“I totally forgot about it.”
This is a recurring statement used in the workplace. The implications may be minimal if the task in question was simply reserving a table at a restaurant. But how much worse can it be if you haven’t yet started working on a product feature schedule that’s expected to go live in a few hours?
Some people track their tasks using sticky notes. Others in a word or notes app. Both are better options than not having any reminders at all. But how many notes would you need for a large project?
Small business owners need more robust solutions to track pending and ongoing tasks. Task management tools are one-way businesses can streamline their processes and systems.
A task management tool is any method used to organize and rank related activities. It can be a system or software, and manual or automated.
However, task management is more than just scheduling activities. Other uses of it include file sharing, tracking task progress, and file storage. Some task management tools also support real-time collaboration across teams.
Read on to learn the best task management tools for your project or business.
Benefits of using task management tools
According to a recent survey, businesses complete only 55% of their projects on time. One common reason they miss their deadlines is poor task management.
Small businesses stand to benefit from adopting task management tools. Let’s discuss these benefits in detail below.
Support of cross-functional collaboration
Small teams often share information efficiently. The challenge is when dealing with larger teams or complex tasks. Small businesses can use task management tools to facilitate cross-functional collaboration.
Suppose you run a hardware store. Common tasks include receiving customer orders, handling payments, and processing ready orders for delivery. These functions may be handled by one or several workers.
Either way, you need a task management tool to ensure that every step is completed. Otherwise, some paid orders may be left pending and forgotten, leading to customer complaints.
Improved accountability and transparency
Small businesses can also use task management tools for accountability and transparency. Using our example of a hardware store, the business owner can use the tool to assign tasks to various employees. This provides a reliable way for monitoring performance. It becomes easier to identify employees with overdue tasks. For example, you may notice that the worker in charge of payments is yet to process and forward the receipts to the storekeeper.
Task management software helps businesses organize their processes for improved efficiency and performance. One way is to identify tasks that can be completed concurrently. This is very important as it impacts operating costs. For example, it is more cost-effective to group order deliveries based on location or routes.
Where possible, the goods can be loaded on the same truck or van and delivered to the respective customers. This avoids situations like delivering an order across town only to realize that there was a similar order by another customer living around the same area.
Simplified scheduling and task management
Task management tools simplify planning and scheduling.
Some small businesses assume they do not need task management tools because they only handle a few activities at a time. However, even the most routine tasks can skip your mind. A simple mistake like failing to call a client on the agreed date may cost you business.
Small business owners can use these tools and schedule when various activities will be done. You can even integrate it with your Google Calendar to ensure you receive reminders even when away from your desk.
Effective communication and information dissemination
Most task management tools support broadcast communication.
Small business owners can use these tools to update their workers on changes to business operations or practices. For example, you can use the broadcast channel to inform workers that the business will be shifting from physical to digital receipts. You may also attach guidelines and tutorials for generating digital receipts using the POS machine.
Features of a good task management tool
The task management tool you choose will influence your business’s productivity and performance. This means it should complement your business operations and support app integrations.
Below are some essential features of a good task management tool.
Workload visualization is a crucial aspect of task management. It makes it easier for users to see a project’s entire picture, and they can also use it to map and manage task dependencies. A good task management tool should include various project views.
Common task visualization tools include Kanban boards and Gantt charts. Both of these provide timeline views of pending and ongoing projects.
A simple Kanban board, for instance, has three columns: “To-Do,” “Doing,” and “Done.” Small business owners can use this tool to track pending and ongoing activities.
Some visualization tools also support different calendar views.
Small businesses should adopt task management tools with a document management feature. The tool should simplify creating, storing, retrieving, and modifying documents. The document management feature should also match your business needs. Otherwise, you may be forced to continue managing your documents manually, which beats the sense of adopting task management software.
Besides storing the documents, you may also want a tool you can use to create and modify documents. For example, you should be able to create or generate invoices and send them to clients through the task management tool.
Integration with other apps
Pick a task management tool that integrates with other apps your business uses. This allows you to integrate different apps into one system. Most task management tools integrate with software like the Microsoft Office Suite. However, the tools should also be compatible with other apps.
For example, you want software that you can integrate with marketing automation tools. This simplifies sending promotional emails and messages to clients. Also, pick a task management tool that is compatible with Google apps. This allows you to schedule meetings using Google Meet or use Google Sheets when working remotely.
Data and reporting
Reporting is an essential aspect of any project or task management process. Small business owners, for instance, prepare regular reports for various reasons, such as updating stakeholders.
A good task management tool should be able to generate real-time reports. These reports can include task completion rates, pending tasks, and overdue tasks.
Automation is a huge selling point for most task management tools.
Pick a tool that can automatically reorganize your tasks based on schedule changes or certain criteria being met. Using the example of a hardware store, such a business may benefit from process automation. For example, any approved payments should trigger the system to forward the order to the store manager for processing. Similarly, any canceled orders should be archived, followed by the system moving up to the next urgent order.
The 7 best task management tools for your business
There are at least several dozen task management tools available today. However, no two are completely alike.
We’ve narrowed it down to the seven best task management tools that can help you streamline your business operations:
Motion tops the list of the best visual task management tools for businesses. It’s a powerful task management tool comprising both a meeting scheduler and a calendar manager. Not only that, but it doubles as an online task management software.
Motion is AI-driven, which means it automatically organizes your tasks based on their priority.
Motion’s advanced task management features boost teams’ efficiency, especially when handling complex projects or repetitive tasks.
Small business owners can use Motion to create task lists, add task deadlines, break tasks into more detailed to-do lists, and assign roles to team members.
One of Motion’s most helpful features for business owners and project managers is customizable dashboards for detailed project planning.
Other features include the following:
- Access to different project templates
- An intuitive user interface
- Seamless integration with other apps
- Task reminders
- Customizable views
Good for: Businesses of all sizes handling both small and complex projects or tasks.
For individuals: $19 per month (billed annually) or $34 billed monthly
For teams: $12 per user per month (billed annually) or $20 per user billed monthly
Taskworld is a simple task management software that suits businesses of all sizes. It allows users to visualize ongoing projects and track task progress.
One of Taskworld’s standout features is that it supports custom dashboards, allowing users (even those on the same team) to tailor their dashboards to their needs.
Taskworld also supports multiple views. For instance, you can view a task list as a Kanban board, a Gantt chart, or another format.
Finally, Taskworld has an integrated chat feature that facilitates collaboration across different teams and departments. It also supports video calls, which is helpful for teleconferencing.
Good for: Supporting cross-functional collaboration across departments.
Premium plan: $11 per user per month
Business plan: $19 per user per month
Enterprise plan: Pricing plans are calculated on a case-by-case basis
Wrike is a powerful tool for breaking down complex projects into manageable tasks. It supports custom dashboards with automated processes, and users can pin the most important tasks on their to-do lists, marking them as urgent.
Wrike provides free Kanban templates that allow project managers to visualize projects from start to finish. You can also share these boards with other users to give full project visibility to the relevant stakeholders.
This task management tool does not limit you to specific methodologies. It is flexible and can be used with agile or traditional methods.
Good for: Handling complex tasks with many subtasks and dependencies.
Team: $9.80 per user per month
Business: $24.80 per user per month
Enterprise: Pricing plans are calculated on a case-by-case basis
Pinnacle: Pricing plans are calculated on a case-by-case basis
Asana is an effective task management tool for tracking and managing project activities, and its dashboard is easy to understand and navigate. It has custom fields and a drag-and-drop feature, making the creation of task lists easy.
Asana also supports collaboration across teams and departments. Project managers can use the shared hub to create schedules and processes.
This task management tool leverages process automation to reduce admin-related work. Users can automate routine tasks and set process rules, minimizing the need for human input.
Finally, Asana includes customizable templates that users can tailor to their specific sectors.
Good for: Scheduling and tracking tasks and activities.
Basic plan: Free
Premium plan: $10.99 per user per month
Enterprise plan: $24.99 per user per month
Basecamp is an easy-to-use task management software suitable for small businesses or departments that allows unlimited users. It has a customizable dashboard but limited features.
Basecamp users can create Kanban cards to visualize their task lists and processes.
Basecamp facilitates collaboration in several ways. First, project managers can use the message board to update team members. Second, the tool has a chat feature that allows for private conversations between team members.
Basecamp’s standout feature is its billing function. Small business owners can use it to create and share invoices or settle payments.
Good for: Small businesses handling small to moderate projects. May struggle with complex tasks.
Basecamp: $15 per user per month
Basecamp Pro Unlimited: $349 per month (billed monthly) or $299 per month (billed annually) for unlimited users
Monday.com provides a centralized platform for managing project tasks and activities, including project portfolios. It is also suitable for managing multiple projects at the same time.
Monday.com is an effective task-tracking tool, as it allows managers to track both pending and ongoing tasks and identify task dependencies.
Businesses can also use Monday.com to manage their client accounts, as well as the CRM feature to track leads and process orders.
Good for: Businesses looking for a task management tool with a CRM feature.
Basic plan: $8 per seat per month
Standard: $10 per seat per month
Pro: $19 per seat per month
Enterprise: Pricing plans depend on company size
ProofHub is an easy-to-use task management app suitable for both small and large businesses. It allows users to choose their preferred visualization option: the board view, table view, or Gantt view.
Users can customize the dashboard to suit their processes, and project managers can assign custom roles and control access to files and documents.
ProofHub also offers customizable templates, fields, and forms, as well as an advanced time-tracking feature. It allows project managers to track task progress, including the time spent on individual tasks. Other advanced features include timesheets, timers, and real-time reports. You can also export the timesheets and share them with the relevant parties.
Good for: Tracking the time spent on projects, including individual tasks and subtasks.
Essential: $45 per month billed annually for unlimited users
Ultimate Control: $89 per month billed annually for unlimited users
Change how you manage your business with task management tools
It is clear that using sticky notes or notes apps is not a sustainable task management technique. The sticky notes could fall off or you could misplace your phone, stalling your operations for the day.
Task management tools simplify planning, scheduling, and organization. Small business owners can use them to create visual task roadmaps for their projects.
A tool like Motion can help teams improve their process organization. Motion’s calendar feature, for instance, aids in scheduling and tracking important tasks. Motion also has automated workflows that reorganize your schedule according to task urgency.
Small businesses can use Motion to boost accountability and information-sharing, including updates for workers about changes in schedules or roles.