Summary: No matter how large your organization is, wether online or offline your business is done, there is a very good chance that you collaborate as a team on various projects somewhere along the way. Asana is an online application I found earlier this year and it is awesome. It nearly adresses every project “management” aspect and problematics that exists. Personally, I love it – here is my review.I initially found out about Asana while looking for collaborative web based solutions to support our editorial activities at Overclocking-TV. Already a convinced user of enterprise 2.0 tools to run things, I used to recommend to everyone Yammer as a go-to tool when it comes to managing daily operations of a team online.
But Yammer wasn’t enough, or should I say, it wasn’t yet what we needed as a team to collaborate from around the world on joint projects. So I went on a hunt for a new tool and found it. Asana. Since, Asana has become the tool to rule most of my day. In it I can organize, schedule and track my daily workflows throughout my various jobs. In other words: ideal!
What is Asana?
Asana is an online software solution that aims at improving several aspects of teamwork:
- Manage and organize Teams / Projects and tasks
- Schedule tasks
- Follow, comment and discuss tasks
- Share content in relation with tasks
What is great about asana is that everything is done online. You do not need to store anything on your computer nor install a specific software application. On their website, the company aims at making collaboration possible without email: something we are many to dream of, right?
Ok, now you have an idea of what it is like – let’s take a closer look at its features.
How-to teamwork / collaborate with Asana
I must say, the whole thing is cleverly thought. The software also takes advantage of every single pixel of our widescreen displays which is something I really appreciate.
In Asana, everything is structured in a way that you intuitively know how you should organize a project within the application. The software offers several layers of project management:
Workspaces being the top layer and Tasks the last one. Each of them connects through a tree-like structure. Now, let’s have a look at what each of these is made for. To help you visualise, I will be using examples based on the daily use I make of it.
Workspaces on Asana
A workspace is that big box that allows you to separate all of your jobs. When you start using the application, you are given a personal workspace as well as a workspace that is tied to your email account. For instance, in my case I have four workspaces:
- Overclocking-tv: for my @overclocking-tv.com email
- HWBOT: for my @hwbot.org email
- Sidebuddy: for my @sidebuddy.se email
- Personal: for my personal stuff
If I wanted to start a project with my friends in Taipei about tourism activities we organize, I could add a new personal workspace called “Explore Taiwan”, and invite them to join me on that one.
Teams on Asana
A workspace contains as many teams as you want. You decide who is part of a team (Example: Marketing, Accounting, R&D etc.) and, you can join Teams that are accessible to you. Using the free version of Asana you can’t set permissions / privacy settings for Teams, but for most small/medium size projects it isn’t a problem at all.
Right now, I work for small organizations. With less than 5 people on board of each, we do not need many Teams. Actually, one is enough. So we have a big “OCTV Core” team where we all gather – and an “OCTV with da bot” where we collaborate with our friends at HWBOT.
At HWBOT, things are a bit different. Since there are more people involved as well as quite a bit more work, we ended up using Teams as a way to help us organize pools of projects (which is I guess the way it is supposed to be done).
Projects on Asana
Teams work on several projects at a time. Every team-member enrolls for the project he needs to work and collaborate on with other team players. (Example: Update the website design, Annual fan-members gathering, Overkill product launch)
You can create as many projects as you need. Once you get to create a few of them, spread through several teams, it can be sometimes hard to remember how you structured things yourself. My advise is to take about 30minutes every month ang go through each project to tidy things up – as you would do with a stack of notes on your desk.
Asana comes with a handy search functionality which is quite efficient and helpful to pin-point elements. Also you can easily merge projects across teams – so no worries, you always get it the way you want it.
Tasks on Asana
Finally, tasks. Here is where the work gets done. Tasks can be assigned to a person and cary deadlines. This is also the place where you can discuss tasks, attach files, tag people in a conversion or even create subtasks in the form of a bullet point list.
Scheduled tasks can be visualized on a calendar and set to be recurring to your wish. Also for those using calendar apps such as the google one, you can easily sync your Asana tasks to it and have these deadlines appearing into your daily schedule. I just love it.
Asana, an ideal enterprise 2.0 task management system
Personally I’m convinced that software such as this one are the future of collaboration. Sure enough everyone has it’s own way to manage and organize his own work, but the way all the project elements, discussions and deadlines fall into place with such a software simply mesmerizes me.
Enterprises of this decade face a constant challenges to adapt and survive the the swift revolution of trends. But collaboration and teamwork isn’t new. Having myself worked in a large organization, I understand the challenges that the integration of such workflow techniques represent. They are both cultural and organizational. It will be interesting to follow how such tools succeed to make their way, or not, in large corporations.
On a conclusive note, I would say that Asana and Asana like task/teamwork management applications will play a major role in our corporate experience. These tools can provide managers with a non-instrusive and time-efficient way to organize and oversee the work done. It enables workers to build upon projects behind organizational structures. If you haven’t tried it yet, please do.
Have you had any experience with such tools, please share your experience below in the comment. If you have questions – go ahead 🙂
header image: Glen Forde