Warming Up To Asana

by Lynnea Bylund on June 8, 2012

Asana Cloud based to-do manager collaboration

Source: Catalyst House Blog

Lately, we’ve been putting Asana through its paces. Asana is essentially a very customizable cloud-based to-do list with a few tools that, when used intelligently, can bring order to a variety of projects.

But what exactly is Asana? It can be best described as a collaborative to-do manager for both individuals and groups. It’s heavily influenced by the “GTD” (Getting Things Done) methodology of David Allen.

Asana Features

Synchronizes with iCal, Google Calendars and Microsoft Outlook

Tasks can be assigned to individual team members

New work spaces can be created and managed for each group

Milestones allow the user to organize tasks into manageable goals

Project templates can be created and used on similar projects

Business collaboration and project management applications often fall short because people don’t manage their to-do lists in them. Individuals use calendars, text editors, sticky notes, legal pads – whatever helps them be productive. They do this because those centralized project hub apps and don’t give individuals appropriate tools to manage their own tasks. Enterprise project management tools are slow, and don’t provide a sufficient view of an individual’s tasks – especially the ones that aren’t assigned as part of a group project.

To solve this, Asana is focused on making its product work well for individuals. Its goal is to make Asana faster for managing tasks than a text editor. To this end, it makes it easy to drag and drop tasks, provides lots of keyboard shortcuts and simple to delegate a task to someone else.

For groups, Asana makes it easy to manage tasks between team members, provides an activity stream view for each task and lets users participate in discussions by e-mail.

When assigned a task, the user will receive a simple email. You can also assign a task to anyone with an email address even if they don’t have Asana yet, they will receive an email inviting them to login and take control of the task.

Unlike e-mail or a social network, Asana is useful on its own as a task manager. Having other users to collaborate with will create a network effect, but it can stand alone. This could be a driver of adoption because users will be able to use it productively immediately.

Great for Service Companies who want a free and easy ticketing system. Or Collaborative Project teams looking to centralize their Project Management database.

Asana has been designed with speed and simplicity in mind with Dustin mentioning that if it was too difficult or slow, people simply wouldn’t use it.

Asana gives your team a single place to see everyone’s to-dos, related documents, notes and conversations. Instead of emailing files and endless debate threads in your inbox, your team can visit Asana to discuss tasks and review documents together. Everyone else can see updates in real-time, assign each other tasks, and mark their to-dos complete when they’re finished.

Started by ex-Google and Facebook founders, Asana has some serious brainpower behind its development, and some serious backing. Names like Dustin Moskovitz (Co-Founder of Facebook) and Justin Rosenstein to name a few.

When our assessment cycle is completed we’ll share our final thoughts, but so far so good.

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