Project Management optimize

Social task management vs. project management tools for your SMB

If your SMB is trying to determine whether it needs a social task management solution and a project management platform, find out what each option offers.

Social task management applications, in particular Asana, Producteev, and Do.com, are getting a lot of well-deserved attention lately. These free cloud platforms are bringing order to project teams in midsize to large enterprises. Introducing one of these applications to your small to medium business (SMB) is a key first step to getting a basic project management framework in place.

Choosing a social task management solution

Asana, Producteev, and Do.com bring the traditional task list or to-do list to the cloud. As an entry-level tool, social task management applications offer SMBs an option to centralize tasks for the entire organization and provide a familiar format for the widest audience of users. Any authorized user can then interact with workspaces, projects, and task lists in a rather free form manner. If your SMB is struggling to stay organized on projects and other initiatives, going with a social task management platform is a definite first step to achieving a project focus.

Some common features of social task management solutions include:

  • Secure workspaces that you can lock down to teams or departments
  • Projects (lists of task items) that reside in the secure workspaces
  • Limited scheduling tools (date, time, and reminder) for tasks
  • Audit trail for tasks (date and time added and then modified by the assignee)
  • Tagging of tasks
  • Sharing of tasks and task lists
  • Favorite particular task(s) in a project
  • Comments and feedback on tasks and task list
  • Email reminders about tasks
  • Integration with Google Calendar

These features can give everybody in an SMB a singular view into what's going on across different projects and business activities. Here are reasons why a social task management solution might be the right choice for your SMB:

  • Quick and dirty tool for centralizing all project and business tasks
  • Little or no budget for a task management solution
  • Schedule tracking is still ad hoc and not an issue yet
  • Resource management over people is not yet a consideration
  • Project management is yet to be part of a job description

While each of the major social task management platforms is promising to remain free, each one is but an introduction to their company's fee-based premium services or products. The Asana product roadmap includes premium services. Jive now owns Producteev, with plans to use it for attracting new customers. Likewise, Salesforce owns Do.com and now offers Premium Services and uses Do.com integration with other cloud applications as part of its Do More with Do strategy.

Choosing a project management solution

The prevailing winds of SMB growth, project failures, and the need for tighter internal controls over project schedules, budgets, and staff mean an SMB may reach a point when it's time to choose a true project management platform to either augment or replace social task management inside their organization. 

The Software as a Service (SaaS)-based project management platforms available aren't just for large enterprises; in fact, project management solutions like LiquidPlanner, Viewpath, and Teambox can point to SMB customers where their product plays a central role in running projects and business operations. As a central hub, a SaaS project management solution can offer an SMB the following:

  • One view over project schedules for managers and team members
  • Notifications, commenting, and audit trail over tasks
  • Time tracking and approval

Any concerns about a SaaS-based project management solution sapping the free flow creativity of your startup or SMB should be put by the wayside, because the current generation of these tools require remarkably little administration and offer a true convergence of collaboration and project management features. Your entire SMB (rather than just a formally trained project manager) can interact with a SaaS-based project management platform.

The choice to augment an in-place social task management solution with a project management solution (or just migrate entirely) comes down to these factors:

  • Requirement for multiple views into project tasks, scheduling, and resource information (Gantt charts, workload, and calendar)
  • Progress and schedule tracking are becoming a necessity
  • Resource pooling and allocation are becoming a necessity
  • Time logging and time tracking of tasks
  • Project budget controls

Coexistence or one platform?

The possibility of a social task management and a project management solution coexisting depends on your SMB's needs. However, I encourage you to keep transparency in mind, because task management and many of the same features your SMB enjoys with social task management tools are available in LiquidPlanner, Wrike, Teambox, and other project management platforms.

For insight into how an SMB found transparency improvements in a single project management platform, read the case study I wrote for ZDNet (TechRepublic's sister site) about how Duxter streamlines collaboration and project management with Teambox.

What did your SMB choose?

Has your SMB had to choose between social task management and project management? If so, let us know what you decided and how that's working out by posting your comments in the discussion.

About

Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applica...

13 comments
karenkanban
karenkanban

We are using Kanban Tool - online board for sharing tasks, documents and comments with team members: http://kanbantool.com/. We are really satisfied with it. Kanban Tool provides project/board access privileges, tags, sharing options, and useful integrations with: email, Google Calendar, Dropbox, Sky Drive and Google Drive.

2tasks
2tasks

We have used many tools over the years from free solutions hosted locally to SaaS offerings. After many years of frustration, I decided it was time to do something about the lack of a good collaboration focused project management software and started my own business. I know it works, because it is the result of years of deciding what is needed for small business environments. Try it out for 60 days at https://www.2tasks.com and let me know what you think.

Eric

2tasks

Andrea Francis
Andrea Francis

Hi Will, great article. I can't remember where I saw the statistic but SMBs are much slower than large companies to adopt collaboration tools or task management tools. Hopefully this will change as there are so many benefits to be had from such tools. We're aiming for small teams in particular at Twoodo - as someone specializing in that area and productivity, you might like to take a look! http://bit.ly/1gHziDH

ben
ben

Hi Will. Really interesting article and some great comparisons. We actually use a range of tools - Teambox for our agency work and Pivotal Tracker for our day to day task management needs. We've recently starting using a new tool that we created called http://updatey.com, which we're crafting to work alongside the traditional PM tools out there. Not sure if it is something your readers would be interested in, so i hope you don't mind me mentioning it.

leaangles3
leaangles3

We use proofhub to manage team and our clients. Best project management tool we have ever used + it also has a free plan.

 

bobgeorgegray
bobgeorgegray

Talygen comes with a 30 day free trial period and offers a number of functional modules that helps in increasing your business efficiency. I would recommend this tool for sure to my family and friends!

Dhanzil
Dhanzil

Excellent article Will! It sets the expectations straight. For those starting to manage 'activities', with ad hoc processes, this can be a question - whether to go for social task list app or a proper project management software and they will most likely to begin with social task management and collaboration tool.

For those, already managing considerable (time, resources, cost) project, NONE of these social task management apps will suffice rather such basic task list/collaboration tool can create chaos. The best option they have is a proper project management software. And Will said it rightly - new set of PM tools are way easier to use and administer than legacy enterprise application, they are flexible, cost effective and offers quick learning curve for most stakeholders (PM, Team members, executives, customers)

In my experience, I have seen companies are successful if they have repeatable processes with clear accountability among stakeholders. My experience with our own customers who are using ZilicusPM - online project management software (http://www.zilicus.com) have clear expectations from the tool such as

- Gantt chart: Task scheduling, dependency, WBS and tracking progress
- Resource tracking and management (load, capacity, utilization, allocation)
- Budget, cost and billing management
- Issue tracking, risk register - planning and management
- Useful dashboard and reports to get clear visibility into project, portfolio status
- Better collaboration with notifications, reminders, sharing, commenting, etc.

I'd suggest you to visit http://www.zilicus.com/tour/ if you are looking for comprehensive project management software and take a tour of ZilicusPM

mariel.
mariel.

This is a great article Will!

I think the best way to find an app that's best for you is to just try them. The people who sign up and use our task management/ time tracking app (http://triggerapp.com), are looking for all of the above, including a simple interface, that looks beautiful, that's one of the things that separate us from everyone else. Simple functionality. :)

Nick Nikolaev
Nick Nikolaev

Will, article is great! 

I`ve seen many situations when small companies struggled with enterprise pm tools and big teams tried to keep their projects with task management apps. It was a disaster in both scenarios. 

I guess an ordinary person just doesn't know what kind of a tool he really needs. And it’s almost impossible for him to find out that just by using google. If only every person who is looking for a pm or task management tool read this article – there will be less disappointments.  


Julia_WR
Julia_WR

I agree, social task management  is a hot topic lately, and there are many good applications to choose from. Quora is almost flooded by questions about task management solutions. Good thing about them that they are usually freemium so you can check them, however to get the access to the premium features you have to pay I am leaving here a comparison table so you can easily spot the differences between the solutions:

Producteev vs Asana vs Do

http://www.getapp.com/compare/m/90718+90584+2450


rlcohen
rlcohen

Musdoo

Another product to consider in this category is Must.do Task and Project Management (http://www.must.do/).

There was a free version when I signed up.  Not sure now, as pricing no longer appears on their Website.


Mighty Buxx
Mighty Buxx

Online project management services are the Grail. In my opinion they will completely change in near future the way people collaborate and work, and this impact on business efficiency will be comparable to appearing of assembly lines. 

WBS and workflows, task management and automatized report generation - all these now accessible for companies of any size. 

And this is an example of how such tool deal with complex project management: https://vimeo.com/59400005

vincychan
vincychan

Great list. I would have suggested the same.

In case of simple tasks, I use Google Calender and finish it off. But during events, I too use Asana. For project management I had been using Replicon - http://www.replicon.com/project-and-program-management

Irrespective of what tools we use, should never get into trouble, to be precise, the latest post I read on project management compared project management with death and killing videos. Saying "Always choose right projects", means choose right tools.

I agree...