Asana: A Review

For the past couple of weeks, the team and I have been trying out a cloud-based project management tool called Asana.

We’ve been using a Google Spreadsheet and it works fine, but we were looking for a bit more functionality: maybe some reminders, maybe a great visual calendar, maybe somewhere to log tasks and other-to dos in a more visual way.

After two weeks of use, we decided to discontinue and revert back to the “Google” way. While the overall reaction from everyone was that Asana is a fantastic, robust tool, we collectively concurred that it wasn’t the right tool for a boutique shop with a super-speedy environment like ours.

That said - here are our top 5 takeaways.

5. Asana’s Interface is really beautiful.

A simple, intuitive UI will always strike a chord with a designer. But Asana goes beyond just that. Everything from the detailed line icons to the interactive calendar and a calm, soothing brand palette make Asana a platform I want to use. Clean typography and subtle interactions reflect the desire to stay focused and organized.

 

4. A bird’s-eye-view calendar is a must have.

Before we used Asana, we didn’t realize how nice it was to be able to look at a monthly view of a calendar with due dates for each task. Asana lets the user assign tasks and due dates that show up on a general Team Calendar, one thing our Google Doc is definitely lacking. The only drawback; when assigning a task and due date, you must mention the project name or it won’t show which project it’s referring to. This was an extra step that I expected a tool like this to have already figured out, but didn’t. Perhaps for a bigger firm with larger, longer-term projects, this may work, but because of the high-speed environment and multitude of work coming on and off of our radars, it just wasn’t happening. However, the monthly view is something I’ll be looking to incorporate into our Google structure.

 

3. How projects are organized matters.

We couldn’t decide how to best structure the Projects feature of Asana. While all of the reviews and tutorials tell you that Asana should be project based with tasks and sub-tasks, this caused a bit of confusion when we needed an umbrella view of all of the projects going on. Sure, we could click on each project to view the tasks, but there is no single way to scroll down, see what you need to see, and go. Also, minor flaw, but Asana doesn’t automatically alphabetize project names. Perhaps this is to give the option of chronological vs. alphabetical, for us it was just another added step.

 

2. ‘Project Status’ isn’t the default view.

To a fast-moving firm like ours, status is everything. We consistently need to know if the project is on hold, on deck, active, with account lead, with client or approved and completed. Asana does have this functionality, but again, the user must click into the project and then click into the status tab (2 clicks!?) to find out where the project stands. #aintnobodygottimeforthat

 

1.  Too robust for us.

The main takeaway from using Asana for a couple of weeks is that while it’s a great, robust tool, that it might just be too robust for us. Too many bells and whistles for clients and a firm that moves at the speed of light. The main mission of Asana is to remove some of the daily chaos when it comes to project management, but for us, it just added extra steps and checks. For the time being, we’ll stick with our trusty Google doc.