It’s your best mate’s wedding and as his best man, you have to plan a bachelor party that will be remembered for ages. To plan a party, you’ll have to pick the place, plan different activities, send out invites, and do a dozen other things.
In the above scenario, planning the party was your project and the different things you had to do were your tasks.
In an office environment, you’d generally handle numerous projects and tasks, simultaneously. The conference your team is gearing up for, for example. You’d need the slides for the keynote, reading material and swag for the giveaways, pre-event blogging, and social banners, and more.
Which of these are projects and which of these are tasks?
These two terms get tossed around a lot in similar contexts so it can be quite confusing. If you can’t differentiate between project management and task management, don’t worry.
But first, how are they related?
Desmond Tutu, recipient of the 1984 peace prize famously said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant. A bite at a time.”
Almost all project managers operate on this philosophy–they divide their projects into a set of small, manageable tasks. Project management and task management go hand in hand as you’ll need to effectively manage your tasks and have the project management skills and competencies in order to become a successful project manager.
To understand the difference between project management and task management, you’ll first need to understand what these concepts are. Many managers fail to distinguish between projects and tasks which complicates things for everyone involved.
Projects have specific start and end dates. They have milestones and a clear outcome. There’s a completed product or service at the end. Tasks are single units of work, on the individual level to complete a project.
What is project management?
Project management requires you to handle different aspects of a project while keeping the bigger picture in mind. Project management encompasses the process of
- project initiation,
- project planning,
- project execution,
- project monitoring and control, and
- project closure is the work to achieve a company’s specific short-term or long-term goals.
Projects have specific success criteria with a clearly defined beginning and end. In project management, you won’t often see repeated activities and the strategic project planning process will be more detailed. A project manager will also have to care about factors like cost, project scope, deadlines, and available resources.
What is task management?
Task management means handling all aspects of a single task. You start from planning the task and later execute, prioritize, and assign them to ensure successful completion. Unlike projects, the management of tasks does not require you to be concerned about factors like dependencies as you are not concerned with the bigger picture.
People sometimes wrongly assume that task management is simply coming up with a ‘to do’ list. It is much more than that. In task management, you set deadlines, prioritize tasks, select team members to assign, track project progress, and do other similar things to ensure no delays happen.
The idea behind it is simple; when you are given something overwhelming and time-consuming, it’s better to divide the whole thing into smaller tasks and manage them separately.
Now, how exactly are they different?
A major thing that sets project management and task management apart is task dependencies. As stated before, project management requires you to consider the bigger picture and plan accordingly.
To explain what task dependencies are, let’s talk about planning a party again. You’ll definitely send the invites after finalizing the location. Sending them before would be pointless as you’ll have to contact everyone again to give them the location. This may be a minor inconvenience in this case but industrial projects are very different.
In those projects, you’ll have limited resources and tight deadlines and a mistake like that can prove costly. In project management, there are multiple tasks that require some other tasks to be completed before they start. However, this is not the case in task management.
Project managers handle multiple projects at the same time. Similarly, you’ll also have to handle multiple tasks from different projects simultaneously and that will allow you to improve your overall management skills.
When to use project management and task management?
Many project management professionals feel confused about the project management vs task management debate. They often fail to recognize the subtle but important differences between task management and project management.
Task management is often exclusively used while dealing with repetitive and independent tasks. It doesn’t matter if you are working alone or are a part of a large project team. If you need to properly strategize projects and plan the workflow process for different tasks only, it’s made for you.
Project managers deal with a lot of things at once and they have to be effective in task and project management. Project management is applied in situations where you have to plan the project scope, monitor resources and progress, negotiate with different parties, create invoices, and do much more.
How technology can help you manage projects and tasks
Project management tools come equipped with task management capabilities because you can’t be an effective project manager without being a good task handler. Cloud-based project management software like the Kissflow project allows users to plan, assign, prioritize, and track the status of their individual tasks with ease.
You can visualize your entire project and implement effective management strategies to maximize your team’s productivity. Sign up for a free trial today.