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Social Task Management: Friend or Foe?

Social task management software has become an extremely popular subject lately. It has spurred a lot of talk around the benefits of this new software and whether it’s really the savior it claims to be. The number of companies offering social task management software has exploded making selecting the right tool for the job tough. Not sure if social task management is right for you and your organization? Today I’m going to try and set the record straight.

What is social task management software, anyway?

Before we talk about whether social task management software is right for you and your organization, it’s important to get everyone on the same page. According to a post by John Tripp from the project wall, most social task management software creates “a to do list on steroids” that lets users “share/assign the list with others, and provide the ability to define an ad hoc ‘workflow’ to the tasks.” So essentially, social task management tools help increase transparency as users can see other’s to do lists and keep track of their respective progress.

In his post, Tripp claims that there are several problems with social task management software. He believes that “Social task management is just that. Task management…Projects are usually far more granular than the items would appear.” He brings up an interesting point with this. Here at Mindjet when we first started using Mindjet Connect Action there were times where we ran into a similar problem. It is easy to “over simplify” a project when using these tools. An email campaign is much more complex than just assigning a “Create email campaign” to a team member. Team members must think through projects ahead of time. This is actually a beneficial exercise not only because it helps creating more accurate task inputs, but also forces individuals to realize the complexities of what they are asking. With a little experience this problem is easily overcome.

The second issue Tripp points out, I believe is a much more real and difficult one to overcome. “The second ‘problem’ with the embedding of ‘social’ task management into every silo solution is that the social component becomes restricted to those who have access to the software.” As the case with most tools, they are only really worth it if the right people have access to it and most importantly actually use it. When it comes to something like social task management, you only really receive results if you can get a large number of people using it. If you fail here, all of your ensuing efforts will be in vain.

Friend or Foe?

While the outright replacement of your existing project management tools may be a little premature, not trying social task management is an equally large mistake. It’s like peanut butter and jelly, sure you could eat one without the other, but it’s so much better when you combine the two. As Tripp says, “Together the two systems are very powerful. The project can be managed at the correct level, without requiring the smallest (and immaterial) tasks to be tracked in the plan, and each project user can create their own micro projects in Activities, collaborate on that work, and track the minutia there.”

The verdict

Social task management software is neither friend nor foe. It’s important to realize that it’s not a zero sum game between the two. So instead of thinking of it as such, try viewing social task management as the caramel to the chocolate inside a MilkyWay. You could have one without the other, but come on who really enjoys a 3 Musketeers when you can have a MilkyWay.

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