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Project management: a first Asana review

asana review

I published in January an overview article about project management and collaboration platforms, and I must admit that I missed some of the most popular platforms, Asana for instance. My bad. So, for my redemption, I’ll start the start the series of the detailed reviews that I promised to you by then with it.

Asana allows users to create new projects, and subsequent tasks underneath each project umbrella, to track the productivity and progress of your work from your mobile device, tablet, or browser. The best part? You can add specific colleagues to each project and the corresponding task to enhance the output and sharing of data related to that particular project.

Asana dashboard

The tool is remarkably flexible, offering a platform for you and your team to instantly share files, workflow, and other information relevant to the task at hand. The initial setup and learning of how to optimize your usage of the app may prove to be a bit meticulous, but thankfully, the company has a myriad of online tutorials, detailing how to master the app to best address your unique needs. It’s important to highlight that this software is not as robust as a project management tool, as it doesn’t incorporate things like billing or Gantt charts, but it’s highly customizable, allowing the user to manipulate their team’s collaborative strategy in ways other productivity apps simply cannot.

Pricing & Subscription

Asana does supply users with an option to use their services for free. To be eligible for the free feature, you must either be looking to leverage the app for personal use, or you belong to a team that has a maximum of 15 individuals. Per conventional standards, Asana’s free product dons some limitations. With the free version, you will not be able to customize certain fields, access advanced search and reporting features, or create private teams and projects. You’ll also miss out on admin controls and priority support.

With that being said, the free edition grants users the ability to generate an unlimited number of projects, tasks, and conversations. While you’ll only have access to Asana’s basic dashboard, that still gives you the power to upload files, assign responsible parties to individual tasks, create due dates, make comments where needed, and set up integrations with outside tools like Github, Slack, Dropbox, and Google Drive.

For paid users at the premium level, the price is directly correlated with the number of members on your team. On a monthly basis, the company charges $9.99 per member. The cost-to-value ratio with Asana is extremely high, opening the doorway for the seamless management of complex workflows. Reporting data is comprehensive and clean, and the ability to delegate individual duties on each task gives users the communication necessary to execute business endeavors more efficiently.

There is also an enterprise edition that will discount cost-per-user for sizable groups. At this level, you’ll receive a dedicated Customer Success Manager, with a guaranteed turnaround time of 2 business hours. The enterprise package also offers branding features, advanced controls like SAML, and enhanced security components for cross-regional backups and data deletion.

Impressive Operation

Many users and product reviews boast about creating a digital workspace that is tailored to their specific needs. They can prioritize individual tasks on a daily basis and have instant access to project-related materials with a click of a button. Built into their platform is a feature called ‘Focus Mode,’ which helps eliminate insufficiencies in productivity that arise from becoming distracted and attempting to multitask. By switching into Focus Mode, the user will only see one task at a time, eliminating the temptation of clicking in and out of different tasks in the center pane.

Another benefit to this system is its notification capabilities. Keeping a large team organized and unified is an age-old battle that has haunted many workers. With Asana, however, users will receive email notifications in real time whenever a project has been updated or a progress report has been posted. Members can make comments, share files, and bounce ideas off one another as they maneuver and advance through the job at hand. This open dialog element is the number one catalyst in sparking creativity and empowering a team to communicate their ideas with one another. These timely updates also eliminate the hassle of duplicated work or announcements going unseen.

For project managers, you will be responsible for assigning tasks and adjusting who has permission to view each project. Asana offers an integration with Harvest, so you can track an individual’s time progress on any given task, without having to leave the platform to do so. Remote workers or teams will find the interface to be both intuitive and advantageous for participating in important discussions without having to attend an on-site meeting.

Tasks, and the corresponding subtasks, will compile all relevant data and conversations surrounding that assignment upon completion into one, easily accessible attachment that holds the entire lifeline of that project. Custom search fields allow the user to find things like tasks that are overdue, or how much work has been delegated to a particular individual to help spread work evenly across assignees.

The Layout

Asana’s design aesthetic is colorful enough to inspire without the need for an overly complicated interface. Sure there are unicorns that crop intermittently to celebrate the successful completion of a particular project, but overall the layout is geared towards maximizing processes. When entering the platform from a web-based device, you’ll be directed to your main dashboard, which is divided into three sections. On the left is a navigation bar that provides a list of the various projects, workspaces, and teams you’re working on. This area is customizable, allowing you to color-code projects or create projects that are only viewable by you.

The center space will adjust to reflect a particular project or team that you select from the left-hand pane. You can easily drag and drop tasks to prioritize workflow where required and even create a field to indicate if it’s a low, medium, or high priority.  The right section of the screen dons a detailed breakdown of what you’re viewing in the center window. The platform is highly adaptable, automatically conforming to smaller windows when necessary. There’s also a navigation section at the top of the screen with links to your assigned tasks, your dashboard, and your inbox, which will sport a yellow circle next to it whenever you have an unread notification.

Final Thoughts

There is bound to be some trial-and-error when adopting Asana’s platform to meet your team’s demands. However, once properly established, there’s no doubt that this tool will elevate productivity and cultivate an environment that yields collaboration. It’s fluid functionality and interactive setup was designed to scrap the clutter and disorganization that often surrounds workflow management. Customization is key, and I suggest exercising those creative juices to fully optimize this software’s capabilities. To get started, I recommend playing around with the free version to see if it is a match for you or your team.

About the author

    Dean Duke

    Dean is a father of 2, working full time as an IT consultant. He is an experienced tablet user spending many years honing his skills and learning to be more productive while using his iPad. After meeting the founder of TabletProductive.com, Chris J. Lee in 2015, he has been a main contributor to the blog ever since.

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