Our LiquidPlanner product experts dedicate a lot of time to speaking with people who are considering new, more productive Project Management (PM) tools. A question we are often asked is: How does LiquidPlanner compare to task management tools like Trello or Asana?
Here are the key differences between project and task management software:
Project vs. Task Management
To begin the comparison, it is important to define the difference between project and task management. You can think of project management tools as offering functionality that’s a superset of what’s available in task management tools. Task management tools don’t usually have the capacity to manage more complex projects–like those for engineering, technology, or manufacturing teams–who make estimations in order to see how every plan change affects the entire project or portfolio overall.
In a nutshell:
LiquidPlanner can do everything that a task management software can do—and much more. LiquidPlanner helps teams organize their work and collaborate more effectively, but LiquidPlanner is also a full-service PM tool for more complex project needs. Our automated scheduling engine provides realistic project plans and calculates finish dates with 90% confidence.
Here are how the primary three features compare between task management software and project management software.
1. Prioritizing Work
Teams who are juggling multiple projects often struggle to define their top priorities. More often than not, you randomly select a project to start because you know there’s a lot of work to get done and there isn’t time to waste!
How task management prioritizes work…
Prioritizing tasks within a task management tool is sometimes closer to a to-do list than a project schedule. In most task management tools, tasks and dates drive the schedule. This means you can organize tasks in priority order, but when priorities shift, these changes are not automatically reflected in the schedule and you have to manually adjust delivery dates. You can reprioritize plans as you see fit, but the changes don’t take into account the availability of people working on the tasks or how long it will take them to do the work. There’s no way of easily seeing if the re-prioritization is realistic based on available resources.
Also, while some task management tools offer a “drag and drop” functionality, most only let you keep your tasks in priority order within checklists. This makes it impossible to prioritize tasks across projects and see the impact of one change across a portfolio of work—which is important for people working on multiple projects at once.
How LiquidPlanner prioritizes work…
LiquidPlanner was designed to be a priority-driven scheduling engine. This means that the priority of tasks and the availability of resources drive the schedule. So, every time a priority shifts, the schedule updates automatically to show how the entire portfolio of projects is affected by that change, including how the reprioritization affects available resources.
In LiquidPlanner, you can change your priorities with a simple drag and drop within the project or across projects, and the scheduling engine will automatically update across all projects in your workspace. These changes will also dynamically generate new start and finish dates based on those portfolio-wide resource commitments and the priorities you assign to your workflow items.
A core benefit of having a priority-based scheduling engine is that your organization’s priorities are factored into the portfolio from the very beginning. This provides total clarity on what is most important for the company and ensures every project team member is working on the right tasks. Say goodbye to a culture where “Everything is priority #1.” This is not only unrealistic but also leads to poor expectation setting and team burnout.
2. Resource Management
One of the biggest factors of project success comes down to how effectively you manage your resources. Misallocate or over-allocate your people or overshoot your budget, you’re in big trouble. Do it right, and you’re a hero.
How task management tools manage resources…
In general, task management tools allow you to assign tasks to resources (people), but they don’t take into account resource leveling (how much work is already on people’s plates). If you don’t have visibility to what the team can take on, it is impossible to rely on meeting your set finish date. For example, in Trello, each board has a member list on the right side of the board that allows you to simply add resources to tasks. Trello assumes the members on a task will be working together in order to reach a deadline.
This way of managing resources assumes that people have infinite time, or that they will stand up and push back if they don’t have the bandwidth to take on a task, which can cause a lot of problems among teams, customers—and meeting deadlines. Without data on capacity, it is extremely challenging for team members to say no to incoming work and set realistic expectations with leadership or clients.
How LiquidPlanner manages resources…
LiquidPlanner is the only resource-driven scheduling tool out there. In the LiquidPlanner app, each user has a personal profile where they set their available hours for project work each week. The scheduling engine takes this into account as well as company holidays and personal time off. As tasks are created and assigned, LiquidPlanner’s scheduling engine provides realistic start and finish dates based on team members’ current workload and availability.
As projects progress, scope changes or new work comes in, LiquidPlanner automatically levels the workload for your team across multiple projects and dependencies so that you have a real-time view of bandwidth for the entire company. LiquidPlanner’s resource management capabilities make it impossible to overschedule resources. If an issue arises, you can pull a workload report for a deeper look into an individual’s commitments, and see who might be available to take on more work. With LiquidPlanner, you can eliminate overload and improve utilization with automatic resource-leveling across projects.
3. Risk Management
Managing risks is one of the hardest things to get right—especially when you’re overseeing multiple long-term projects with a lot of moving parts. LiquidPlanner was created to take project uncertainty into account, and let teams know well ahead of time of incoming risks. Most task management tools don’t offer risk management other than a notification that the deadline is a day or two away.
How task management tools manage risk…
The only true way to account for risk in a traditional task management tool is to set your due date for a task a day, a week, or even longer before the actual deadline. Some of these tools will automatically notify you when you are one day away from a task being due, but at that point, it’s usually too late to make any proactive changes or warn stakeholders and customers. Importantly, they are unable to surface resource bottlenecks or to provide visibility to schedule risk when things like scope creep come into play.
How LiquidPlanner manages risk…
LiquidPlanner has a constantly running Monte Carlo simulation that accounts for the inherent uncertainty in all projects and adapts to change. Your plan will always alert you to risks well before missing deadlines. This way teams can make any necessary adjustments to priorities and team resources, or have conversations with stakeholders about priorities and timing in advance of disaster striking. If a project is slipping or if there is a bottleneck, you’re alerted in time to actually mitigate the risk.
Scaling Up: From the Basics to Advanced
You don’t have to learn all of our features at once. With LiquidPlanner, you can start with our task management features to prioritize work and expand from there if you need. We find that many teams grow into our robust PM features: estimation, scheduling, analytics, and resource management (see how InDinero did this).
With a simple task management tool, you are limited to only managing your to-dos and do not have access to other smart technology. What you see is what you get and that’s it. That might be okay to start but if your company or team grows and needs to rapidly adjust to change, you’ll need a system that can grow with you (see how Redapt grew their business with LiquidPlanner).
The good news with a predictive project management tool like LiquidPlanner is that teams can customize their workspace and processes to get the best work done in a manner that fits their philosophies, processes, and business needs.
If you’re looking for a better option, something that can manage projects and resources reliably—try using a PM tool rather than a task management tool. Start a trial now to see what you’ve been missing!