• Jeff Barkun

Product Review: Asana

If you are reading this article because you are looking for some to help with company #productivity or #collaboration you have come to the right place. My other blog posts about these topics are great, but you probably want to know how we actually achieve this.

When I build an environment for a client that aims to achieve improvements in their internal operations on the themes mentioned above, we need to provide a workspace that makes information ubiquitously available to everyone who needs it, and also provide a system that supports certainty as to our ability to not have things fall through the cracks. Every business be it in the real estate industry or not, have different needs and will be supported by a series of tools that allow work to be done. One tool I regularly use is Asana. Let's take a look at this one and find out when it should be used, what it does well and what it lacks as well as how to close that gap and why you should consider making it part of your company's tech stack.

Before I begin, I need to mention that I am an Asana Certified Pro. This is a certification that I have completed a program built by Asana as part of its

#AsanaTogether program designed to create experts on how to use its platform.

So why Asana. This platform is a highly flexible task and project management tool. At the most basic level, it is where I advise people to begin tracking what they need to do, or what their team needs to do. Unlike a CRM whose task management feature is typically tied to a prospect or customer, Asana would be the place to track and manage just about anything whether collaborative or simply your own tasks or reminders. Thus, you can quite easily use it in addition to a CRM should you already be using one of those or considering it.

What I like:

1. Clear hierarchical structure. If you like to have things organized in a logical hierarchy like I do, Asana makes a lot of sense. They begin with the workspace you are in. Depending on your subscription level, you can have one or more teams within which you will have a collection of projects. Inside those projects, you will have tasks, and sub-tasks and the related content in them that you add to form your work. One item in particular that I really like, and that many other project management platforms do not allow for, is that tasks are not required to be linked to a project. You can simply create a personal task and assign it to yourself or another person without the obligation to classify it. Further, tasks can be tied to multiple projects which allows you to segregate very large projects into a few smaller ones, and then link them together when needed and at your discretion. Thus, is creates a unique level of dynamism and flexibility that does not bind you to a fixed structure and helps modify things as realities change.

2. Speed: Simply put, speed kills and Asana is extremely fast. You can create tasks as fast as you would type bullet point lines in a word doc and then worry about classifying them later. Many project management tools require you to fill out a bunch of fields to create each and every task which is really annoying. Beyond this, everything just loads really quick so no waiting for the circle to stop spinning.

3. Extensible: Asana has a huge number of integrations, so if there is something it does not do, you can simply connect it to another platform that will.

4. Online learning tools and expert network: If you are not the most digitally savvy person, you will have a ton of content to help you figure out how to use it. If you need more help, you can get assistance from the company or use one of their experts, like me.

Robust long term plan: This was only released a couple of days ago, but Asana seems to have a very impressive long term plan to streamline work management. Take a look at this video to find out more: (25 minutes). For a more abbreviated version, take a look at their blog post

5. Free external collaborator access on paid accounts. This will have some limits, but as we know, we don't just work with our own internal staff on projects and processes. We will also have a collection of consultants and other external parties that work each and every day on things. Classifying emails is tedious and while we want to be able to stay up to date, we don't necessarily need to see every update pushed to our inbox. Asana allows you to work with external collaborators the same way as internal employees and control what they have access to so we can work the same way regardless of how the team is setup.

What I don't like:

1. No project level activity feed: If you have a lot of activity from a project that you are collaborating on with several team members, there is no simple way to go through and easily see all of the activity around a particular project or by the same token, everything about all the projects within a team. This would include updates like tasks created, tasks completed, milestones, comments, status updates and comments within tasks as well as in the discussions and progress sections and really anything else done in the project. This is something that project managers and project sponsors definitely do. They may not participate in every project activity but want to occasionally check in and review what has been going on the last little while. Unfortunately it cannot be done easily within the platform so you would need to setup integrations such as Slack or Teams. Assuming you use one of them, you would create a channel for the project and configure it to show all updates in the feed. This is easy enough as long as you use one of those, but in my opinion it should exist within Asana.

2. Very little in terms of graphical reporting. Asana does not have much when it comes to analyzing what you and your team have been up to. There have been some recent improvements to the progress tab and the portfolios section which is admirable, but this is ultimately very basic and just tells you the percentage of tasks completed relative to how many are open inside a project. I am looking for them to have something akin to the customizable dashboards you see if most high quality CRM's and other platforms which allow you to build visual dashboards on just about anything. Like project updates, this can be accomplished with integrations but I would like to see a bit more from them right within the platform.

Summary: Asana is a clean, flexible, simple to use and powerful work management tool. Like all platforms, there will be a couple of things missing, but we can never have everything we want. If you would like to find out how to successfully implement this to drive clarity, efficiency and collaboration in your team, give me a shout, or simply sign up using my discount code:

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