What is Task Management Software?

Task management is the process of managing a task through its lifecycle. It involves the planning, estimation and scheduling of the task as well as the ability to track dependencies and milestones. This section explains what task management is, and what features you should look for in a task management tool.

What is Task Management Software?

Task management software is used to manage your tasks, help with the estimation and scheduling, track dependencies, resources and milestones and help you make decisions when changes in priority are needed.

From managing simple to-do lists to helping teams work and collaborate better, there are many different types of task management software and it is important to understand what your needs are to make sure you truly get a tool that is going to improve your productivity rather than create more work that it saves!

Task Management Software

With the move to agile methodologies and geographically distributed teams, the traditional ways of managing projects (GANTT project plans, whiteboards and yellow post-it notes) are no longer able to provide the real-time visibility needed in such demanding project schedules. A modern task management system should provide the following types of feature:

Now, not every tool provides all these features and you may not even need many of these features. So you should understand what are the real problems you are trying to solve, for example:

  • You are an independent consultant, looking for a tool to help you manage your to-do lists, provide visibility to your clients and have some basic calendar and communication tools.
  • You are managing the tasks of a small/medium-sized team that is physically co-located and need a way to manage the flow and assignment of activities.
  • You are responsible for a large cross-functional department with 1,000 people scattered over multiple geographies and you need to manage your workload and collaborate in a globally distributed manner.

In each of these three examples the needs are quite different and a software tool that is optimal for one use case may be insufficient or conversely too cumbersome for the others.

Why is Task Management Software Important?

Traditionally, Software Development organizations use the following tools to manage their project schedules and tasks:

  • Requirements stored in MS-Word documents, MS-Excel spreadsheets or standalone requirements capture tools
  • High-level project plan (GANTT chart) developed in tools such as Microsoft Project, Primavera and printed out for reference
  • Project estimates prepared using a combination of the high-level project plan and specialized standalone MS-Excel spreadsheets
  • Detailed task schedules maintained by individual team members using MS-Excel, Whiteboards or Groupware solutions
  • MS-Access, MS-Excel or standalone web-based bug-tracking system for tracking issues and defects associated with the project tasks.

As the static project plan with its discrete phases has become replaced by the more flexible agile approach, the old set of task management software tools no longer works:

  • The project requirements and scope are not locked-down so the schedule of releases and iterations needs to be connected to the requirements backlog in real-time
  • The project schedule is constantly evolving, with tasks being reallocated to different iterations and team members re-estimating the number of requirements and associated tasks they can complete in a given timeframe
  • Defects, tasks and requirements need to be managed in the same environment, with the project estimates and schedules taking account of both at all times

SpiraPlan is explicitly designed to address these issues and provide an integrated task management solution

Features of Task Management Software

The following features should be part of any task management system:

  • Prioritize and schedule requirements for each release
  • Determine resourcing levels to deliver required features
  • Refine project schedule to include release iterations
  • Allocate requirements to iterations based on detailed task estimates
  • Track issues and defects against project schedule
  • View project velocity, burndown and burnup reports

Why Choose SpiraPlan for Task Management

SpiraPlan provides the ability to create, edit, assign and track the project tasks that have been assigned to members of the project team. You can search, filter and sort the list of tasks to quickly find those that are behind schedule or are late starting. In addition, SpiraPlan provides the ability for team members to enter actual hours as the work on the project and compare them against the original estimates to ensure that the project can be delivered on-time, on-budget.

Instead of having to buy separate requirements management, project planning and defect tracking tools, SpiraPlan provides a complete web-based task management system in one package.

Task Organization

SpiraPlan provides the ability to edit assign and track the project tasks. You can search, filter and sort the list of tasks to quickly find those that are behind schedule or are late starting. Task can be grouped into folders to make it easy to organize by track, stream or functional area.

Task Editing

SpiraPlan allows you to track the progress of the tasks in the project and determine if tasks are suffering from schedule overrun or estimate inflation. In addition you can compare actuals for continuous process improvement. The different stakeholders working on the task can add discussions and comments to reach consensus on the desired approach.

Visual Planning and Scheduling

SpiraPlan includes Scrum and Kanban Task Boards that let you see the individual tasks assigned to each of the Sprints and Iterations as well as by-person or status:

In addition, for Scrum / Agile projects, SpiraPlan lets you see the status of the tasks organized by the feature or user story that they relate to:

Finally, for more traditional, waterfall projects, SpiraPlan includes a comprehensive GANTT view of releases, milestones and tasks, so that you can plan and track the progress of the tasks along a timeline of the project:

Customizable Workflows

Tasks can be categorized into different types, each of which can have its own customizable workflow. This allows you to define different rules, permissions and operations for each of the different task types:

Email Notifications

SpiraPlan comes out of the box with a selection of pre-built high-quality email notification templates. Whenever specific actions are performed on the tasks, the system will automatically send out notifications using the supplied templates.

Document Management

With SpiraPlan, files can be quickly and easily attached to the tasks being managed. The documents are available in the integrated document management system. This allows you to organize the documents into folders, categorize by document types and associate with meta-tags.

Integration with IDEs

Developers are working in their own environments called “Integrated Development Environments” (called IDEs). These environments often provide rudimentary tools for managing development tasks:

However these tasks are not shareable between team members, and there is no way for a project management to have visibility into the tasks’ progress. However SpiraPlan integrates with their IDEs to that the tasks visible directly in the IDEs can be shared with the team. SpiraPlan brings real-time global task management to the desktop.

Visual Studio Integration

SpiraPlan can be used in conjunction with the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE) for viewing and managing your assigned Tasks directly inside the same window used to write code. That way, your developers can perform all their activities inside the IDE without needing to open up SpiraPlan in a separate window.

Eclipse Integration

SpiraPlan can be used in conjunction with the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) for viewing and managing your assigned Tasks directly inside the same window used to write code.

Rather than develop a new user-interface from scratch, the SpiraPlan plug-in uses the generic Mylyn task-management interface that allows Eclipse users to manage their local tasks and tasks from any compatible repository in a single interface. That way, your developers can perform all their activities inside the IDE without needing to open up SpiraPlan in a separate window.

IntelliJ Integration

SpiraPlan includes a plugin for the JetBrains family of IDEs for different languages, including: IntelliJ, IDEA, PhpStorm, WebStorm, PyCharm, RubyMine, AppCode, CLion, Gogland, DataGrip, Rider, and Android Studio.

Clicking on any requirement, task or incident will open up additional information in the bottom of the tool window. Clicking the title in this additional information panel will open the relevant item in SpiraPlan in your default browser.

Visual Studio Code Integration

SpiraPlan comes with a free plugin for Visual Studio Code (VS Code) that creates a new custom view for SpiraPlan artifacts. This view allows you to seamlessly SpiraPlan Tasks, Requirements, and Incidents as well as create brand new Tasks right from within Visual Studio Code.

Spira Panel

In addition, there is a useful option to copy the SpiraPlan artifact token into the clipboard, for easy pasting into Version Control commits or descriptions.

Instant Messenger

Sometimes you get blocked on a task and you need to speak to someone immediately. SpiraPlan includes an integrated instant-messenger that lets users collaborate and communicate in real-time regardless of geographic location:

Timecard Submission

SpiraPlan includes a built-in timecard entry system that lets developers quickly and easily enter the time spent each day on their assigned tasks so that you can keep track of the time spent and the hours remaining.

So, in Summary

SpiraPlan manages your project's requirements, releases, iterations, tasks, bugs and issues in one environment. Since its web based, teams can collaborate in real time and have up to the minute visibility of the project’s status.

The top reasons that our customers choose SpiraPlan over other solutions are:

  • It is a complete solution that includes requirements management, release planning, iteration planning, task estimation and defect tracking all fully integrated from day one.
  • Highly intuitive web application that provides a complete picture of a project’s status and health yet requires only a web-browser.
  • Methodology Agnostic – SpiraPlan can be used equally web for any agile methodology – including Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, and Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD).
  • Ability to leverage your existing technology investments. SpiraPlan integrates with many third-party defect-management systems and software configuration management (SCM) systems.

In addition, we provide superb technical support that ensures that enquiries and questions are dealt with in a timely and professional manner.

How do I Get Started?

To learn more about SpiraPlan and how it can improve your task management, please:

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And if you have any questions, please email or call us at +1 (202) 558-6885