Task Manager 2003

Reviewed by: Pau Schneider, PhD, send e-mail
Published by: Orbisoft, go to the web site
Requires: Pentium III or higher, 64MB RAM, 800x600 screen resolution or greater
MSRP: $379.95 (single user license)

The main focus of the program is on individual tasks. Tasks consist of a name, description, notes, ID and several user definable fields. Tasks are assigned to team members, given dates and participants. As you might surmise, setting up your team members, rules and defining extra fields is activity you should consider doing before getting started on a project. Once tasks are assigned to team members (or yourself as the manager), task completion information can be added and information about the task can be updated as the project proceeds. For those who need a gentle nudge, Task Manager can automatically send reminder e-mails.

The real power in the tool comes from the manipulation of the data you enter and track. The program's reports provide a nice view of a great many things ranging from individual performances to comparisons of productivity across years, to when tasks are completed relative to their pre-assigned end dates.

Task Manager is fairly flexible and offers loads of different rules and filters which can be set up for the creation of tasks, reminders and reports. Many of these, such as auto correct, are built-in or set up with just a few steps. Others can be accessed through a selection of choices or the use of different formulas and definable rules.

This is a database application at its heart and Task Manager doesn't really try to hide these roots. The advantage is that those with a bit of programming or database savvy will find the system easy to modify and personalize. Now granted you don't need to be a programmer to do this, but that type of background will help.

Having worked on an extensive database project built in Microsoft Access, Visual Basic, and Cold Fusion, I felt right at home. However, the downside to this approach is that there is some sacrifice in usability. My non-programmer folk found the interface less than friendly. For myself I could understand their reasoning, as many of the buttons and options were not intuitive. That being said, providing a little training and configuring Task Manager to match your environment will probably lead to a more fruitful situation. The only other major drawback I found was that the program didn't support a web-based environment. Sure you could use VNC or PCAnywhere to access it remotely, but it would be nice if you could access it across the Internet as well. Of course for many folks this will not be relevant.

Last, keep in mind that Task Manager 2003 manages tasks. The product focus does not lie in project management in the manner of tools such as Microsoft Project 2000. But Task Manager's approach can, in many situations, be exactly what you need.

Task Manager 2003 is a highly extensible and powerful task management program. It provides a plethora of options and capabilities when it comes to managing new or recurring individual tasks. If you are looking for a way to better organize your work or workgroup and are in a task-oriented environment, this could be the tool for you.

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