With the trends toward outsourcing, telecommuting and cloud computing, it's become more important than ever to keep project teams on track and communicating easily. Email is simply not up to the task of project management. Task management software, on the other hand, not only lets managers delegate specific assignments but also creates a cloud-stored project base where the entire team can see the steps needed for completion, track progress, load and collaborate on files, and communicate with each other within the project. With mobile and computer-based interfaces and cloud storage, task manager software makes it easy to keep the team in the loop and on track to make your next big project a success.
All of the programs on our list have task delegation tools and collaboration features that make them suitable for program management in small or large businesses or other organizations. Each has additional features that made it stand out. For example, with Todoist, you can set reminders not only by time, but also by location, making it handy for companies who have projects whose parts are in multiple locations. A couple applications include a rewards system for giving quick kudos, while some have Gantt charts for visualizing timelines and core processes. Nearly all of these come with a free version, but the paid versions have more features and allow for greater interaction among team members.
Nonetheless, the products listed here are simpler versions targeted at project completion rather than full-out project and employee management. A few, such as hiTask, also have timers and accounting features like the ability to record billable hours. However, if you need a truly robust system that includes budgeting, request management, portfolio management, and employee scheduling and tracking, check out our online project management reviews.
Task Management Software: What to Look For
Each business has different processes and thus different needs for a task management solution. However, regardless of whether you create in-depth marketing for a client or design custom bicycles, you need software that lets you communicate easily, tracks your progress, holds important documents and responds to collaborators and clients. Thus, you should consider these aspects when evaluating a task manager program:
No matter how many exciting tools a task management program has, it's worthless unless everyone can use it. The best software is easy to work, with the most common tasks readily available, plain-language scheduling, and clear menus and search functions. Most have a simple to-do list/project organization, but some have different approaches. DropTask, for example, employs a mind-mapping approach that is colorful and visually appealing. Several, like Basecamp, can store projects as templates, so that if you have specific products you create again and again, you can call up the template rather than reinventing it.
Several, like Asana, allow you to not only have a team section for assigning tasks but also a personal section for errands and home projects. This not only allows you to clear your mind of tasks that need to be done later, but it also keeps them in one central interface so you don't have to switch programs or lists between work and home.
Task & Reminder Setting
Task creation, delegation and reminders are the core of any program, so look for the interactivity and convenience tools that best suit your needs. Some, like DropTask, let you tie a task to multiple projects so when you cross off one task, you see the project's progress toward completion. Mavenlink lets you set alerts so that if a task is dependent on the completion of another task, the person responsible gets pinged when the required item is completed.
Workboard takes tasks and projects one step further by aligning them to company goals and metrics. That way, employees see how their daily action items contribute to the overall health of the company as a goal.
Collaboration with Employees & Customers
Most productivity experts say the key to effectively managing your time is to delegate tasks. You can find plenty of articles about choosing which tasks are best to delegate and how to motivate your employees and coworkers. Team task management tools help you practice those principles. They let you create tasks, assign them to others, set deadlines and include notes. They store all the necessary electronic materials, such as files, charts, images and videos, in the project or task itself so things are easy to find and access.
The best task management software should also provide ways to communicate among team members, and some allow communication outside the team. Producteev, for example, allows you to set followers who do not have editing capability but can see the team progress and participate in conversations. Flow uses a unique function similar to Facebook's Like button so people can acknowledge they have read a notification without having to comment on it.
Reports & Status Updates
While all task management software tracks project completion, businesses need more: a way to send status updates managers or clients, report generation tools to display overall progress and identify stopgaps, and charts that show deadlines and the relationships between tasks. Most of the software we profiled have some form of reporting, and a few have several report types plus export features so you can use the graphics and data when presenting to a client or briefing at your monthly update meeting. In fact, some of the companies we looked at suggest that with these tools, bosses can generate the reports at will and forego the meeting altogether.
Integration with Other Software & Mobile Devices
Experts say that one issue with mobile devices is that people always feel pinned to their job, receiving pings about this or that task while they're unable to do anything about them. This is because often the tools they need are locked in the office computer, or the individual needs a specific program or contact they don’t have on hand. By keeping everything stored in the project itself, task management software allows you to get the information you need to finish urgent tasks or to create or pass on a reminder to complete the action item the next business day.
Since the goal of task management software is to have everything needed for a project in a central location all collaborators can access, it's important that it works with third-party programs. Nearly all have functionality with Google programs like Gmail and Google Drive, but many integrate with Outlook, Dropbox, Evernote, and the best integrate with the most-used business software like QuickBooks and Salesforce. Wrike, in particular, is a powerhouse with 35 integrations.
Email collaboration is losing its efficiency in the cloud-based and increasingly mobile business environment. Task management software meets the needs of modern businesses by providing an easy-to-use and widely accessible platform for planning and collaborating on projects. With the right software, your company can save time, improve the quality of its work and make your customers happier.
Asana's website says, "Run your day, your team and your company." This task management software can work for personal task management, but its larger focus and company-oriented tools make it better suited for project management on a team level. It syncs across computers and mobile devices and integrates with many third-party programs to create a versatile system.
Like all task management apps, Asana lets you set up tasks, organize them into lists or projects, set due dates and assign them to others. It has a search feature to let you find tasks by task name, project or people involved. You can also add tags to any project to make grouping and searches easier.
In the My Tasks feature, you can create tasks for yourself and see those assigned to you by others. You can also assign priorities in order to organize your day. If you are on your email and come across something you need to remember or have someone else take care of, you can assign a task on Asana through the email.
Asana also has a conversation feature so that you can discuss a task within the task itself instead of in an email chain or other unassociated program. This makes sure conversations, instructions and files are all kept with the task they relate to, making it easier for you or your teammates to have all the information right at hand.
This software has a calendar function for seeing your tasks by the week or month. The dashboard tool gives teams and supervisors a high-level view of projects, tasks and priorities. If you need to put any of the information into different forms, such as a Gantt chart to track program progress and projections, you can integrate Asana with the Instagantt app. In fact, this task management software integrates with 37 other apps and programs from calendars to customer support software like Zendesk to email programs in case you just can't escape the email. With Zapier, you can forge connections to other apps as well.
The price for Asana varies by how many users you want to integrate. You'll find a sliding price bar on the website or can contact the company if your business has over 100 employees.
Asana is a robust program with strong project-management features. Thus, it's a better choice for those seeking task management software for teams of businesses. However, it does sync across multiple platforms and can work for family or personal use.
Basecamp's task management program strives to organize the chaos that can come from having a multi-faceted project with many tasks shared by multiple people. It allows you to create project templates you can reuse, set tasks, add files and track progress. It integrates with other apps to sync with Outlook, and it works on both iPhone and Android operating systems.
The homepage, or dashboard, lets you see each project in a list, and you can mark the most important ones to show as large graphics at the top of the list. This feature can help if you have many irons in the fire, but only a few that currently need your attention. There's also a calendar tab for deadlines and other important events as well as vacation notifications.
Clicking on a project takes you to the discussion and task section. Adding a task takes just a few clicks, and you can assign it to someone and set a deadline either when creating the task or later. You can also open a task to add notes, upload files, and notify people by typing in their email address or clicking on their name if they are involved in the project. You can also send files to a specific task via email or over your mobile device.
You can make templates for recurring projects. However, you cannot make recurring tasks or repeating deadlines. Templates can be modified for individual projects from within the project.
Basecamp has 20 different apps, but most are just different ways of running the program on your phone. There are a couple that add functionality, such as generating reports or syncing with Outlook. Neither the program nor its apps let you track time spent on a task, however.
You can find useful help features, including how-to videos and live lessons on using the program. There are FAQs and help guides, and you can contact support by an online contact form or through Twitter.
Basecamp's use as a personal task management solution is a bit limited. Its strength lies in its ability to efficiently manage all of the to-dos, conversations and files for medium to large business work teams. It has a calendar, project template ability and a flexible task system. It's easy to add people either to a project or a conversation. You can also use it on a smartphone to take work with you.
DropTask is a great task management software application for people who are visually oriented. Rather than displaying the usual lists or calendars employed by other such programs, it uses a mind-mapping style with brightly colored circles to house projects, and tasks and lines to show you how tasks interact with each other. It's not as easy to look at on smartphones, but nonetheless has some useful features, especially for teams.
This task management tool creates more than to-do lists. The mind-map style allows you to put small tasks inside bigger projects and to show relationships between tasks so that you can see how accomplishing one item influences the progress of other projects. The unique interface puts tasks in circles, and those circles inside larger project circles. You can drag and drop circles into other circles and to group circles as well. Within a task circle, you have tabs with the icons of the people assigned to it, the due date, flags for priorities, importance and other attributes, and the files or notes attached to the tasks.
In addition, you can have arrows to link related tasks. For example, say you want to make a cake for a party. The cake is listed in the Party project, but the shopping is in the Errands for Friday project. With the link, you can put the ingredients you need to get from the shopping list and link it to the cake in the party project. It's also good feature when delegating tasks, because people can see how their efforts impact the bigger picture. This feature, called Task Dependencies, is only available with the Pro version.
As with most task management software, DropTask lets you assign due dates and priorities, and delegate to someone else. In addition, you can set the status (whether it's stopped, paused, in progress, and, of course, completed), its importance to the project and the projected effort required to complete the task. These extra tools can help you in planning your day. For example, if you know your most productive times are in the morning, you may want to start your day doing an important task that takes a lot of effort rather than an easy task that's marked as a priority but which you can quickly complete in the afternoon.
The large circles aren't as easy to see on a small screen, like with a smartphone, and some people prefer a more straightforward list rather than the colorful mind map. DropTask can convert to a traditional view for linear viewing by date or priority, and back to the mind-map to see the holistic view.
Both the free and Pro version integrate with Outlook, but the Pro version has other features, such as unlimited file attachments and project templates, so you can save a project format to use again. The Pro version also integrates with Evernote, Google Tasks and Calendar, and iMindMap.
DropTask provides a visual and fluid way to organize your tasks and set up projects. It lets you set priorities and due dates, but also has tools for noting the task's importance and the effort it requires. These can help you plan your day to make the most of your high-energy times. You can use it with teams or for yourself.
Flow task management software has more of a team focus than an individual one. While it allows for the usual setting of tasks and deadlines, it has several features geared toward collaboration.
As with most task management programs, Flow has tools to let you create tasks and subtasks. You can set dates, priorities and reminders, and sync with your computers and mobile devices. It also has a calendar view, which some task management programs don't offer. Calendar tools are handy for planning the week and getting an overview on what to expect in the near future. From the calendar view, you can drag and drop tasks to different days.
Its team management tools take it beyond simple assign-and-track. You can upload files to share and attach them to a task. Conversations can likewise attach to a specific project or task. In addition, they can be seen real time and employ the "Like" feature similar to Facebook. That way, people who just need to acknowledge that they read a comment can "Like" it without replying. You can assign projects to an entire team or just to particular individuals. The sort function lets you arrange tasks by priority, project, person or keyword, making it easy to find the tasks you need and determine their status.
In addition, you can organize the project into sections using Kanban boards, a workflow visualization tool. With this feature, you make subsections in the project, such as Researching, In Progress, In QA and Complete and then drop tasks into the appropriate section. This helps you quickly spot priorities and bottlenecks.
If you need to keep someone outside your team updated on a particular project, you can assign them notification status. That way, you can keep your client abreast of the progress on his project without letting him or her in on all the background and details. Flow uses SSL encryption and PCI Level 1 compliance to keep your data secure. This is the same level of security that online merchants use to protect credit card transactions and other personal data.
Should you need a record of your activities, you can download a copy of your Flow account. You can export specific project lists, such as a PDF, CSV or HTML file or the entire account as an XML file. This makes it handy should you need to build reports on your progress for your client or the accounting department, or to crunch numbers on project work hours.
Flow task management software is better suited for small teams rather than individuals. While it can do the usual to-do list functions and has a handy calendar view, its collaboration and integration tools make it well suited for small teams working on projects. It offers secure data storage and the ability to provide notifications to people outside the project team, letting you keep clients and managers informed of your team's work without giving them access to the workaday details.
HiTask's task management software contains the key elements of any good project management system, including team assignments, organizational capabilities and email interface. It also uses drag-and-drop features and integration with Google mail and tasks as well as some common programs like Wufoo.
You can create a task within the program by clicking on New Task and filling in the information, including tags and color-coding. This program lets you send an email to hiTask to make a task. You can even assign tasks to a specific project, add tags and set a date by using codes in the subject line or putting special markers in the body of the email itself.
Within the program, the drag-and-drop capability makes it easy to manipulate tasks across several functions. Once you create a task, you can place it under a project, drop it under an existing task to create a subtask, move it to the calendar to set an appointment, or drag it to one of your teammates in the right-hand column to delegate the task to him or her. As a result, you can learn the interface quickly and won't need to click around as much or hunt through the menu for the most common tasks.
You can track time with the task timer or make notes of the time spent on a project. These logs can be exported to make reports for accounting. You can generate progress reports by time, project or single task within the program itself.
The calendar syncs with Google calendars or with other calendars your team uses. It also allows you to create tasks in Gmail by starring messages. Additionally, you can create tasks through Google tasks, Gmail labels or when a GitHub or Bitbucket issue is created. If you have specific form of software such as Wufoo, you can create tasks when you receive a form submission as well.
HiTask offers plans for personal or team use. The team plan has a free trial, then a monthly fee, while the personal plan only charges if you want to use more than 10 projects.
This task manager has a simple interface and good functionality, including integration with Google and other programs and the ability to create tasks via email. The drag-and-drop function is well employed to make the program intuitive and easy to learn.
Mavenlink is feature-intense task management software that goes way beyond tasking and communication to include recording billable hours, generating reports, even creating Gantt charts. As such, it's well suited for businesses that have complex projects that involve shifting deadlines and employees on contract or who bill hours to a client.
When you set up a project, you can assign people to it, including giving individuals specific permissions and access to particular information. The projects have numerous detail fields to fill out, from deadlines to billables, and you can add your own custom fields, such as client contact information. Within the project, you can add tasks and subtasks. You can save the project as a template to modify and reuse.
Within the project, people can mark their progress, record hours, upload files or attach Google Drive files, and communicate on issues. People can view messages either in a long newsfeed similar to Facebook or by project. The use of @name lets posters call out a particular person who needs to see the message. You can search by project, uploader, message and other key topics.
If you have a project with a floating start date, you can set relative dates for individual to-do items; for example, Task A must be completed seven days after the project start date. You can also create dependencies between tasks, so that if Task B cannot start until Task A is finished, you get a notice to start Task B as soon as A is marked as complete. It includes a Gantt chart tool to map the flow of a project and see its dependencies and critical path.
Managers can track and approve hours for projects through the timesheet function. On the accounting side, you can set up rate cards for employees to correctly bill time, to project revenue and expenses, and create invoices tied to the project's tasks, deliverables and milestones.
This task manager software is compatible with several major business programs, such as Microsoft Office, Salesforce and QuickBooks. You can create Mavenlink issues from Zendesk, and JIRA issues from Mavenlink. It has a Chrome extension and is optimized for mobile phones.
Producteev is a little more expensive than some of the other task management software applications, but it allows for up to 100 users and unlimited projects. It also has features well suited for businesses needing to manage many projects across multiple departments. It integrates with Outlook and Dropbox, and it lets you export projects to a CVS file for use in other software.
The interface is geared for businesses rather than personal use. There is a section for designing your network where you can organize your projects, tasks and collaborators. In addition to assigning tasks to people, you can assign followers to the task, such as the immediate manager or the client of the product. These people can see the progress but aren't involved in the actions of the task themselves. You can engage people in conversation on a task by adding @name.
The task-creation feature works like most: You can create the task and add single or recurring deadlines, labels and comments. You can set dates using the calendar function. You can also set reminders and view task timelines by clicking the Activity link. Anyone assigned to the task can add files by uploading them from their computer or mobile device, Box or Dropbox. You can add these pieces of information using the menu, the shortcut commands or, if on a mobile device, the touchscreen menu.
Tasks are searchable by keyword, or you can use the drop-down menu to filter tasks by labels, status or priority. You can view an audit trail of a project to see its history, including the actions and conversations concerning each task. You can also export a task as a CVS file for use in other software or reports.
This task manager software integrates with Outlook. Not only can you turn an email into a task, but you can incorporate Producteev tasks into your Outlook calendar so you can have one calendar for all your tasks and appointments. If using other email programs, you can turn an email into a task by forwarding it to the appropriate task via firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find a simple but illustrated user guide online. The support section uses community-based forums rather than chat or email. If you have more than 100 users, Producteev can develop a plan for you.
Todoist comes in three levels: Free, Premium and Business. The Premium and Business versions let you set labels and filters for active searches, allow for file uploads and have template-creation ability for projects. The Business version has team management capability, including billing and tracking of logins. Premium users can share projects with up to 25 people, while the Business plan allows for 50. However, it can be a different 25 or 50 people with each project.
From the dashboard, you can create individual tasks or projects with tasks and subtasks. You can have subtasks up to four indent levels with the Premium and Business versions. With the email app on Outlook, Gmail or Thunderbird, you can add tasks directly from an email.
From the task itself, you can make assignments, set a priority and add a due date. Due dates are especially easy because you can set a single or recurring date using plain language such as "Monday at 8 a.m." or "every first Monday at 8 a.m." The software has tools to color-code tasks or projects and set labels and tags to make it easy to find. You can also add priorities, both via the dashboard or with the !! code. For example, !!1 makes a task priority 1.
You can set reminders to be sent by email or SMS. This task manager also offers location-dependent reminders. This is a great feature for when you have errands that aren't time dependent, such as picking up something from a specialty store. It's also useful for reminding yourself to do something once you get to the office after leaving an off-site meeting or business lunch. Location-aware reminders can be managed from any platform, including Outlook, but trigger to your mobile device.
You can add files or photos to the tasks. Photos can be added straight from your phone using the Todoist app. You can also use the app to send photos to others on a project. Todoist also has the ability to have conversations within a task.
For those who like to track their productivity, Todoist Karma is a visual tracking system that monitors your task management activities and displays your productivity trends.
Workboard's team task management software does more than create projects and tasks: You can set short-term goals and define metrics for success. Employees can see the progress toward each goal as they complete tasks. This lets your company move beyond simple Done/Not Done task management and look at quality and overall impact to the company mission.
You can set individual tasks and align them to projects and goals. It's also easy to reassign work or change deadlines, as the software will sync the new information for you.
In addition, Workboard's task management tools allow employees to set their own goals and align them to those of the company and team. Employees can see quarterly goals, monthly management priorities, and their weekly and daily tasks. They can also see how these items all align, helping individuals to make informed decisions on how to schedule their day.
The software automates status reporting so that managers don't need to ping everyone individually for updates. Managers can compile these reports into one team report.
Managers can get reports on employee engagement, performance and alignment to goals, which helps them provide timely, fact-based feedback employees can use. It also has a kudos program with badges and opportunities for feedback.
You can use Workboard for meetings as well. This task manager program lets you create agendas, incorporating team action items and sharing them with others. As you make decisions in the meeting, you can immediately turn them into tasks and assign them. You can also send a meeting summary to everyone via email, so even people who could not attend are kept in the loop.
Workboard has three levels: The free program has the basic project and task management features, plus report tools. The Elite Manager plan includes the goals, progress heat map, team and one-on-one meetings, and a document library. The Elite Organization has these features, plus goal coaching, domain and IT policy support, training and concierge onboarding.
Workboard's website includes a blog with articles on business and team management that are worth checking out even if you don’t purchase the software. It does not, however, have a help and support section or online user guide.
Wrike offers task management software that allows for project development and templates, storage of files and communication, and reports on timelines and project status. In addition, it lets you edit documents on the software itself, synchronizes among multiple calendars and has 35 integrations.
This task manager program allows you to create projects and reuse the project template by duplicating it to a different name. Wrike also offers four basic templates covering the usual steps for product development, an approval process, a marketing plan or a general project. You can add custom fields to any task or project to match your business needs.
You can assign tasks to different people, and if you transfer an existing task to someone else, the new person still has access to the history. Collaborators can also see how tasks influence each other, helping them understand how their contribution pushes the project forward. Conversations can be directed using the @mention function.
A unique function of Wrike is the document editor. Rather than uploading and downloading the same file as different people edit it or going to a third-party source like Google Docs, you can edit a document right within the software. Collaborators can see changes in real time.
You can create charts to visualize a project, including Gantt charts to track timelines and core processes, baseline charts to see how tasks schedule out, and performance charts to see the progress by task and individual.
This task management software application integrates with 35 different programs and formats. It works on Android or iPhone systems. Its email integrations work with multiple programs and allow you to create tasks from the email program itself with the click of a button. It also integrates with common business platforms like Salesforce and QuickBooks. It works with CRM and instant messaging platforms and file storage systems.
Wrike has three plans: The free plan offers the most basic functions. The Professional one allows up to 15 users and has most of the tools, while the Enterprise version can be configured for thousands of users and offers extended security and customization tools.