Agile

Task Management 101. Tips and Skills You Should Know

Mikas Lukoševičius ·

Aspiring marketing specialist, eager to deliver quality + efficiency to your project management needs. 2024 - Present Junior marketing specialist at Teamhood

task management

Successful task management and Agile are two inseparable matters. Let’s briefly look at the most recent statistics about Agile usage. According to the 16th State of Agile report, Scrum is the most popular Agile methodology, with 87% of respondents using it. Meanwhile, Kanban proudly sits in second place with 56% (check out the stats of other Agile frameworks below).

That’s why we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about task management. With the right practices in place, you can successfully manage projects from start to finish, on time, and within budget

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In this post, you’ll learn:

  • What is task management?
  • The advantages of task management
  • Task management skills and examples 
  • Best practices to improve task management
  • How to choose the best task management tool?

What Is Task Management?

Task management is all about planning and finishing your tasks in the smartest way possible. It means managing tasks from the start to the end, ensuring you hit your goals. It involves aspects like defining tasks, prioritizing tasks by urgency, assigning tasks to team members, setting timelines and deadlines, making adjustments, and more. 

What Are the Advantages of Task Management?

Companies that apply strong project processes experience a range of benefits. 

Compared to companies that lack mature value-delivery processes, companies with mature processes are more likely to meet their project objectives, stay within their budget limits, and complete projects on schedule. They’re less likely to experience uncontrolled changes to project scope and have a lower project failure rate.

Let’s analyze these stats a bit more closely. 

  • More likely to meet project objectives. Task management makes sure all tasks are aligned with the project’s overall objectives. Teams can ensure that each task contributes directly towards meeting the project goals. 
  • Stay within budget. Teams plan and track all resources for each task. By tracking the expenses of each task, project managers can identify potential budget overruns early and implement strategies to mitigate any financial risk. 
  • Deliver on time. Teams establish clear timelines for each task and monitor progress against these deadlines. If any delays arise, they can be addressed promptly. 
  • Less likely to suffer scope creep. Teams define the scope of each task and manage changes through a structured process. This clarity and control help prevent unauthorized or unmanaged changes to the task scope.
  • Less likely to suffer outright project failure. Teams regularly review and adjust their tasks and communicate daily. These practices make sure potential issues are identified as they arise before they escalate into more serious issues. 

What Are Some Task Management Examples?

Task management can take many forms, depending on the complexity of the project and the tools available. Here are some common examples:

  • To-do lists. The simplest form of task management. It’s often used for managing daily personal tasks or very small projects. 
  • Kanban boards. Kanban boards are a visual task management system that helps track tasks through indifferent stages, like to-do, in progress, and done. 
  • Gantt charts. Gantt charts show tasks over time, their duration, and their dependencies on other tasks. 
  • Time blocking. A task management method where tasks or a group of tasks are assigned specific blocks of time on your calendar. 
  • Checklists. Similar to do-do lists, but are more detailed. They’re used for tasks that require multiple steps to be completed. 
  • Mind maps. Often used for tasks that require brainstorming or creative thinking. They help people organize their thoughts and ideas into structured and actionable tasks. 
teamhood gant chart
Teamhood Gantt Chart

Tips for Choosing the Best Task Management Tool

Let me guess. You’ve searched Google for the best task management tools but ended up scrolling through hundreds of roundup articles and visiting vendors’ websites. Now, you’re feeling overwhelmed by the wide range of options and are dealing with decision paralysis

We’re here to help you make the best choice for you and the team.

  • Understand your needs. The trick to deciding on the best task management system is understanding your specific needs. Once you know what you’re looking for, the right choice is easier to make. 
  • Check for a free plan. The next thing to do is check whether the task management system comes with a free plan or a free trial at least. This step is important, especially if the budget is of concern. A free plan or trial period allows you to test the tool’s features firsthand and determine if it meets your requirements without committing financially. The good news is there are plenty of free task management software tools on the market, like Teamhood, Trello etc.
  • Evaluate the tool’s features. Essential task management functionalities to look for include Kanban boards, task dependencies, Gantt view for project planning, time tracking, and collaboration features. These elements are a must if you want to manage tasks efficiently and promote team collaboration. 
  • Ease of use. An intuitive platform means less time spent on training and more on getting work done. Look for a system that your team can quickly adopt and integrate into their daily routines. You don’t want to spend months just on training the team on how to use the system. 
  • Read online reviews. Once you narrow down to a few options, a smart idea would be to read online reviews and see what users are saying about the team management tools. This might give you an idea of the tool’s strengths and weaknesses. 

One task management tool we’re going to mention is Teamhood. Teamhood is a task and project management software that’s grounded in the Kanban methodology. It comes with a free plan, which means you can use the software for free indefinitely. Once you decide to upgrade, there are four monthly plans you can opt for. 

The software has a gentle learning curve, which means you and your team can be onboarded in less than a week. Teamhood provides various views for task management, including Gantt for long-term planning, List for a detailed task breakdown, and Kanban for daily task execution and prioritization. It also supports time estimation, project tracking, workload visualization, and offers a suite of collaboration features.

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Task Management Skills Managers Should Possess

As much as managers want their projects to succeed, studies show that is rarely the case. 

In fact, 47% of agile projects are late, are over budget, or result in customer unhappiness. What’s more, only 29% of projects are mostly or always completed on time. To make matters worse, 67% of project managers think projects have become more complex over the past decade. 

Maybe you’re an experienced manager who wants to upgrade your skills or someone who has recently progressed into a management position. In either case, these are some of the essential task management skills you should refine in order to manage successful projects: 

  • Prioritization skills, or the ability to give priority to tasks that are more critical. 
  • Delegation skills, or the ability to know when and to whom to assign tasks for optimal productivity.
  • Communication skills, or the ability to keep your team informed and motivated.
  • Planning skills, or the ability to set realistic goals and outline steps to achieve them.
  • Problem-solving skills, or the ability to quickly address and resolve issues as they arise.
  • Adaptability skills, or the ability to be flexible and able to adjust plans as project scopes or deadlines change.
  • Leadership skills, or the ability to inspire and lead a team to achieve project objectives.
  • Attention to detail skills, or the ability to make sure tasks are completed accurately and thoroughly. 
  • Technology proficiency skills, or the ability to use project and task management tools to streamline processes. 
project failures
Source: Finances Online 

How You Can Improve Task Management?

Improving how you manage tasks doesn’t come down to just one method. There are many helpful tips out there, from prioritizing tasks to using software designed to keep everything organized.

Let’s look at some popular ways to get your tasks under control.

Give Your Team Clear Objectives and Expectations

Data from the Project Management Institute (PMI) shows that one of the key indicators of a successful project includes meeting original goals (78%). The high percentage only highlights the importance of setting clear objectives and expectations.

As a project manager, your approach might vary, but generally, you’ll start by creating a detailed plan, and decide what success looks like. You should get everyone involved on the same page about the project’s goals right from the start. Keep coming back to these goals as your project moves forward.

Don’t Shy Away from a Task Management System

Using a task management system streamlines the organization and tracking of tasks. It makes it easier for teams to stay on top of their workloads and deadlines.

For instance, let’s say your team that works on developing a new app adopts Teamhood as their primary task management tool. You can break down the project into phases like design, coding, testing, and launch, with tasks and subtasks clearly outlined and assigned to specific team members.

You can set up dependencies so that tasks are completed in the correct order and manage child tasks under each phase to track detailed progress and make sure that smaller, critical tasks are not overlooked.

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Learn How to Prioritize and Sequence Tasks 

The same PMI data show that “completed within budget” (67%) and “completed on time” (64%) are two other indicators of a successful project. Avoiding these pitfalls is impossible without proper prioritization and sequencing of tasks. 

For example, imagine your engineering team is working on a new software feature. Prioritization, in this case, means you decide that designing the user interface should come first, followed by backend development and then testing. This sequence guarantees work progresses logically, with each phase building on the previous one. Consider using task scheduling software to manage such plans.

Encourage Collaboration and Communication Among Team Members

Did you know that another primary cause of project failure is poor communication (29%)?

With that in mind, you must encourage your team members to collaborate and communicate with each other. This can come in the form of synchronous or asynchronous communication, as both forms have their perks. 

Consider setting up weekly sync meetings with your team to discuss progress, obstacles, and next steps. Meanwhile, async communication could happen through your task management system or a communication tool like Slack. On these platforms, team members can update their task statuses, share documents, and leave feedback at their own pace. 

Don’t Forget to Monitor Progress and Adapt

Another primary cause of project failure is a change in organizational priorities (39%) and a change in project objectives (37%). In other words, if you’re not willing to adapt as priorities and objectives change, chances are the project is doomed to steer off track. 

You can keep an eye on how things are going with your project by using your favorite task management software or by holding daily meetings. To adapt, it’s crucial to maintain flexibility, continuously learn and incorporate new methodologies, establish regular feedback channels, and adopt agile practices for incremental project delivery.

teamhood kanban board
Kanban board

What’s Next?

Looking ahead, the next step is to take these insights and apply them to your own projects. Start small, experiment with different techniques, and find what best suits your team’s needs. Remember, the goal is not just to manage tasks but to do so in a way that brings out the best in your team and leads to successful projects.

Embrace the journey of continuous improvement in task management, and watch as it becomes a key driver in achieving your team’s goals and elevating your projects to new heights.

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