Social task management applications, in particular Asana, Producteev, and,
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 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 and
now offers Premium Services and uses 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.