Overview

Asana is a task and project management system to facilitate team collaboration and communication. You can create projects and as long as you know a person’s email address you can invite them to join your team. You can create tasks within a project, assign a team mate, or just add them as followers and mention them in comments, if they need to know what’s going on, but are not directly involved in the project.
The ability to create projects and invite team members to particular projects enables teams to share, plan, organise, and track the progress of tasks in each of the projects they are working on. A Manager can follow all of their team’s tasks and stay abreast of progress without the need for a long email trail.

As with any shared program, you need to ensure that you clearly describe the task, so that others know what the output should be. Asana provides a commentary box, so that you can add more information, ask questions or keep stakeholders up to date with a project. You can add sections into a project so that you can then organise tasks and their subtasks. You can then assign tasks to yourself or to other members of the team. Your inbox where all notifications relating to tasks and projects changes are received. If you later decide that a task is actually bigger than you first thought, you can change it into a project and then assign tasks to it. You can now create a project in a board style, rather than a list. You can then drop and drag items, but I couldn’t find a way of viewing older projects in the Kanban type view, but that might just be me!

You can upload attachments to tasks, combine related tasks, filter and organise to provide management information and establish a work flow. You can also delegate, prioritise and follow tasks and team members enabling you to understand project progress quickly and easily. Using tags can help make tasks more searchable, and the advanced search function is very helpful if you have incomplete data to search on.

You can multi-select tasks, then bulk assign, change due date, mark as completed, delete etc, by holding down the shift/ctrl key to select the relevant tasks. This for me, is a great feature, as I do sometimes take too much on, and need to be able to re-plan my week!

Tasks can be viewed in the editorial calendar, so that you can get a clear overview of all the tasks, what has been completed, what is overdue and what is still to be done. You can create a task template for each blog post, with the list of subtasks required to complete the post. You can then add the due date and clearly see what you need to do to enable you to complete the blog on time. You can then use the calendar view to review your planned activities and progress against them over an allocated period of time. So, if you’re a blogger, or just someone who has a blog page on their website, this could help you organise your workflows.

If you want to express thanks to someone for their help, click on the heart emoji to show your appreciation!

 

The dashboard allows you to produce some simple management information, where you can add up to 3 projects on the free version, in order for you to see data associated to the tasks within that project. You can drill down into each project and the data is divided into 3 main areas. A summary of the project and its due date, the ability to update status (with the option for a weekly reminder to update) and a summary of the number of completed tasks against the total number of tasks. This can be quite a useful discussion document between the team members, or to update management on project progress. Even if the team is just you, it can give you some clear insight as to how well you are doing against your planned dates, and whether you may have been a bit optimistic in the amount you thought you could get done!

I found it difficult to begin with, so starting was a lot of trial and error and does require some perseverance. There is good “Get Started” Guide, which is clearly set out into those that are getting started with Asana, those who have experience, but are training their team to get the best use out of the tool and then an advanced section for those looking to expand their use of the tool. This useful guide can support you through the process, but I can be quite impatient, so wanted something I could use straight away!

With the premium version, you can create dependencies and link tasks together, so if you are waiting for someone to complete one of the subtasks before you can complete your element of the project, you can highlight it is waiting for a dependent task.
There are a number of templates provided by Asana for team members to be able to quickly develop a project. Most of these are part of the premium feature, but they do provide simple templates for Asana onboarding and a meeting agenda as part of the basic package.

Asana integrates with WordPress, MailChimp, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Slack amongst others.

Strengths

  • Virtual workspace, so teams can work remotely together
  • Ability to set priorities and due dates, with updates on real time basis
  • The administrator can set project permissions, so if you have confidential or sensitive information attached to a project, you can ensure information is only visible to people who need to know.
  • You can see your teammates’ tasks and priorities, so you can understand team workload
  • You can add comments, assignees and attachments to tasks, allowing you to have all information in one place
  • You can follow tasks and add followers, so subscribers can view project progress on an ongoing basis
  • You can add relevant projects to favourites to store them in the side-pane for easy access.
  • See a complete history of tasks and project related activities through the activity feed, so you can understand the workflow and use this to inform other projects.
  • Use tags to categorise different types of tasks, add additional context and create subtasks as individual steps towards task completion.

Weaknesses

  • Not possible to assign one task to multiple people
  • Hard to move subtasks out a level, especially when you want to move a task to a level that isn’t the main project
  • Management information is very basic
  • Difficult to track task duration and dependencies, especially if you are on the free version
  • Not an intuitive tool to learn

 

Costs

Asana Basic is free, and you can have up to 15 team members working within the same environment. Once you go over this amount of people, or you want access to premium features, the costs go up incrementally, depending on number of members and for a small business owner, could become expensive.

 

Conclusion

Asana is not a project management system as you might be familiar with. It does allow you to keep track of the daily to-dos list, while also providing a better method than email to follow the status of jobs. It has lots of useful features and once you get familiar with the tool and its characteristics, it can be extremely powerful, especially if you have the premium version.

 

If you want to do more research

https://www.getapp.com/collaboration-software/a/asana/
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2408011,00.asp