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Task Management and Resource Planning: How Are They Different?

August 30, 2022 | By Samantha Varner

Tech stacks can be a powerful asset for any organization. After all, how many of us have had the experience of implementing software or a platform that claims to “do it all” only to discover that it’s actually not doing any of those things very well? It’s far better to find separate, powerful tools that can work together to optimize your workflow.

So when it comes to your tech stack, do you need software that handles capacity planning and forecasting separately from a task management tool? To fully answer this question, it first helps to understand how task management and resource planning differ.

What is task management?

When we look at a project, a task is a single unit of work that will be required to complete that project. Tasks can be planning- or execution-focused, and by definition, any project will require a series of tasks to come to fruition.

Task management is the process of defining those action items, or tasks, needed to complete a project. Furthermore, it also involves prioritizing, delegating, and scheduling the necessary action items on an ongoing basis. In many cases, some tasks may be dependent on others, which means delays on one task can impact the overall timeline.

That’s why active tasks lists, where each task is assigned to a person and has a daily status update, are so important. Task management is a critical component to organized project efforts.

How does resource management differ?

If each task is assigned to a person, does that count as resource planning? Not really. Task management is focused on the specific action item assigned to a resource. It doesn’t factor in how the task relates to the macro view of the project and portfolio.

Resource management looks at the big picture. What are the planned versus actuals for specific tasks or groups of dependent tasks? How can the actuals inform future decisions about the portfolio? Understanding how a resource is able to handle specific tasks based on their skills, availability, and capacity puts you in a position to forecast and resource projects more efficiently in the future.

Task management is the granular, in-the-weeds actions required for coordinating work. Resource management focuses on the people that will actually be doing the work, whether those resources are being efficiently utilized, and how those resources can be optimized down the road.

What’s the best way to use them together?

Because task management and resource management are both critical yet fundamentally different practices, we can see why each one benefits from a tool created to focus on that specific function. That’s why we recommend stacking Tempus Resource with task management tools to get the best of all worlds.

Functional managers need a tool that shows them what their team is working on that day or week. After all, their goal is to keep their teams organized and on-schedule as well as anticipate potential delays.

Leadership, on the other hand, is going to want to see the forecasts versus the actuals on completed work and use that data to inform future decisions. Are there enough resources to execute the current project portfolio? Are there any areas where resources are being under-utilized and could take on more work? 

Some organizations believe that one solution should be able to manage both of these processes. However, at the end of the day, lumping them together is going to land you with a platform geared one way or the other. At least one area will suffer. Instead, we recommend using Tempus Resource in conjunction with a tool specifically designed for task management to fully optimize both your resources and your workflow.

Want to learn more about how Tempus Resource can support your task management efforts? Contact us today or schedule a demo!

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