With the variety of very powerful and out of the box web parts to choose from, I hear this dilemma come up quite a bit. If you have tasks and action items to track on your team site, you have a choice to make. You can either use Issue Tracking web part or Tasks List. Let me explain the difference between the two and help you make that decision.
Issue Tracking and Tasks from SharePoint perspective
- Both web parts allow you to track tasks/issues/action items
- Both have Out of The Box metadata pre-configured for you
- Both allow you to assign issues and tasks to individuals and have an automated email sent when task or issue is assigned
- Both lists can be exported to Excel
- Unlike Issue Tracking, Tasks list allows you to create subtasks, just like in a project plan
- One of the major differences between Tasks List and Issue Tracking List is that beautiful Timeline that every Tasks web part has by default. You may add selected tasks to the timeline, providing a great way to display milestones or highlight certain tasks to the users
- Tasks web part allows for tasks to be Sync’d to Outlook. Issues web part cannot be synchronized to Outlook
- Tasks list can also be manipulated with MS Project. Unlike Issue Tracking list, which is “just” a SharePoint list, Tasks web part has tight integration with MS Project software
- Tasks Web Part has lots of great “pre-built” views, like Gantt Chart or late tasks
- Tasks Web Part highlights late tasks in Red (when they are past due date, if due date has been populated). Issue Tracking list does not have this functionality
Issues and Tasks Web parts from Project Management perspective
Having spent 15 years in IT Project Management, here is how I differentiate between Issue Tracking and Tasks web parts. I use Tasks web part for action items assigned to someone with set start and end dates. For example, “Sign-off on purchase order” is a task I would assign to you and give you certain deadline (due date) to meet. On another hand, “Make a decision on CRM” is probably better suited for Issue Tracking list, since this captures an issue/action item, but does not have a clear assignment or due date.
Hopefully this clears this dilemma for you somewhat. I know, sometimes this could still be a bit of gray area and at the end of the day you might get away with just one list/web part. There are definitely many similarities between the two lists and it comes down to personal preference and look and feel.