There are many task management solutions on the market today such as Asana, Producteev, HiTast, and dozes of others. My team happens to use Asana which is why I mentioned them in the title of this post (and is hence the one I am most familiar with). The goal of all of these solutions is to make it easier to get work done, especially in teams, without relying heavily on email. However the problem with all of these task management solutions comes down to getting notified about tasks, which inherently comes down to email.
I’ll use Asana is an example. When someone assigns me a task or if I assign someone a task, the only way they get notified is via email. Actually email is the way you get notified about anything including if someone comments on a task you assign. The problem with this is that you only know about an update when you check your email. This means that either you need to check your email very often or you don’t check your email often and don’t get to stay up to date on what’s going on around tasks and projects.
If I’m supposed to use the task management solutions as a way to reduce my reliance on email then why do all of them force me back into email? Again, this is common with every platform I have seen today. There needs to be a way to notify users of task updates which does NOT rely on email. I think the best way to solve this is via a desktop application (perhaps build on Adobe Air) which you can always have open. It’s a bit like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, you open it once and it just hangs out on your desktop and when relevant updates come your way they just pop up. It’s easy to update content or share information and keep in touch with people, why don’t we have something like this around task management (or even collaboration?)
Here’s what I would want to see:
A desktop app which I can just click on once in the morning when I start my day. This app will notify me anytime a task or project has been updated in anyway (for example if it was completed or if someone left a comment). I also want to be able to assign tasks and view tasks in a very simple way. The app should also notify me with reminders if tasks are due that day or if they are overdue. Finally, I’d like to be able to reference people and other tasks in that app much the same way I do within Twitter (using the “@” symbol). Some of the solutions today allow you to do this but you have to be logged into their web-based site to do so. The key here is not just to notify me about things but to provide context around notifications. For example, if someone on my team comments on a task I assign them I don’t just want a pop to say “someone commented on your task,” I want to be able to read the comment and have it threaded or linked to the task so that my response falls under the same thread and in the same context. It would also be great to have some sort of notification system letting me know if someone has seen or accepted the task. I can’t tell you how may times I needed to follow up with my team because I’m never sure if they see a comment I leave on an assigned task.
This doesn’t appear to be that complicated to create yet nobody has created it, why?
Mobile notifications are another option here but more applicable when on-the-go, if I’m sitting at my computer I don’t really want my phone buzzing with updates, I’d rather seem them on my computer.
Task management providers need to solve this problem, I’m looking at you Asana!
On a side note there is also no way to just put up some sort of a status update for asynchronous communication, meaning you can only talk about tasks and projects but if you want to have an update saying you are away for a few hours or traveling, you can’t.
I have plenty of other ideas and suggestions but let us start here.
What task management solutions do you use or recommend and why? What else would you like to see offered?
(Cross-posted @ Social Business Advisor: Enterprise Collaboration Strategy)