Staying on top of things at work can be overwhelming—especially when you oversee a team.
After all, getting your own work done is hard enough. Add team management to your list of responsibilities, and it’s easy to see why so many important project deadlines are often missed. Another challenge is that your team might be remote and not fully realize which tasks to prioritize, resulting in more time spent on less pressing tasks.
When you want to organize your team’s overarching projects, daily to-do lists, and assignment priorities, task management software is the ideal solution.
What is task management software?
Task management software is far more than a simple to-do list app. At its core, it helps with project management across teams and aids overall team management too. Also known as task tracking software, it monitors each task from start to finish and helps you track exactly what your team has to do and when they have to do it.
Think of it as a digital type of Kanban solution. The Kanban philosophy is a visual of various stages within a process. Similarly, task management software helps you manage workflow at the individual and team level—giving you a solid picture of what your team is working on (and should be working on) at any given time.
Step 1: Build your plan with task management software
Let’s say you‘re a marketing director for a furniture chain and need to lead a targeted marketing campaign to sell more armchairs.
The ideal task management solution will make getting started very simple and help you:
- Create and name a plan. For example, you could name your plan Armchair Marketing Campaign, and write a brief summary describing the overall project.
- Identify the people who will collaborate on the plan. Task management software can also help you provide different levels of access to the plan, such as granting access only to collaborators or across a larger group of people.
- Create “buckets” to sort out tasks. If the three main components of your marketing campaign are social media, print materials, and your corporate website, you could create three separate buckets called Social Media, Print, and Website. These buckets will eventually contain specific tasks and to-do lists (see more about tasks below).
Other features for managing your plan
Ideally, your task tracking software will offer many small (but significant) features to simplify administration and improve teamwork. It will also help you do things such as set up email notifications and add, remove, or give plan ownership to team members.
You’ll also save a lot of time if your software allows you to copy plans. For example, if Armchair Marketing Campaign goes smoothly, you won’t need to recreate the plan for future projects. Simply copy the overall plan framework from Armchair Marketing Campaign to your new campaign.
Step 2: Create tasks for your plan
Congratulations! You’ve created your plan and buckets for Armchair Marketing Campaign. Now it’s time to identify tasks—the detailed stuff that needs to get done.
Let’s use this example. You want to produce two brochures: one that will be printed, and one that will be a slightly different downloadable version on your website.
Using your task management software, create individual tasks including:
- Writing the first draft of the brochure content.
- Reviewing the brochure content.
- Editing the brochure content and creating a second draft for approvals.
- Making the final edits and getting approvals.
- Creating the print layout.
- Printing the brochure.
- Designing the web layout.
- Publishing the brochure online.
After creating your tasks, organize them in their respective buckets. In this case, your Print bucket would contain all the tasks above except for web design and publishing online. Similarly, your Website bucket would include everything except for print layout and printing.
Because you have a lot of tasks that are repeated across the Print and Website buckets, use your software to copy tasks from one to the other. Just like with copying a plan, this is a great time saver versus having to create the same tasks multiple times for different buckets.
Step 3: Assign tasks and fine-tune each task’s to-do list
Now it’s time to assign individual tasks to Armchair Marketing Campaign plan members.
For each task:
- Add a description.
- Add a to-do list (or if tasks are time-sensitive, a daily to-do list) within each task.
- Provide start and due dates.
- Mark tasks according to priority (such as urgent, important, medium, or low).
Labeling and flagging tasks
As you set up all your tasks, you’ll likely notice some commonalities. For example, both your print and web-based brochures will probably be written by the same person and display the same images. The writer and those images may also be the same across additional marketing tasks.
With your task management tool, you should be able to label your tasks according to any number of attributes, including task members, time constraints, and other requirements. This will help if you ever need to search tasks for commonalities.
Using task management software with other apps
Perhaps one of the most valuable things about task management software is that it can be used with other important business applications.
Ideally, your software will allow you to attach files, photos, and links directly to and/or within the tasks themselves—syncing with external apps you use on a daily basis for email, scheduling, and content creation.
In other words, task management software becomes a central location for everyone to collaborate and get work done.
Step 4: Start tackling tasks and to-do lists with your team
Once you have your plan and tasks set up, this is where task management software really shows its value.
Access your dashboard every day to:
- Discuss tasks with your team within the software solution. Answer questions and clarify expectations throughout the project.
- Set up each task and update its progress. Manage a task whether it hasn’t started yet, is in progress, or is complete.
- View progress charts of the plan and tasks. See if any items on your to-do list are running late, how buckets are progressing, and identify who on your team may be more overloaded with work than others.
- See tasks on a calendar. Combine your tasks with external scheduling apps to view everything on your to-do list by week or month.
- Change assignments and move and transfer tasks. For example, make changes if a new employee comes on or someone leaves your team.
- Provide guest access to contributors outside your organization. These individuals include freelancers, translators, board members, or others that need to contribute to a specific task.
Task management for teams doesn’t have to be a challenge when you have the right tools at your fingertips. Better yet, because this type of software is intuitive, neither you nor your team have to be IT experts to master it.
When everyone knows exactly what needs to be done and when—and they have access to the right information and resources for each task—it’s easy to achieve all your project goals.