Asana – the future of team project work?

May 7, 2012

I recently discovered Asana. On their web site they say “We’re building the modern way to work together, a fast and versatile web application that connects everyone with what’s going on, their shared priorities, and who owns each part of the effort.

My one sentence summation is Asana is a revved up web based task list for teams. It’s simpler, but it also seems cleaner, than the 37signals Basecamp product. And you know I am a big fan of Basecamp.

Asana is fast and easy to use and anyone that can browse the web should be able to use Asana. Asana has made it very easy to create a work space then create projects under that work space. Under projects you create tasks. You can assign tasks to individuals (even if they haven’t signed up for Asana yet), assign due dates, attach files, assign followers of that task, and add notes. Assigned team members or followers can add comments to a task. And you can easily see the history of the task. You can create new tasks via email and the keyboard short cuts are a great time saver.

Asana also has apps for iOS and Android. I am using the iOS app on my iPhone and iPad and the apps give you all the functionality of the web based version.

I am using the standard (free) version of Asana which allows up to 30 members. For $100 a month you can upgrade to a premium workspace for up to 30 members that has project level features and priority support. For $300 a month you can have up to 50 member, $550 allows up to 75 members, and $800 a month allows up to 100 members.

Asana is missing some of the features of more mature products – you can’t assign a milestone date to a project (you may be able to do this with a paid plan?), you can’t see all late tasks for a project (you can see late tasks by person), no association of tasks to each other (IE predecessors), no threading of notes, no way to see all attached files across a workspace, etc.

And of course the big weakness of Asana, and honestly all project task lists, is you have to 1) put in all the tasks and then 2) maintain it. The tasks have to be actionable, but you don’t want to overwhelm the team members with minutia. Also, the team members have to agree to participate. A task list that never gets up dated isn’t helping the team get the project done. That was one of my biggest issues with Basecamp – getting all team members to consistently mark off the tasks they had done. Even with reminder emails, I ended up having to go over the tasks in our team meetings. With Basecamp, and I’m sure with Asana, it was quick and easy to walk through the open tasks, but still it wasted time in a meeting instead of freeing up that time to do “real” work.

Asana is cool, and they are getting a ton of buzz right now, but they are trying to break into a pretty crowded space. There are many other completing tools out there (Basecamp, Producteev, Zoho, Jira, even MS Project, etc). But if you are working on a team project with less than 30 members and want to improve your efficiency and communication I say try out the free version. There is very little to loose and maybe a lot to gain.

Links:
https://yourcto.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/ready-fire-aim-aim-aim/
http://asana.com/about
http://basecamp.com/
www.producteev.com

And, for my own personal task list, I still love Omnifocus.


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