In Arrow-Tip #43 I discussed how my newest client Gulf Coast Welding is using Outlook/Exchange and SharePoint to manage their shared documents, calendar and email. In this post, I’d like to tackle tasks which proposed a real dilemma when trying to decide between posting on Outlook or SharePoint.
To be perfectly honest, the jury is still out on which is the best environment for housing tasks that originate from our regular weekly production meetings. The real benefit to using SharePoint to record and track tasks associated with regular meetings is that all participants can see where they stand in terms of status and can discuss issues that need to be resolved in order to complete the tasks. And, once I figured out how to update tasks more efficiently in SharePoint (select the Edit in Datasheet option off of the Tasks Actions menu) I found maintenance relatively easy.
My biggest problem with using SharePoint for task assignment is that assignees have to keep up with tasks in two different places i.e. personal or individual tasks in their Outlook Tasks folder and group meeting tasks on SharePoint. Keeping multiple task lists is usually a recipe for disaster – more on that later. Another huge advantage to tracking tasks in Outlook is the ability to synchronize them with smart phones and PDA devices. And there are some other real advantages to managing tasks in your Outlook mailbox tied to how they integrate with other folders like your Inbox. I love being able to create tasks from emails using the SimplyFile TaskIt button which removes an item out of my inbox and at the same time carries over all the pertinent information I need to complete a task from the email into the task body.
Back to my biggest issue with SharePoint tasks – maintaining two task lists. You do have the ability to download tasks off of SharePoint and transfer them into a task folder in Outlook. Unfortunately this Task folder is not your main Tasks folder and so far it doesn’t look like task ownership is also transferred. Plus there is the synchronization issue of having to update and maintain tasks in two different places.
Given the pros for managing tasks in Outlook as opposed to SharePoint, my inclination right now is to go with Outlook for task management. I would love to hear some of my SharePoint gurus weigh in on how their organizations use SharePoint for Task management.