Project management vs. task management may sound similar to newbies, but they differ for project management pros.
Yes, projects and tasks are commonly interchanged because both concepts relate to work management—except that one encompasses a more extensive scope than the other.
Understanding how project management vs. task management are different yet work hand-in-hand to achieve a particular goal is an important step in productivity and efficiency.
In particular, project and task management systems have appeared over the years to help managers organize, delegate, and sort out a complex work system.
Before we discuss these project management and tasks management systems, let’s first discuss the difference between projects and tasks.
Projects Vs. Tasks
Let’s say you’re at a school festival, and you’re in charge of organizing a successful major concert event for the last day. In this situation, the project is the major concert event, and the tasks are what it takes to make it a success.
Simply put, tasks are stepping stones—broken down by individual to-do’s that make up a project.
In this case, the project being the major concert means that the tasks may (or may not) include:
- Signing contracts for performers for the concert
- Preparing banners and stage designs
- Organizing crowd control and seat allocations for the audience
- Making sure sound systems are set and working
- Create and distribute concert tickets
Projects managers ensure that projects see their success by overseeing or having someone else handle the tasks at hand.
While projects are often a big overarching event or result, tasks are relatively more manageable. To define the functions of a project, managers need to identify what is the project’s scope and create tasks based on that scope.
They all go hand in hand or are dependent on one another. You cannot start some tasks without finishing another task, and a project cannot be completed without finishing all pending tasks.
Projects need not necessarily be something as big as a festival. A bookkeeper who often uses project management software for bookkeepers could have the project of producing a monthly cash flow report, and its first task is to encode cash receipts and disbursements into the register.
David Aylor, Founder & CEO of David Aylor, says,
“Managers shouldn’t confuse projects with tasks. A project’s success is based on the task’s successes. Whether there are five or fifty tasks for a project, managers must oversee each task’s progress for the project’s success.”
Project Management Vs. Task Management
Now that we know what projects and tasks are let’s discuss project management vs. task management. How are they the same, and how are they different?
In project management, managers must identify and work within a project’s scope. The project scope may include the project details, deadlines, and all things involved with the project, from planning to execution to results.
Managers should also consider the expectations and priorities, workforce, costs, work delegations, and resources needed to organize projects efficiently.
Task management, on the other hand, is part of project management. When you have work (or tasks) delegated in project management, these tasks are managed in a smaller scope through task management.
Task management may include the execution to achieve desired results of a specific task concerning the project goals. In task management, you don’t necessarily need to look at the project as a whole.
Because project managers already break these tasks down, task managers must make sure that these specific tasks are achieved based on the goals project managers have set.
Tasks can also be outsourced. For example, if a writer is outsourced to create a blog on email marketing, the writers tasked with this don’t necessarily need to know the scope of the whole project. Tasks can be individually done by staff members of the organization, overseen by task managers who then report to project managers.
How are they similar and different?
Project management and task management are similar in that they are both management procedures set to achieve a specific goal. Both follow a strict set of ideas, steps, and assignments to reach a desired output or outcome, no matter the scope.
Within these similarities lies the difference between project management vs. task management as follows:
The scope of project management is more significant than that of task management. Tasks are simply components of projects and serve as building blocks of project management.
The budget, resources, workforce, and direction on tasks come from project management directives because project management embraces all the aspects of management—from planning to execution.
For example, a project will involve the planning and research of the installation of new manufacturing equipment (as shown below) and will manage its execution. The execution includes task management, making the scope of task management smaller than projects as they aim only to satisfy or complete a portion of the whole project.
To further expound on the scope of projects and their corresponding task, here are several examples:
|A manufacturing company installing new manufacturing equipment to expedite production.||Workers assigned to ensure the safety protocols of the installation.|
|A grocery store coming up with Christmas sale promotions.||Sales associates tasked with creating Christmas decorations for the event.|
|An entertainment agency launching a new artist.||Stylists tasked with creating the most appealing look for the artist.|
|High school students conducting a feasibility study on a rainwater collection system.||Group member tasked with creating a 3D house model for the rainwater collection system.|
|An accounting office purchasing a new accounting software.||Accounts receivable staff assigned with encoding employee accounts of employees into the new system.|
In terms of workforce, projects need a more diverse and more significant number of people. Tasks can involve tens to hundreds of people to tackle all areas of project management, which a project manager then spearheads.
There can also be a hierarchy of positions in project management depending on how the project is assigned and delegated among the members.
For example, suppose a project manager oversees the operations of the entire project. In that case, they can have assistant project managers for the planning, execution, procurement, or logistics, depending on the project’s scope.
On the other hand, task management is usually handled by very few people or can even be handled by one. These tasks can be assigned under assistant project managers or reported directly to project managers.
The members assigned to a task usually don’t have people under them, as they do the actual execution of labor. For example, we always create a task of creating the cover images for our in-house designers while setting up the content publication project for each month:
This way, they can plan their work accordingly and submit the cover images on time.
Projects are bigger in scale; thus, a project may be grouped or divided into several tasks. In this case, projects are highly dependent on tasks. You can achieve the success of a project when all its tasks are accomplished without problems.
Meanwhile, a finished task is done and completed by itself, even though, in several instances, you may need to finish one task before moving on to another. This is when a task or a task manager is dependent on the completion of another task when sections of the project need to be done consecutively.
For example, while publishing this blog, we had to make sure that previous articles in this category are published so that our content timeline doesn’t get affected. For that, we simply set the dependency on the previous task for each article in our content calendar:
This way, the next supporting article can only be published when previous dependencies are closed.
Projects usually require a bigger scale in terms of resources like budget, time, and resources. The bigger the scale, the bigger the allocation. On the other hand, tasks are allocated smaller parts of the budget and workforce and are usually completed in a shorter period.
Despite the difference in the resources needed, it is important to note that because tasks are part of a project, these tasks’ resources also come from the resources allocated to the whole project.
According to Catherine Schwartz, Finance Editor of Crediful,
“It is imperative that project managers know how to delegate tasks and their resources properly and effectively. These resources, whether workforce or costs are limited in nature, given the inflating prices of commodities and salaries today and in the coming years. Project managers must see the bigger picture and identify the proper allocation of resources to get the most valuable outcome at the most minimal cost.”
Benefits of using Project and Task Management Software
Team collaboration, organization, and delegation efficiency are just reasons managers should consider using project and task management software. But before anything else, let’s break down what this software does and how they benefit managers in the long run.
Benefits of using project management software vs task management software
Project managers aren’t only assigned one or two projects at a given time. Most of the time, each project manager handles several projects, varying in scale and scope.
The best agile project management software are designed to help project managers organize and allocate resources and workload for a specific project. It allows the project manager and its members in:
- Collaborative planning. A well-oiled project flow starts with good collaboration and sharing of ideas from the members. Project management software allows collaborative planning in one platform to enable team members worldwide to input ideas for the project’s success.
- Tracking project status. Project management software allows users to choose the status’ project. This helps team members know how far the project has gone and how long it takes to complete it.
- Task management. An essential component of project management software is its platform’s ability to manage tasks. With task management features, project managers can allocate tasks and resources to team members in an organized manner to avoid confusion and make the workload allocation visible (or not visible) to the rest of the team.
- Scheduling, calendar, and time management. An effective project management software should allow team members to create a calendar of activities and schedule meetings that are easily visible to everyone.
- Time tracking. A time tracking feature is an efficient tool to use for project managers that are already a part of the project management software. This helps keep track of the hours worked for the project, each specific task, and the hours worked by each member at a given period.
- Communication. Project management software allows members to communicate within the platform as a whole or by task.
- Documentation. You can also upload and organize files using project management software to keep all your resources visible to the rest of the team members.
Benefits of using Task management software vs project management software
Task management software helps users and members streamline, prioritize and organize tasks related to a specific project. As a subset of project management, the functions and features of task management software are essentially the same as project management software.
- Easy collaboration. With a one-stop platform, project managers can easily assign and monitor tasks assigned to members without emailing them one by one.
- Prioritization. Task management software includes a feature to indicate the priority of tasks. This helps members know which tasks need to be done first. If the workload volume seems dizzying for the team members, the prioritization feature will help them stay focused and organized with one task at a time.
- Focus. If there are too many tasks for a specific project, a task management tool helps members focus on one goal or task at a time. As Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, once said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant, a bite at a time.”
How to become more productive using project and task management software
Jeff Zhou, CEO of Fig Loans, said,
“Proper planning, collaboration, time tracking, and calendar organization is the most effective way to get the most out of a project’s resources. When these resources are properly used, backed by a project manager’s ability to keep things organized, a project’s road to success is bound to be easy.”
The most effective project managers would not only see to it that the project is completed but that it is completed with the utmost effectiveness and efficiency using the least possible cost and resources.
This is why project managers use only the best collaboration tools, like project management and task management software, to get the best out of all the team members’ time and skills.
So, how do project and task management software help team members become productive?
Project planning and scheduling
If there’s anything that kicks off the success of a project, it’s how and when a project is planned and scheduled. Streamlining processes either in Gantt charts, calendars, or list views helps all team members stay organized.
Easy access and collaboration
An effective collaboration tool like management software eliminates the need for third-party apps like emails or chatting software. Project management tools make it easier for all team members to share contacts, files, and ideas in a flash, either as a whole or by task. This eventually saves more time spent by team members looking for files and chat discussions otherwise spent on other platforms.
Giving team members an insight into a project or a task’s progress is important to keep morale and efficiency up. Project and task management software that shows real-time progress flow or status will help project leaders assess the risks associated with not completing the project or specific tasks by a specified time or the benefits of being ahead of schedule.
This will eventually help project managers in the decision-making process for the project’s success.
Project Management vs. Task Management: Which one to choose and when?
Project management is a tool used to oversee projects through a more comprehensive lens, encompassing all the aspects of the project from planning to execution. Meanwhile, task management software handles and organizes the work on a smaller scale, ensuring members assigned to a task can focus on one task at a time.
The only difference that both have is their scope. To be honest, their benefits and features are most likely to intertwine with one another if you’re looking for project management or task management software.
There is a lot of project and task management software in the market, but one that does both will allow you to become more productive at all levels of the organization. One example of management software that handles projects and tasks effectively is Nifty.
Nifty is a one-stop app that unites teams, goals, and actions in one software. What Nifty does is it:
- Sets a visual timeline for your project goals as a whole and automates progress as tasks are completed.
- Creates a more practical task management tool by organizing, prioritizing, and tracking daily work and tasks through Kanban, Lists, Timeline, Calendar, and Swimlane views, whichever makes team members find it more easily.
- Allows collaboration and communication through chat and email in one platform, ensuring ideas and thoughts are pitched, and feedback is given and taken in an organized manner.
- Allows users to create documents and notes that are easily shareable and can even be integrated with Google docs.
- Shows automated progress status either by open project, task, or tag, allowing users to have a bird’s eye view of the whole project.