Task Management is Simply Not Enough!

Can a couple survive a marriage relying only on the list of vows they make on their wedding night? Not likely! Then why would you think a project can be managed to successful delivery using task management tools like listed tasks and task owners on colored sticky notes?

Unless the couple remembers to include in their vows all the little details, like who does the dishes or takes out the garbage and when, who is in charge of laundry when it coincides with grocery shopping, or cooking… you know, life – the whole shebang. Without these, what do you think their odds of success are? Zero, right?

Here are 5 good reasons why task management is just not enough.

It is very trendy recently to make the most out of Kanban boards, a simple and efficient method developed in the automotive manufacturing industry of mid 20th century Japan. The basic version of the board has three task stages: To Do, Doing and Done. A more sophisticated version breaks down “Doing” into plan, develop, test, deploy, etc., and only then it is followed by “Done”. These boards worked wonders in manufacturing routines, but can you use them effectively in project management?

1. Timeline

Show me the timeline! Kanban board apps are not famous for their timelines. That’s because they don’t really exist. Maybe if you dump all the tasks on your team and co-workers you won’t need a timeline, but then, how will your team report their progress to you, and how will you report on progress to the customer?

True, you can arrange sticky notes on the Kanban board to present a timeline – but, really?! All you end up having is a messy, albeit colorful, pile of notes with short-term dates on them. It is unlikely that you will see anything beyond this week and next week, while your organization is trying to plan one year ahead. Kanban boards were not created with or as longer term timelines, so viewing them in a timeline sequence simply doesn’t work.

2. Implications

Even for short-term, the Kanban board doesn’t provide a dynamic plan and tasks are linked to each other inconspicuously. If one task is delayed, the board doesn’t display the impact on other related tasks. The short-term limitation is a complete gap with longer term plans. What do you think will happen when you plan and calculate, say, one year ahead and through 10 other tasks? Don’t burn a fuse, it’s mission impossible!

3. Where have all my issues gone?

Tasks listed under “Doing” get their attention. But what about tasks in the “To Do” list? Is the task even doable at all? Are there prerequisites? Will they be ready on time? Finding project issues calls for a project analysis methodology based on the critical chain or based on Projectmap structure analysis. Without project analysis, issues are bound to come up in the last minute, right before they go into the “Doing” stage.

4. Increasing visibility of project tasks

Projects are the small building blocks of organizational strategy. Projects are mostly unique, one-off dedicated efforts aimed at specific targets, with assigned resources and delivery schedules. Organizational tasks run on a wider-scale and can include anything from ongoing administrative assignments to strategic and critical tasks, which can be long running. Kanban tools create a stream of general tasks without outlining the specific projects and the attention they require.

5. Can project management tools be integrated with task management tools?

Absolutely! We’re not saying marriage vows are not important. We’re saying they’re not enough for a marriage to work. When combined with team engagement, timeline realities, implications, constrained and dynamic changes, not only will your project succeed, it might even be a happy marriage!

What to do then?

The best solution for Project Management is an integrated system, allowing top-down planning from timeline to task management. Software and hardware integration, production, events, bio-tech, clean-tech and construction rely on project management tools, only using task management as a complementary solution.

When picking your project management tool, first make sure it can handle the long-term timeline dynamically and help you analyze the project structure issues in advance. Then check what kind of task management capabilities are built in. Tell us when you find this magic app…(hint: click on the “free trial button” on this website.)