lean sorts out the necessities and eliminates the unnecessary. The necessities are then arranged in a proper sequence to smooth the flow. The next step is to clean the work area intermittently.
Specific standards and practices are set and are strictly followed to make sure the task is completed efficiently. Lastly, maintain discipline and order. Thorough cleanup and elimination of waste can save millions!
Using a Project Management Platform for a Robust Completion Rate
Managing your team via emails is incredibly difficult to keep up with. You will not be able to optimize the work of your team and might even end up with a few mishaps. Rather than relying on inefficient methods, utilize the help of a project management platform.
nTask is a project management software that allows your teams to collaborate, plan, analyze and manage everyday tasks. Aboard the platform now and you will see the results almost immediately.
Pick and Choose!
We have listed four frameworks for project management but there are several others out there. At nTask, you can pick and choose the framework of your choice and even customize it to your liking.
Have a look at all the templates available or customize one and optimize the working efficiency of your team.
High-Level Project Map
Micromanaging via WBS
Dividing the deliverables into smaller chunks makes it easy to micromanage the tasks. After breaking it down, you can assign the tasks to your team members and set priorities accordingly.
The use of WBS makes the project more manageable by dividing and sub-dividing the tasks.
Automation of Menial Tasks
Automation allows you to eliminate the repetition of menial tasks. It also enables you to automatically update new task cards when you receive a mail or a message. The use of automation helps you focus and saves your time as well.
Staying Updated with Latest Changes In the Industry
You can keep yourself and your managers updated with the progress of the project via dashboards. You can also customize the dashboard so that your managers have access to all the information they need.
Over to You!
There’s no hard and fast way of getting things done quickly. Sometimes, projects are complex, and it takes every bit of effort on the PMs behalf to complete project tasks. In such cases, we recommend engaging internal and external stakeholders through rapid communication, vision-setting exercises, and brainstorming to keep everyone on the same page.
It’s hard work — we get it. Therefore, feel free to adapt and improvise as per your project requirements.
Best of luck, and Happy task managing!
Published at DZone with permission of Fred Wilson, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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