Social task management (STM) is a real-time, collaborative software-based approach to business activities that have traditionally been conducted through asynchronous processes such as document sharing and status updates. STM software is available as a standalone product or as part of a larger enterprise business software suite.
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Most social task management products provide a portal interface that organizes project members around tasks. Project milestones, deadlines and other details associated with the tasks are coordinated and synchronized across user systems.
Alan Lepofsky, an analyst with Constellation Research, describes the processes involved in a typical project without social collaboration: One manager schedules meetings to assign tasks and check statuses. Progress is recorded in a project plan or spreadsheet. That plan is then shared by file, or emailed. If anyone has a suggestion, another email or instant message is sent. The plan is updated and shared again. The process repeats until the project is finished. According to Lepofsky, this type of project management creates bottlenecks, inadvertently or mistakenly keeps people out of the loop, limits collaboration, and can even cause confusion when an email is taken out of context.
Lepofsky lists five benefits of social task management software:
- Activity streams display everything happening in a project.
- Conversations are in context with the proper subjects, allowing people to remark on the overall project or a specific item, preventing confusion.
- Media can be integrated into tasks and comments. For instance, someone can attach a presentation to a particular task.
- Employees can hit a Favorite or Like button, which can serve as barometers.
- Words and phrases can be tagged so employees can locate the item later.
Vendors of social task management products include Asana, AtTask, Do.com (part of Salesforce.com), Producteev, Mindjet and TeamBox.