Project Management Guide
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Why Should I Use Task and Project Views in Project Management Software?

Task and project views in your project management software are different layouts for viewing project and task activities. For instance, many free project management software solutions only offer one task and project view — the board view.

The five most common task views are:

  • Board view
  • Table view
  • Gantt chart view
  • List view
  • File view

Why you should select project software with multiple task and project views

Everyone is different, and everyone on your project team will do things a little differently. By embracing this diversity, you can boost productivity, enhance creativity, and improve your overall project outcomes.

It’s no wonder companies are spending millions of dollars to serve their diverse workforce. Aside from expanding their teams’ demographic diversity, companies are digging deep to understand how their employees think and approach work problems.

Research has shown that the personality of an employee plays a key role in their performance at work. In 2017, Deloitte launched their “business chemistry” service to help companies discover team members’ strengths and weaknesses so they can better pair teammates and coworkers.

While these efforts are in the right direction, many businesses are unknowingly ignoring one of the key aspects of diversity — an aspect that can hugely impact your organization’s bottom line.

Just as not everyone learns the same way, employees also have different working styles. Giving people the freedom to work how they want helps them achieve new levels of productivity.

By investing in software with multiple views, you allow your team members to work in their own way and modify the tool to fit their individual preferences. Not only will this produce the above benefits, but it will also increase the adoption of the software.

If a project management tool doesn’t offer simple customization that allows different task and project views, it’s missing a critical component.

After all, if employees find a view cumbersome or difficult to use but can’t change it, they simply won’t want to use it.

This is why it’s important to select software that can switch between views — one that caters to specific work styles and objectives and enables users to transform one view into another with one click. The entire team can manage the project data in one place, while each person can view it in whatever format they prefer.

When to use different task and project views

Here’s an overview of the five most-common task and project views and when each one may be most beneficial.

Board view

A board view offers a flexible Kanban approach to project management. If you’re not familiar with Kanban, it’s a framework for implementing the Agile project management methodology.

Kanban originated in Toyota factories during the 1940s and emphasizes managing projects based on your team’s work capacity. Departments originally used a visual card system of sticky notes on a board to signal that their team was ready to produce more and needed more materials.

When a task was ready to move from one phase to the next, they would simply move the note over to the next column. Today’s digital board views work much the same way. Tasks are viewed in columns based on completion, such as:

  • Not started
  • In progress
  • In review
  • Completed or approved
When to use it:

This project management view is especially popular with teams working on Agile projects — especially software and development teams that are consistently adding features, fixing bugs, or handling defects.

Team members can easily move tasks from a “to-do” list to an “in progress” list when they start working. When they’re finished, they can then move the task to a “done” list. This functionality makes it easy for the team to see how much progress they’re making, track each item's status, and understand exactly where the roadblocks are.

Board view doesn’t do a good job illustrating the relationship between tasks, so it’s better for simple projects that don’t have many dependencies or much interrelated work.

Table view

Think of a project schedule created in an Excel spreadsheet, and you’ll picture a standard table view.

Before the adoption of project management software, many people managed their projects in spreadsheets. Therefore, they often prefer this view, especially when first adopting software as it’s the most familiar to them.

While the table view offers many of the organizational benefits of a spreadsheet, it’s attached to the work, updated in real-time, and is easily customizable so you can format the data for quick decision making. In other words, it removes the risk of manual updates that’s inherent to spreadsheets.

When to use it:

The table view is especially useful when updating a lot of information or working with numbers. For example, a project manager may choose to use the table view to quickly input details attached to a new project's tasks being set up.

The table view is also convenient if you’re updating the comments, progress, resources, or statuses of multiple tasks within the project. Viewing data this way makes it quick and easy to ensure all the essential details are in place and accounted for.

Gantt chart view

The Gantt chart is what most people picture when they think of a project schedule. It’s perhaps the most-popular project view. Invented in 1910, Gantt charts are still a staple in project management. Their popularity is obvious: They make it incredibly easy to visualize a project and all of its parts.

The Gantt chart view is particularly valuable to executives and stakeholders who want a visual overview of the project as a whole. It enables you to see the flow of tasks, including which ones are dependent on each other, and the timeline overall.

When to use it:

The Gantt chart is an excellent way to see and understand the interrelationships and flow of tasks throughout your project.

Using the Gantt chart view, you can easily see all of your project tasks, understand their dependencies, and grasp how they’re interconnected.

The Gantt chart view is also useful for presentations to customers and stakeholders to easily understand what progress has been made, what is left to do, and how moving or changing tasks will impact other work.

List view

Ever make a to-do list or a shopping list for the grocery store? This is the essence of a list view. It shows an itemized list of the tasks you need to complete so you can track, organize, and prioritize your work.

The list view can help team members stay focused and productive by providing them with a chronological, linear view of the tasks needed to meet the overarching project objectives.

When to use it:

The list view is perfect for projects with tasks that must be completed in chronological order and/or have a clear hierarchy. Lists help prioritize work and make it easy for team members to plan and process many tasks at once.

With this view, you can arrange your tasks in order of importance and systematically work your way down the list. As each item on your list is completed, your brain releases small amounts of dopamine, which trigger positive emotional feelings and help motivate you to achieve even more items on your list.

File view

Not all projects are centered around tasks and timelines. Some are centered around digital assets and files. In fact, many digital-age professionals spend large amounts of time searching for, accessing, editing, and sharing digital files. With this view, you can easily see and sort all of the files related to your project.

When to use it:

The file view makes it easy to find and consolidate files across tasks within a larger project. Gather all assets needed for a marketing campaign, customer event, or sales presentation in one place. You can even provide proofing or feedback and action approvals.

The file view makes it easy to get work done while preserving the project and task structure needed for powerful work management. It’s most useful if you have a project that contains a large number of files or deliverables, such as a design project.

Further reading
blog post

5 Simple Yet Powerful Must-Have Project Management Features

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Think Different, Work Different: The One Aspect of Diversity Most Companies Ignore

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Create, Find & Use the Right Files Faster with Wrike