Some teams need to create one-off to-do lists, others need to create recurring tasks. Some need to track time on tasks, others need to track velocity.
If you’re evaluating products based on the vendor offering overarching “task management” without digging into their specific features, you could seriously miss the mark. If a tool and a team are mismatched, at best you should expect unhappy users—and at worst, a failed implementation.
Small businesses can’t afford either.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Task Management Feature Comparison
The table below compares the out-of-the-box* task management features for the top products from each quadrant on our PM FrontRunners. This comparison can show you the similarities and differences between solutions so you can find the features that best match your workflow.
|Import tasks from .csv or other task/PM solution|
|Turn emails into tasks using project-specific email address|
|UI looks like a physical checklist of to-dos|
|UI looks and operates similar to a spreadsheet|
|UI looks like a task board i.e., scrum or kanban board|
|Gantt or timeline view|
|Assign user(s) and due dates to subtasks|
|Set tasks to automatically repeat on a recurring schedule|
|Set predecessor and dependant tasks, their duration and any lag/float between them|
|Give level of effort estimates (E.g., hours and cost, or hours and complexity or story points)|
|Show task progression as “percent complete,” using a percentage, a fraction or with shading|
|Automatic time tracking (not manually adding time to a task)|
|Automatic expense/budget tracking (not manually adding costs to a task)|
|Run reports for various task criteria, e.g., open tasks, completed tasks, overdue tasks, velocity etc.|
*Features that can be added or “turned on” using extensions, add-ons or integrations are not considered “out-of-the-box.”
PLEASE NOTE: We’ve left the following task management features off the above table, as each of the four products is capable of performing these functions:
Basic task management capabilities:
- Create a task; assign to a user; schedule a due date
- Add a description of the task and designate the task as part of a project
- Assign multiple users to the task
- Add file attachments to the task
- Add comments to the task
- View task history
- Archive tasks indefinitely, rather than delete them
Assign specialization to tasks:
- Add labels/tags to tasks (e.g., “marketing” or “design”).
- Show task status (e.g., on-time tasks are green, at-risk tasks are yellow and tasks requiring immediate attention are red).
- Assign priority (e.g., “flagged” or “starred,” then re-ordered according to priority ranking).
- Move a task using drag-and-drop or picking a status or new designation from a drop-down.
- Move multiple tasks at once, either by selecting each task, a group of tasks or copying a task list.
- Select multiple, individual tasks and “bulk edit” or assign a new designation (e.g., select multiple tasks and delete or assign to a new user).
- User-level dashboard or view of tasks assigned to them across all projects. Options to view/order tasks by various criteria, including due date, status, priority etc.
- Team-level view of workspace activity, i.e., an activity feed. View task updates, status changes and comments/notes left by the other users on your team.
- Manager-level overview of tasks assigned to all resources, used to monitor allocation (what tasks are assigned to each user) and view availability.
- Client/guest access: Invite external guests/clients to collaborate on tasks and set guest/client permissions
- Smart/advanced search or filtering by various criteria, including labels/tags, priority, due date, assigned user etc.
- Notifications (either email or in-app) for various action items, including when tasks are assigned to them, when they are looped into a discussion (e.g., via @mention), when tasks are nearing their due date/deadline and more.
FrontRunners score: 8.96 (Capability score: 4.28; Value score: 4.96)
Reviews: Read user reviews of Trello
Trello is a visual project management tool that helps organize tasks and streamline collaboration among users.
Tasks are called “cards” and workspaces are called “boards” (i.e., kanban boards). Users pull tasks across the board to different columns that reflect the appropriate workflow stage for that project (or team or department).
It’s sold in tiers and the paid plans (Business Class and Enterprise) are priced per user. The base package is free and includes unlimited members, boards, cards and attachments (up to 10MB).
Business Class builds on the free features and includes unlimited power-ups (i.e., pre-built extensions/integrations), larger attachments (up to 250 MB) and priority email support (guaranteed response within one business day). Enterprise is for larger companies managing multiple teams who want onboarding assistance, enhanced security and priority email and phone support.
The task management features checked off in the table above are available in both Trello’s free and paid plans.
This solution is incredibly popular due to its simplicity and its flexibility. For many users, the lack of bells and whistles is what makes Trello great. It isn’t prescriptive or designed for any specific vertical, allowing teams from various industries to mold the tool to their workflows.
This is done by enabling power-ups that “turn on” additional features for the boards. The free plan includes one power up at a time, while the paid plans include unlimited power-ups. Many of the features not checked off on the table above can be enabled using power-ups. These include:
- Gantt chart
- Repeating tasks
- Time tracking
Heads up: In January of 2017, Atlassian acquired Trello. This move received mixed reactions from some of the more vocal Trello diehards. The question at the center of the issue: Would Atlassian keep Trello operating “business as usual”? Or, would they merge the products and sunset the Trello board?
Over a year has passed and outside of some closer integrations between Trello, HipChat, Confluence and JIRA, it seems the hype was for naught. For now at least, Trello is continuing to operate as an independent solution outside of Atlassian’s flagship JIRA product.
Card details in Trello
FrontRunners score: 8.17 (Capability score: 3.74; Value score: 4.43)
Deployment: Cloud-based or on-premise
Reviews: Read user reviews of Cammsproject
Cammsproject is a comprehensive PM solution designed for managers and project management office (PMO) leaders primarily, although it supports teams as well. The user interface (UI) is similar to a spreadsheet with data organized in rows and columns, so ramp-up should be easy for those familiar with Excel and Google Sheets.
The system complies with various industry standards concerning project governance, including PMBOK, PRINCE2 and Agile methodologies, so the tool is designed to work across several common PM practices. It’s capable of managing tasks, resources, budgets and risks at the project level and at the portfolio level, helping align project efforts with business strategy.
It’s priced per user and sold in tiers that scale according to the number and complexity of features. The basic package supports five to 10 users, Standard supports five to 30 users, Professional supports five and up and the Enterprise package supports unlimited users.
Each version offers task management features, but the functionality differs based on the package you’re using:
- The manager dashboard is available in Standard and up
- Email notifications are available in Standard and up
Several of the features not checked off in the table above are available through integrations. These include:
- Time tracking
- Expense tracking
Heads up: Cammsproject doesn’t have reviews from Q1 of 2018. It’s important to consider review recency when evaluating products as they reflect how current customers feel about the product, both the pros and the cons.
However, there are several reviews from 2017 that note the growing pains experienced when getting up to speed with the depth of capabilities available in the platform. Evaluate your end-users’ technical literacy and review training options with the vendor as part of negotiations. Ensure you’re setting teams up for success by offering different types of training to suit the needs of your users.
“My Quick Update” task list in Cammsproject
FrontRunners score: 8.61 (Capability score, 4.37; Value score: 4.24)
Reviews: Read user reviews of Monday.com
Monday.com is a visual PM solution that helps keep teams on track with tasks and projects. It uses color and shading to indicate status, so users know at a glance where things stand.
Data is organized in rows and columns, similar to a spreadsheet. Tasks are broken out by rows and the columns represent workflow stages, e.g., “design” and “testing.” Users pick a color-coded, predetermined status from a drop-down menu, such as “working on it” or “done,” to indicate their progress with the task.
It’s priced in user buckets and sold in tiers that scale according to the number and complexity of features. The Basic plan includes unlimited project workspaces and 5 GB of storage, Standard includes 50GB of storage, Pro includes unlimited storage and Enterprise includes one-on-one training and VIP support with an account manager.
The user buckets can be applied to any plan and are bucketed as follows: five, 10, 15, 25, 50, 100, 200 and 200+. So you can have five users on the Basic plan or on the Pro plan, and so on.
Task management is central to each plan, however the functionality checked off in the table above breaks down as follows:
- The “search everything” feature (used to show show all tasks assigned to a user across projects) available in Standard and up.
- The Gantt timeline view available in Standard and up.
- Unlimited guest access available in Pro and up.
Several of the features left unchecked in the table above are available through integrations. These include:
- Repeating tasks
- Dependant tasks
- Time tracking
Heads up: Despite having a UI with a similar look and feel to a spreadsheet, some of the terminology used to explain the product offering is more commonly associated with kanban tools. For example, rather than calling a project workspace a sheet, it’s called a board.
This isn’t a negative, but prospective buyers should be aware that Monday.com’s “boards” aren’t what the industry has come to associate with those found in kanban tools.
Choosing task status from a drop-down in Monday.com
FrontRunners score: 8.01 (Capability score: 3.7; Value score: 4.31)
Reviews: Read user reviews of Redbooth
Redbooth is a highly collaborative PM solution. Tasks are centralized in a shared workspace, which looks similar to a kanban board with columns or “lanes” representing stages in the workflow. Individual tasks, however, are arranged more like to-dos on a checklist than “cards.”
What it may lack in “advanced” functionality (i.e., budget tracking, roadmapping etc.), it makes up for with features that speak to users’ day-to-day needs. For example, Redbooth allows users to import tasks from spreadsheets and create tasks directly from emails.
It’s priced per user and sold in tiers that scale by the number and complexity of features. The basic version is free and includes two workspaces and 2GB file storage. The paid plans—Pro and Business—each have unlimited workspaces. Pro has 5GB file storage, while Business has 50GB.
Task management is central to this system and is included in both the free and and paid plans. The functionality in the table above breaks down across each plan as follows:
- Repeating tasks available in Pro and Business
- Dependencies available in Pro and Business
- Reporting available in Pro and Business
- Client access available in Pro and Business
A few of the features left unchecked can be added using browser extensions or integrations. For example: Time tracking.
Heads up: Redbooth has lots of advancements and new features on the horizon following their recent merger with AeroFS/Amium. They’ve built out a forum inviting user feedback on shortcomings and feature requests. Review their active topics to see what’s coming down the pipeline to ensure new capabilities will be worth any growing pains experienced as part of the expansion.
Task lists in Redbooth
Where to Go From Here
Researching task management features is just the first step in finding the right PM solution for your team. Here are a few next steps you should take as you continue your buyer journey:
- Get price quotes: It’s not uncommon to experience sticker shock when you get a quote from the vendor. What’s listed as the “per user” price on the vendor website is so far from the total estimated cost. There are several factors that go into this, from number of users to upfront fees and support and maintenance costs. Ask vendors for an itemized quote and then build out a business case to ensure your expected return is worth the cost.
- Schedule product demos with vendors: Use demos as a practice run. Provide vendors with a list of your needs and workflows and ask them to provide a “day-in-the-life” scenario for your stakeholders (as opposed to simply running through their feature list). Ask questions and use a demo scorecard.
1The Software Advice FrontRunners quadrant is powered by Gartner methodology. Products are scored based on the capability and value they offer small businesses. Find out more about FrontRunners scoring here. You can download the full FrontRunners for Project Management report here.
For this article, we looked at the PM tools with the highest combined capability and value score for each quadrant: Leaders, Pacesetters, Masters and Contenders.
To create our feature comparison chart, we researched each vendor online and looked at their websites as well as customer forums and help/support articles. We then validated the feature list with each vendor and confirmed how the functionality is broken down across product tiers. If you have questions, please email me at [email protected].