Project management enables teams and companies to successfully bring an undertaking from point A to point B. Project management software is a tool that helps make this attempt done in a more organized and efficient manner. Projects are usually broken down to smaller, more manageable tasks. Tasks are then assigned to teams or individuals who will be responsible and accountable for completing them. Today’s PM tools offer several ways in presenting tasks. Among the most popular are the simple task lists and the modern Kanban boards.
Which is better?
Before we determine the best task management presentation, we have to answer a fundamental question: who is your team? Productivity methodology seems to be a very personal, or team-specific, thing. What works for one might not work for another. Another question to think about is what stage in the project lifecycle are you now?
Task Lists – One at a time
Pros: Task lists are great project planning tools. It is simple and easy to do, which is an important factor when attempting to accomplish anything. Because if a team is tasked to deliver a project, and they are unable to begin simply because doing the first step is too complicated, then that project is doomed from the start.
Task lists enable the project team to identify and itemize tasks. They can break down large tasks into smaller tasks. Teams can also group together related tasks and prioritize easily by bringing an item up or down the list. When displayed in a screen, task lists usually take the whole viewable width, providing most of the needed information. Also, task lists can be easily viewed on mobile devices, where users can just scroll up or down. The simple act of ticking check boxes off individual items when done is efficient.
Cons: PM tools with task lists only are limited when it comes to project tracking. Task lists do not easily show the overall context of the team’s work. When the list is long, users have to go over a great number of items just to get an update of the overall and ongoing effort. And even with colorful labels and tags, lists usually contain many words for reading, which takes the brain a longer time to understand compared to images. Another shortcoming of task lists is when a user assigns a task to multiple assignees, since a list item usually provides 1-to-1 information.
Kanban Boards – Go with the Flow
Pros: Kanban boards are digital cork boards or online whiteboards. They usually have columns which are lists. Inside these columns are individual cards or task items. The difference between a Kanban board and a task list is that the Kanban board can hold several columns or task lists. And teams can organize and arrange these columns so that one column relates to the others. Therefore, it provides a larger picture of the project, showing simultaneous task lists in a visual, brain-friendly way.
Teams can prioritize items the same way in a list. In the task list, high priority items are visible on top, and low ones are well below hidden unless we scroll down. In a Kanban board, users can simply create another column, say Backlog, for low priority items. Moreover, they can easily transfer a task item across to a higher priority column. Aside from the flexibility of creating columns or workflow stages in Kanban boards, another advantage is the pull system. If teams are conscious of the number of work-in-progress (WIP) items per column, they can set a limit to help them focus, and it is easier to pull the next item to work on after they have finished enough tasks.
Cons: For some, the extra dimension of having multiple columns inside a Kanban board can be intimidating. At the start, when teams do not have enough information, a Kanban board might look like an overkill. On the other hand, when it is full of columns and cards, it can also be overwhelming for some. Searching and sorting would be more complicated. For smaller screens, users need to scroll both vertically up and down, and horizontally left and right. This can be harder to look at in mobile devices.
The project management software market offers a great number of choices depending on a team’s requirement. Originally, Asana displayed tasks only via task lists and it has done it well. Trello, up to now, is the most popular Kanban board software, and many PM teams use it.
On the other hand, Bridge24 offers several views in its arsenal, including tabular in Power Grid, Kanban board, and Calendar view. Therefore, it can present project data in several perspectives. Users can easily switch between views, and different users such as different departments across the company can use their preferred view. So, whether you are early in to project planning, or busy monitoring and controlling, Bridge24 is the one project management solution that always works.