If you are a newcomer to the project management world, you would be forgiven for not immediately grasping the difference between task management and project management. After all, both tasks and projects are things that need to get done, and it would be helpful to…manage them. All playfulness aside, the difference between the two concepts can be helpful to understand, especially when considering how to spend your dollars on software.
Put simply, task management is more basic than project management. Where your typical project management app features milestones, Gantt charts, in-depth reporting, and more, task management apps tend to work with to-do lists, file storage, and communication. Put another way, project management is always task management, but task management is not always project management. Kind of a square-rectangle deal.
If you find that your team would benefit from an official to-do list, but don’tÂ want to invest in full-on project management, a task management app might be just what you need. While most of these apps are straightforward, some are easier to use than others. With that in mind, here are the top five easiest task management apps:
ProducteevÂ (read our review) has a bit more to offer than some of the other solutions on this list. This simple app ticks the standard boxes for task management (task lists, etc.), but also allows you to build entire “networks” of projects within your company. It provides a level of organization that extends beyond what is standard in task management, so if you are looking for something a bit complex, this might be the app for you. One important note, before you jump to sign up for Producteev: This app is somewhat lacking in communication tools. While it is true that you can comment on tasks, even using the @ symbol to mention specific team members, there is no dedicated chat feature. For that reason, I have a hard time recommending ProducteevÂ to mobile or remote teams.
On the other hand, Producteev’s pricing is extremely attractive. There are two subscriptionÂ levels: free and $99/month. The difference between the two? Paying subscribersÂ can customize their color scheme, add their own logo, and access dedicated support services with a guaranteed 24-hour response time. Is this worth the cash? It depends. If your team is small, I would try the free version first. If you are working with a larger group, the value of the subscription increases. In the end, of course, the decision rests with you.
I have written several posts that discuss Squidhub (read our review) in the last few months. Simply put, I like this app a lot; it jives well with how I personally work, and does so with possibly the cutest mascot in the business world. (That’s a bold claim, I know, but just look at that adorable little guy). Squidhub’s simple, single-page UI, and focus on task management and communication exemplify the qualities of a good task management app. However, some may find the simplicity of Squidhub a little limiting.
One of the best things about Squidhub is that it feels complete even at its free subscription level. Actually, for the moment, the free plan is the only option for Squidhub users. However, the company has recently revealed (on the Squidhub pricing page) that higher subscription levels will soon be available. If you have room to play in your budget, some of those new options may be worth considering — particularly the Business plan, which will allow users to build templates for task lists.
ClickUpÂ (read our review) is so easy to use that you may start to wonder how its competitors even stay in business. With features that sometimes emulate true project management (time tracking, workspaces, project views, etc), it feels as though there is little this app can’t do. In fact, if I had a criticism, it might be that ClickUp is trying too hard. When you first log in to the app, you get a pop-up asking you to name other project management apps you have used so they can “tailor the experience” a bit more to your needs. While this could easily be a genuine goal, it also feels a bit, well, braggy.
And there are so many other things ClickUp could brag about! Not the least of which is price. Like the three prior options I have covered here, ClickUp has an excellent free version that will leave you wondering how the company behind the app, Mango, is making any profit. If you want a little more file storage space, as well as onboarding services, you could choose to pay $5/user/month. The benefit of that extra cost is really going to depend on your specific circumstances. If you are already paying for cloud-based file storage, you may not find the subscription necessary. On the other hand, onboarding is one of the biggest challenges of a new business service app, so that five dollar fee might pay for itself right in the first month.
Trello (read our review) is one of those programs that is always easy to recommend. This app, the originator of the increasingly popular board view, is simple yet effective. Capable of pretty advanced task management, Trello is also (dare I say it?) fun. Sure, you can pack your boards and cards with relevant information, assigning tasks to different team members with deadlines and more, but you can also activate the Pirate (!) powerup that turns your cards into crinkly old treasure maps if you haven’t touched them in awhile. You can also put “stickers” on your boards; my personal favorite is the smiling face of a husky dog — the company mascot, Taco.
Like most of the apps I am covering here today, Trello offers its best features for free. If you want a bit more customization or file storage — or even more advanced power-ups — you can pay up to $20/user/month.Â Honestly, though, I don’t personally see these things as worth the cost (unless a specific power-up is extra important to you).
I am not sure what it is with simple task management apps and cute logos, but it is at once a fantastic and disturbing trend. Basecamp 3Â (read our review) is, in some ways, the most advanced app on my list today, edging into the world of true project management in ways not even ClickUp has managed. Yes, the core of Basecamp 3 is task management and communication. But this app also boasts more advanced reporting capabilities and automated reminders. For that reason, Basecamp is a bit more versatile than some of the other options I discussed above.
Having said that, that versatility literally comes at a price. Whereas the four apps above function beautifully for free, Basecamp 3 goes for $99/month. For that reason, this might not be the best app for you if you are working with a tight budget or on a small team. On the other hand, if your team has more than 10 people, Basecamp 3 becomes one of the best values in the project or task management worlds.
There is a wide array of options when it comes to simple, easy-to-use task management apps. Much of the decision of which to use will come down to your specific situation. The base-level simplicity of Trello or Squidhub may appeal to some while the more advanced features of ClickUp or Producteev will be more in line with the needs of others. And businesses looking for a kind of hybrid task-and-project management app might want to go with Basecamp 3.
The nicest thing about any of these apps is that they are easy to try. Since most of them are free, there is no downside to giving them a test drive; even Basecamp offers a generous 30-day trial. With that in mind, go ye forth and manage your tasks!
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