All projects are work, but not all work is a project (part 2).
In our last article, we broke down the difference between “projects” and nonroutine “work,”—e.g., daily tasks, collaborating with coworkers, low effort and/or low-risk ad hoc requests, etc.—noting that while this type of work doesn’t require the rigor of formal project management, it still needs to be managed.
Enter work management software!
If you heard crickets instead of clapping after that entrance, you’re not alone. There’s a lot of confusion around what work management software is and how it differs from project management software. We’re here to clear that up.
In this article, we’ll explain what work management software is and explore use cases for different types of work management tools. The goal? Finding the right tool for your needs.
Quick overview of work management software
You may have heard “work management” software referenced by different names, including:
- Workplace collaboration tools
- Team management software
- Team productivity tools
- Social software
- Social collaboration tools
You’ll notice there are a few key themes repeated here: Teams and collaboration.
That’s because the target audience for work management software is nontechnical business professionals and knowledge workers, and a critical purpose of these tools is to facilitate collaboration among users.
Key features include:
- Task management
- Reporting and analytics
- Document/content management
- Workflow management
There is some overlap between work management and project management software features; the key difference is that project management tools include project planning and tracking and are designed to manage a project’s triple constraints (scope, timeline, and budget). Work management tools don’t offer that degree of oversight.
Use cases for work management software
According to Gartner, work management tools lend themselves to situations where work can’t be rigorously planned and where the exact order of tasks is uncertain (full report available to Gartner clients).
This type of work is more common in certain roles and industries than others, often where work is more collaborative, requiring creative problem-solving rather than a detailed sequence of instructions and adherence to strict workflows.
Use cases for work management tools include:
- Event coordination
- Emergency management
- Strategy development
4 categories of work management software
Here’s how Gartner breaks down the different categories of work management software (full report available to Gartner clients):
1. Personal to-do list
2. Shared task/work management
3. Collaboration tools
4. Agile tools
Generally specific to software development teams, provides a collaborative workspace for executing and tracking tasks at each stage of the development lifecycle. Examples include: Leankit, Pivotal Tracker, and SpiraTeam.
How to find the right work management software for your needs
Now that you have an idea of how different tools are used for different purposes, here are your next steps:
- Analyze end-user needs and identify must-have versus nice-to-have functionality. Based on your required features, you should be able to answer this question “Do I need a standalone tool for task management or collaboration only, or a full-featured work management solution?”
- Create a shortlist of products based on functionality and team requirements (cloud-based, on-premise, customer service offering, etc.). You can use our directory and filter the product list by the features you’re looking for.
- Vet products by asking vendors who their target user is and whether they offer your make-or-break features.
- Narrow your shortlist down (three to five products), demo the products, and score them.
- Invest in the tool that best fits your needs.
For more tips on how to how to get the best return on your software investment, be sure to follow our blog.
Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.